Tourism-based businesses must place much greater focus on tools which can allow them to measure customer satisfaction as a means of "training and motivation," according to the President of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association Stuart Bowe.
Bowe said that given The Bahamas’ status as a high cost destination and given the glut of countries offering the simple combination of "sun, sand and sea”, it is service levels which will distinguish The Bahamas as a destination.
However, he said that not enough businesses are measuring customer satisfaction with service levels and therefore have little way of knowing whether they are improving or deteriorating, or taking steps to address them.
"At the national and industry level is the continuing need to improve the visitor customer service experience by developing and using measurement tools for everything that impacts our tourists.
“The measurement starts from booking a vacation and every encounter in between until check-out. 'Service excellence' can be the only goal in this global tourism economy full of competitive sun, sand, and sea product offerings.
"As a high cost destination, creating value through people interactions is our competitive advantage, and our business goals should reflect this focus.
“Nothing drives business like word of mouth marketing and more recently social media referrals,” Bowe stressed.
He was speaking as recent results of a BHTA survey of hotels indicated that over half were unprofitable in 2013, due to a combination of capital investment, high utility costs, and other factors. The results also came as a Caribbean Tourism Organization report, the State of the Industry 2014, indicated that only Barbados experienced a greater decline in stopover arrivals than The Bahamas in the region in 2014.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Bowe said that overall there have been improvements in customer satisfaction in The Bahamas based upon visitors' responses on exit surveys, and the hotels which measure customer satisfaction have seen improvements, "particularly when they tie the data to training”.
However, Bowe said that "far more focus" is needed on measurement tools as a basis for training and motivation to improve customer service.
"With the increasing regional and global competition, we can't afford to have dissatisfied customers and pocket of the industry with no metrics," he said.
Meanwhile, with service excellence as the goal for the industry, Bowe said that the BHTA has been doing a lot of work within schools in recent years to help develop service levels. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism has changed the Bahamas Host program to "predominantly focus on customer service," said Bowe.
"In the coming months you will see a greater focus by the BHTA on service excellence," he added.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: February 20, 2014