In an effort to maintain its global tourism leadership position, the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board has taken a series of steps to institute comprehensive hotel industry standards throughout the British Virgin Islands, sixty plus islands and cays in the Caribbean that include Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost van Dyke and Anegada.According to Kedrick Malone, Director of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, who is overseeing the implementation of the new standards, “When fully implemented, the new standards will be one of the most revolutionary measures implemented by the British Virgin Islands for its tourism sector. These new standards will ensure that the quality of service delivered in the British Virgin Islands is equal to the BVI’s compelling natural beauty and product, offering visitors an unparalleled vacation experience in the Caribbean. By implementing these standards, we will ensure consistently high quality service throughout the accommodation, restaurant and yachting sectors by establishing a minimum service standard, which everyone is required to meet and exceed.”
The new program is funded by the British Virgin Islands Government, which is committed to ensuring that every business has the training and resources needed to meet the standards.
Over the last several months, the BVI Tourist Board’s staff, including Ms. Janis Braithwaite, Deputy Director at the Board, has conducted a series of focus group meetings with hotel owners and restaurant operators with a view to establishing territory-wide minimum destination service standards for the industry.
This process also has included the yachting sector, which is a major component of the BVI’s tourism industry.
The BVI Tourist Board facilitated these new efforts with its U.S.-based partner, the service solutions company Freeman Group, which was contracted by government in April 2004 to develop and implement Tourism Industry Service Standards (T.I.S.S.) in the British Virgin Islands. The main facilitator is Mr. Bill Freeman, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Freeman Group.
“Standards are a measurement of performance and standards must be specific, measurable, achievable and realistic, controllable, understandable and agreed at all levels,” Mr. Freeman told the group of local businesspersons. In underscoring the importance of establishing and maintaining standards, he said owners should care about and want to ensure their guests leave with a positive intent to return and a positive intent to recommend.
During the focus group meetings, hotel and restaurant operators have been presented with generic Standards of Performance manuals, which they have evaluated step by step, agreeing on the various operating procedures.
The next phase of the programme will involve establishing a quality inspection system to measure performance, the hosting of train the trainers seminars, the implementation of operational skills training, the establishment of the Promises (TM) program and of a hotel categorization system.
The Promises program will target the wider tourism/service industry and select government departments and will focus on customer service skills as well as an orientation on BVI culture and history.
Mr. Malone added, “This will include employees in customs, immigration, taxi drivers, tour operators, ferry operators, retail shops, airport/seaport security and departure tax collectors. Basic customer service training will ensure all tourism personnel who interact with our visitors deliver a level of service complementary to the world class experience of vacationing in the British Virgin Islands.”
At the launch of the program earlier this year, Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism, Dr. the Honorable D. Orlando Smith said, “Many of our competitors regionally and extra-regionally have already established standards program to improve their tourism product and ultimately their visitor experiences. To make the BVI more competitive, we must be able to deliver the experience we are selling and marketing.”
For further information on BVI visit: www.bvitouristboard.com