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Friday, May 24, 2024


May 6, 2001 – There's a good chance that at least some sections of the one-day "Excellence Together Training Program" course in customer service being offered by local hotels starting Thursday will be filled to capacity. But there's also still time to sign up.
Each of the four presentations — on Thursday, Friday, May 14 and May 15 — can accommodate around 100 participants. As of this past Friday, according Jackie Barnes of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, two of the four days had more than 60 registrants and the other two had more than 40 — and that was before she had added in end-of-day figures.
The course, developed by the Caribbean Hospitality Training Institute, is being presented at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort by the Hospitality Focus Group, a subcommittee of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association's Education and Training Committee. An American Express trainer from Puerto Rico will conduct the sessions.
Timed to coincide with the observance of May as National Tourism Month — and this week as Tourism Week in the territory — the program is being jointly sponsored by the hotel association, Amex, the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and the government Tourism Department.
The Hospitality Focus Group would like to see "all employers, public and private, as well as those who are self-employed" take advantage of the opportunity to spend a day on the job but away from the workplace, learning to "enhance customer service and satisfaction." The course is primarily for those working in tourism-related areas but is open to anyone with a customer-contact service job.
"Our vision is to include people from across the community — taxi operators, retail sales persons, customs and immigration officers, police, activities and attractions [personnel], restaurant employees, along with hotel employees," Carter Donovan, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, said. She co-chairs the Hospitality Focus Group with Frenchman's Reef general manager Jayne Hillner.
The group itself crosses that many segments of the community, and more — with public-sector representation from the V.I. Taxi Association, the Office of the Governor and the Tourism, Police, Education and Public Works Departments, and private-sector involvement of hotels, restaurants, activities businesses and the media. "We are a diverse group," Donovan said. "However, we all share one common goal: We are all committed to improving the tourism product and delivering enhanced customer service to the guest."
Each session will meet from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a break for a complimentary box lunch. At the end of each day, those taking part will receive certificates of participation.
Michele Lane, Frenchman's Reef human resources director, said the overall cost of putting on the program is about $100 per participant. But it will cost those participants and their employers nothing. The focus group asks only that employers pay their participating employees their regular wages for the day.
"The Reef, the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort and the Ritz-Carlton are dividing up the cost," Lane said. And if the demand turns out to be greater than the space available, that won't be a problem for long. The Hospitality Focus Group plans to continue to offer "these types of training classes once a quarter," a release from the group states.
Also, Lane noted, the Amex trainer will be going from St. Thomas directly to St. Croix, "which has piggy-backed on to what we're doing," to conduct training on that island.
Lane said that as of Friday no registrations had been received from St. John, and so she was planning to make a trip to the island "and see if maybe they didn't get our flyers."
Anyone wishing to register for the course or learn more about it should call Barnes at 693-3824.

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