Operators of Small Hotels Focus On Achieving Excellence

BASSETERRE : Owners and operators of small hotels in St. Kitts & Nevis recently attended and completed a workshop on “Achieving Service and Business Excellence.”

The workshop, which was funded by the Organization of American States, was held last week at the Ocean Terrace Inn, with more than 20 participants from the small hotel sub-sector, which included Owners, Managers, Accountants, Front Desk Workers and Government employees taking part in the two-day event.

The workshop was facilitated by Shirlene Nibbs, who is the Managing Director of Nibbs & Associates based on Antigua.

Nibbs said the goal of the workshop was to focus on the link between delivering excellent service in a consistent manner and how businesses will profit from it, pointing out that the key component is that small hotels deliver on their pledge of excellent service.

“It is very easy for us to have statements that clearly highlight our promise to our customers,” Nibbs said. “But it is a very different thing for them to experience in a consistent manner what it is you have put out there in your collateral pieces as your promise. So the workshop will look at the promise in relation to what training and development you do with your human resources in order to deliver service to the highest international standards.”

OAS Representative Starrett Greene said the OAS has a genuine interest in the small hotels sub-sector. The organization has been working with owners and operators of small tourism properties, dating back to the 1980s.

“The OAS understands that this subsector is critical for the growth, development and sustainability of small businesses; it knows that small tourism properties are essential in terms of providing employment; and the subsector is indispensable for the viability of the hotel industry in our region,” Greene said.

Greene encouraged small hotel operators to work towards creating an edge over their competitors, so that they can have a competitive advantage. He also challenged the small hotels sub-sector to think critically about their situation.

“As the stock of small hotels decline, the question that looms large is how competitive are these properties? Are they positioned to operate at international standards in the context of costs, level of service, operational standards and quality? Do their bottom lines show earnings above industry average in what can be described as an aggressive and competitive environment? Or are they struggling to keep their heads above the water, so to speak, with earnings that remain at the margins?”

“I wish therefore, to use this opportunity to call on all small hotel owners and operators in St. Kitts and Nevis to make the requisite investments, financial, material and human, to further strengthen your strategic planning mechanisms and to improve your research capabilities and competencies,” Greene said. “Other drivers of competitiveness include leadership, innovation, international benchmarking, quality focus and responsiveness to competition… In the current business environment, I wish to contend that every advantage counts towards getting you to the top of your industry.”

Carolyn James, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, revealed that the two-day exercise was a deliberate effort to learn about issues relevant to the growth and development of the small hotel sub-sector.

“As a tourism-dependent country we must constantly seek to benefit from enriching and engaging experiences like this one which helps us to maximize the benefits to be gained from tourism,” James said
Also speaking at the brief opening ceremony was Kaloma Hamilton, Executive Director of the St. Kitts and Nevis Hotel and Tourism Association, who said that such workshops are beneficial to maintaining the competitive edge.

The workshop was funded by the OAS, and coordinated with the assistance of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Tourism within the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Hotels and Tourism Association.

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