Travel leader calls for ur­gent in­vest­ment in re­gion’s hu­man re­sources

Jamaica Gleaner - - HOSPITALITY JAM -

GER­ARD ‘JERRY’ Inz­er­illo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, known for his in­no­va­tions and re­la­tion­ships in the tourism, hos­pi­tal­ity, and en­ter­tain­ment com­mu­ni­ties, called for an ur­gent in­vest­ment in the next gen­er­a­tion of Caribbean travel and tourism lead­ers to el­e­vate ser­vice stan­dards within the re­gion.

“We have the soul to do it. This re­gion has soul, and that is a bank­able com­mod­ity, more than the beau­ti­ful turquoise wa­ters,” Inz­er­illo told a packed au­di­ence at the open­ing of the Caribbean Ho­tel and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion’s Caribbean Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Ex­change Fo­rum in Puerto Rico last Friday.

“Im­port­ing (tal­ent) is not an ex­cuse,” he con­tended, un­der­scor­ing the im­por­tance of train­ing lo­cal work­ers. “It is (our) obli­ga­tion to de­velop our own peo­ple ... and tal­ent,” said the chief ex­ec­u­tive, who started his ca­reer as a bus­boy.

Inz­er­illo, who cel­e­brates 50 years in the in­dus­try next year, as­serted that tourism, now 10 per cent of global GDP, is “the sin­gle, great am­bas­sador of hu­man­ity in the world be­cause it cel­e­brates all the stuff that’s in our soul”.

“It is not grow­ing in­cre­men­tally, it is ex­plod­ing ... we are in the right place at the right time. What is go­ing to hap­pen in travel in the next five years is breath­tak­ing,” he re­marked, high­light­ing trends such as multi-gen­er­a­tional fam­ily travel, women trav­el­ling in groups, and mil­len­nial travel.

GREATER DIFFICULTY

How­ever, he lamented that it has never been more dif­fi­cult to run a tourism en­tity, cit­ing low mar­gins, in­creased com­pe­ti­tion, the de­vel­op­ment of hu­man re­sources, and a di­ver­sity of other chal­lenges.

Inz­er­illo, who was in­stru­men­tal in the suc­cess of some of the world’s most famous hos­pi­tal­ity brands such as At­lantis, One&Only Re­sorts, and Ian Schrager Ho­tels who has held lead­er­ship roles with Four Sea­sons and Hil­ton Ho­tels & Re­sorts, un­der­scored the im­por­tance of guest sat­is­fac­tion. He en­cour­aged at­ten­dees to wow them with gra­cious and an­tic­i­pa­tory hos­pi­tal­ity ser­vice: “So­phis­ti­cated trav­ellers will re­ward you for that.”

Inz­er­illo was pres­i­dent of Kerzner En­ter­tain­ment Group, where he raised the vis­i­bil­ity of the com­pany and the pro­file of its prop­er­ties in The Ba­hamas, Dubai, the In­dian Ocean, Mex­ico, Morocco, Africa, Mau­ri­tius, and The Mal­dives. Inz­er­illo over­saw the pro­duc­tion and launch of sev­eral leg­endary prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing the open­ing of the billion-dollar Phase III of At­lantis in The Ba­hamas in May 2007, and the US$1.5 billion At­lantisDubai on Palm Is­land in 2008, which re­ceived world­wide me­dia cov­er­age and was fea­tured on the cover of Newsweek. He also served as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Sun City, the unique South African re­sort com­plex built by Sol Kerzner.

Jerry Inz­er­illo (sec­ond from left) with Caribbean Ho­tel and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer Matt Cooper (left), First Vice-Pres­i­dent Stu­art Bowe (cen­tre), Chief Op­er­a­tions Of­fi­cer Vanessa Ledesma, and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Frank Comito.

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