[blockquote style=”2″]We Are One BVI – because everyone in the BVI touches tourism. Tourism has been a success because all of you play a role whether you know it or not.[/blockquote]
Embracing the tourism product from captain all the way down to the janitor and the person on the street, be it Virgin Islanders, or those who call it home, was given center stage as the old cliché “Tourism is everybody’s business” could be heard echoing in every speech at the One BVI Tourism Awareness Month launch at the Tortola Pier Park on Tuesday 26th April 2016.
Director of Tourism Sharon Flax-Mars said embracing the product can be achieved through consistent -great customer service, increased support to keep the various islands and cays clean, and continued tourism awareness as well as knowing and experiencing the product itself. “I’ve always remembered Dr. Smith’s words “tourism is everyone’s business” – this is why we are here today,” she said. “This is why we are launching One BVI – our tourism awareness programme to make all residents of the BVI understand and appreciate that tourism is not just the role of the Tourist Board or the government, We Are One BVI – because everyone in the BVI touches tourism. Tourism has been a success because all of you play a role whether you know it or not…we will endeavor to show you. Tourism is our future and we all have our part to play to sustain it.”
The Tourism Director mentioned that they have been working closely with the world-renowned Disney Institute for the past year to create and maintain a distinctive culture of service for the tourism sector that “speaks a common language when it comes to meeting, and more importantly, exceeding the service expectations of our guest.” It consisted of three main components: A Common Purpose, Service Standards and Service Behaviors and the common purpose statement is “We create happiness when we work together to provide lasting British Virgin Islands memories.” In addition, the BVI Tourist Board has developed four Service Standards to ensure a consistent and high-quality customer service experience, which in order of priority are Safety, Friendliness, Authenticity, and Efficiency. She explained that what this basically mean is that employees should always prioritize safety over the other standards and when faced with a situation where an employee may have to choose between friendliness versus authenticity or efficiency, friendliness always wins.
There were also ten clearly defined and measurable Service Behaviors created for employees and employers within the BVI. They include: prioritize safety in everything I do; I smile, make eye contact, display positive body language, and keep conversations positive, I seek out guest contact, using names whenever possible, I anticipate needs and welcome questions, I am knowledgeable about our island culture and proactively share about our “little secrets”, I reduce hassles and inconveniences, I value each guest’s time and resources, I make it right—right away, I thank each and every guest and I acknowledge others’ contributions toward a memorable guest experience.
Flax-Mars reasoned that in developing and implementing the Service Framework the focus was not about creating a Disney experience in the BVI, however, it was about creating a unique guest experience that distinctly differentiates the BVI experience from the rest of the Caribbean and the world. Since August of 2015, 700 employees and employers have gone through their Service Providers and Leaders Workshops and come next month the Disney team will be returning to work on refining the Service Framework as well as training managers and supervisors in the territory to deliver the workshops to their employees.
“They are nipping at our heels but they won’t catch us on my watch. Why? Because we will continue to push because we need to do it best we need to ensure that when our guests visit, their stay with us exceeds their expectations – from beginning to end. Our people and our product must be superlative. We must set the standard that all are measured by,” she vowed, adding that when everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel it is a win-win situation for all.
“All of us must play our part. Why? Because our sustainability and our future and the future of our children depend on it. We work hard on and for tourism – all of us in our own way – but we need to push harder. The tourism dollar touches all whether directly or indirectly,” she continued. “Tourism is our business – it’s everyone’s business. Our campaign is designed to be front facing. You will see tourism on our television stations – online – at our ports, in our schools, in the streets, in the government offices, in the financial services and we all will become more aware of our BVI and our tourism product. As we explore the facets of our One BVI Tourism Awareness campaign in the coming year I ask all of you to embrace tourism – embrace what it has to offer and share our BVI pride and our BVI spirit with everyone…in the BVI and those who visit our shores.”
Meantime Representative of the Road Town Taxi Association Keith Smith further urged all to make a lasting impression on all visitors through service. “The thing about service is it starts from the top and goes straight down to the bottom and unless we collectively get on that same page, we would not achieve where we want to go,” he noted. “Service starts from the beginning from Immigration to Customs as soon as you enter the territory, to the taxi’s straight down to the hotels, straight down to the people that you encounter on the streets; it’s all about how you deal with people. What I want to emphasize is this throughout the Caribbean what we have here is not uncommon, sun, sand and sea, we have that it is very beautiful but we are not the only beautiful destination. What will make us stand out is our service and how high the standard of service that we have here is.”
The Tourism Educational Manual was officially handed over to the Ministry of Education and Culture and certificates were also presented to the Tour Operators who underwent the Canadian Tour Operators –Aquila. They are: Vincent Payne, Henito R. Penn, Camesha Peters-Mofford, Shawna Ramsay, Karl Scatliffe, Jurine Scatliffe-George, Edwin Seminiano, Donald Shettlewood, Keith Smith, Patris Trimmingham, Samuel Williams and Donna Regis.