Tour Operators Receive Training from SBDCBelize
The tourism industry has been growing leaps and bounds becoming one of the top foreigner exchange earners for the jewel. But for the industry to continue to thrive, good customer service and marketing are important factors. This morning stakeholders from the Fort Street Tourism Village were trained on how to sharpen their skills to improve their services. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Professionalism and quality within the ever-growing tourism industry are important characteristics of service providers, including vendors and tour operators, working out of the Fort George Tourism Zone.
“The Belize Tourism Board has partnered with Small Business Development Center and BTEC to deliver a training on entrepreneurship to the stakeholders of the Fort George Tourism Zone. Basically it is a business development training for them to understand their customer base, for them to understand how their business is conducted, what their business is and at what level their business is in terms of product delivery.”
As frontline for marketing Belize as an ideal travel destination, these men and women, a majority of whom are independent operators, are required to conduct business proficiently. In order to deliver the best possible sales pitch and the most professional approach to selling the Belizean product, both organizations have teamed up to provide a crash course in marketing.
Nilda Riverol, Manager, Small Business Development Center
“In marketing we are covering the importance of branding, the importance of portraying that image; for the product itself, brand awareness. We’re also discussing on labeling requirements and what are national standards if it is a commodity-based product. When it comes to sales, we are teaching them sales techniques. How do you make an effective sales pitch? How do you know when a customer is not interested in purchasing that product or service? In the areas of customer service which I perceive is the core and a very important element in making that sale happen, we are teaching them professionalism in delivering an approach that they could be aware of what essentially is customer service.”
The expertise, including an array of soft skills, is necessary when dealing with visitors. Without a formal environment to learn how to properly advertise and promote their products and services, these stakeholders are at a disadvantage. The program gives them a leg up.
Albert Alvarez, Independent Tour Operator
“I think this is very important and it’s vital to what we do as tour operators. We have a lot of people that work along with us in different fields. We have tour guides and we also have craftsmen and for the most part people are very green so by getting this training it goes a long way. The program on a whole is something I believe that everybody needs to do, you know, and SBDC, along with the [Belize] Tourism Board, have provided this opportunity for us, which I think is great.”
Equally critical to marketing is providing adequate information through customer service. Adam Ramadam specializes in handicraft at the Tourist Village.
Adam Ramadam, Craftsman
“It’s a lot of benefit and I have been in many like this before as it teaches how to develop yourself and conducting business in the tourism area which is one of the most important areas of business in Belize. In different ways you learn how to deal with tourists, different types of tourists to understand what they want, what they like to make them feel happy and welcomed in Belize and since I give them a product that they are satisfied with and they would be happy to tell the people back home to come to Belize and do the same.”
“The tourism industry, particularly where it concerns the independent tour operators and the vendors is very competitive. In terms of an advantage or an edge, what does this particular training provide to the participants?”
“Basically this training provides key components of them understanding how to have good customer service and how to market their product. In terms of key marketing and customer service it will teach them what personal attributes they have to have but also what procedural attributes they have to have in order to deliver to their guests and let them understand that sometimes in them being zealous and trying to get that customer they are actually driving the customer away rather than driving them to the business. So it’s also letting them understand that tour guides, tour operators, vendors, hair braiders, food vendors are all connected and so that they can really create a connection in between them and instead of fighting each other they can be feeding each other in terms of the business that they make.”