BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- A Bahamian “lobby store” has created history by becoming the first business of its kind to earn the highly regarded Hospitality Assured (HA) certification, a symbol of service and business excellence in the tourism and hospitality sector internationally and in the Caribbean.
Island Essentials, a local logo, sundries and souvenir shop in the lobby of the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort in Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas, now has the Hospitality Assured quality framework in place, proof of its commitment to continuously raise service quality standards, focus on customers’ needs, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and improve overall business performance.
A number of Caribbean hotels and attractions have received HA certification since the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) launched the programme in eight pilot countries in 2010. However, Island Essentials is the first lobby story to be certified.
“The management and staff of Island Essentials are extremely proud and excited to have qualified for the prestigious 'Hospitality Assured' accreditation. The challenging economic times of the past few years have taught us that only the strongest companies survive during hard times and only the best run businesses thrive. Being strong and making best business practices part of a company culture is what 'Hospitality Assured is all about,” said Rory Dean, the general manager of "Island Essentials" store.
In order to achieve HA certification, the management team and staff of Island Essentials undertook a rigorous review process conducted by an external assessor, that tested their internal systems, structures and procedures in critical areas such as business leadership and planning, operational planning and performance standards, customer research, the customer service promise and training and development.
Dean said the exercise has benefitted both the company and its personnel.
“The process of applying for and qualifying to be 'Hospitality Assured' has definitely made us evaluate and upgrade our business practices, establish systems for every vital function, strive for innovation as well as crystallize our business plan and future goals,” he said. “Our company has been in the tourism industry for decades but we feel that reaching this accreditation is a milestone, a testament to our commitment to continuous improvement and to excellent customer service every minute of every day. Our staff has been invigorated by the project, knowing that by striving toward this accreditation, they are in fact taking part in building up an industry that is vital to the economy of the Bahamas. The increased focus on employee education and participation has meant greater growth in their professional development and led to greater job satisfaction. We are confident that achieving this accreditation will give us the competitive edge we need to grow our company in the short term and make it sustainable for years to come.”
The Island Essential general manager has encouraged other businesses in the service industry to strive to achieve the Hospitality Assured certification because, he said, this will mean a stronger, more profitable business.
“We are happy to assure our customers and the Management of BahaMar and the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort that once they step into Island Essentials, Hospitality is Assured!” he said.
Hospitality Assured is an internationally recognized certification programme promoting service and business excellence in tourism and hospitality companies. It is owned by the Institute of Hospitality in the United Kingdom, and managed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in the region.