Vic­to­ria County busi­nesses take pre-sea­son cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing

The Victoria Standard - - Business - CAR­OLYN BAR­BER

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.

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