You have to love being with people and making them happy to survive in the service industry, says Deborah Joseph.
Debbie, as she is fondly known, is a former guest services manager at the St. James’ Club Hotel. She is also a wedding coordinator and events planner who recently honed her skills to develop her own company - Events Management Antigua.
Her business now, said Debbie, is to refine the experience of visiting the Caribbean and by so doing enhance the tourism product.
She has attended various schools around the world including Cornell University in the United States and the University of Cyprus where she lived and worked for an extended period
“I learned so much about what Europeans expect in service and I was able to apply that knowledge at my service-oriented jobs here in Antigua.”
Debbie has a double advantage in her new business. She possesses a genuine friendly and cordial attitude when dealing with people whether it be a cashier or a president, and she has over 20 years in the service industry; both in theory and in practice.
“It is a service business we are selling. We want visitors to come to Antigua, have an outstanding experience, then send their friends and return again and again,” she said.
Events Management Antigua offers complete events planning for visiting executives, families and church groups as well as couples who wish to get married on the Island.
According to Debbie, EMA will look after every detail of a visit to Antigua by selecting the appropriate conference area, luncheon area and hotel. EMA also organizes ground transportation and “RSVPs” from national, regional and international guests.
“We are very strict about confidentiality agreements with clients. If a high profile client wishes to remain anonymous, we keep it that way,” Debbie said.
In the case of weddings and special launches, the company will conduct extensive interviews with the clients. Once that step is complete EMA does a site inspection of hotels to locate the one, which best reflects the bride’s and groom’s personality and tastes.
They will also organize the guest list, the party favors, the transportation and “every little detail.”
“I believe Antigua needs something like this because we need to improve our service product. Ultimately, it is service we sell and visitors will always remember what the people were like. The people, the places and the events are what increases a visitor’s experience,” she said. Debbie believes that with a company such as EMA a holiday, wedding or product launch can be greatly enhanced by superb customer service and outstanding efficiency.
EMA currently employs a sommelier/food and beverage manager, and an interior decorator. Although it is a small company, Debbie and the two staff members have been successful in coordinating their first event with a group of 15.
“It’s a lot of work, but that is what we do so that you as the client can sit back and relax.”