Victoria County businesses take pre-season customer service training
Victoria County businesses will be the readiest they have ever been to serve tourists. That’s good news with only a few months before the summer tourist season is in full swing.
A dozen tourism operators recently completed a 40-hour course (one day per week for 5 weeks) designed to enhance the hiring, training and communication with front-line staff. Consultant Ian Mcneil facilitated the course sponsored by Victoria County and organized by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. Participants were so impressed with the content, they requested a follow-up course for front-line personnel.
“It’s an essential course, every employee and manager should take it,” said Bras d’or Yacht Club General Manager Sandy Watling.
Mcneil designed course content based on what participants were struggling with in running their businesses, hiring and retaining staff. Using lecturing, role-playing, videos and discussions, the course covered business marketing, improving workplace relationships, protocols for making excellent first impressions, how to achieve accountability from staff and how to deal with difficult conversations and situations.
“The course offers participants the opportunity to break things down into steps and to learn to recognize the unfolding of a process in front of their eyes... with new eyes,” said Mcneil.
In her twenty-seven years of operating Bird Island Tours, Sheila Van Schaick recalls a couple of rough spots with customers.
“I remember two that were kind of difficult. Ian gave us some guidance, stepped us through, and you think to yourself, ‘that would have been helpful if I'd known that beforehand’. Some client conversations can really go off the rails.”
Watling said he too learned things throughout the course he wished he had known in the past.
“Every session gave you a new skill to utilize and provided knowledge you need for the different aspects of the business.”
Other tourist operators have enlisted Mcneil’s help for their pre-season training. He will run “Front Line Tourism Communication” for new Keltic Lodge hires and “Communications in Tourism Management” for the lodge’s unit supervisors and managers. Later in April, he will provide similar training to supervisors and managers at Cabot Links Golf Course in Inverness.