Antigua and Barbuda: Eighty tourism professionals in Barbuda have earned Barbuda’s DEER Certification, having demonstrated their knowledge, skills, ability, and competencies to deliver quality customer experiences in completing the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s service excellence DEER Ambassador programme designed exclusively for Barbuda.
The DEER (Delivering Exceptional Experiences Repeatedly’) (Deliver Excellence Everyone Responsibility) Programme, launched early in July by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) in collaboration with the Barbuda Council, offers customer service certification issued by the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute.
A cross-section of tourism stakeholders in Barbuda, including taxi drivers, council employees, entrepreneurs, restauranteurs, hotel employees, tourism officials and police officers, took advantage of the intensive three-day certification course.
The first-ever graduates of the programme were recently presented with their certificates during an ABTA graduation ceremony attended by Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Tourism, Charles Fernandez. Other officials also in attendance at the ceremony were Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, Chairman of the Barbuda Council Mackenzie Frank, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C James and Tourism & Culture Chairperson within the Barbuda Council Casey Joseph.
In his congratulatory remarks, Minister Fernandez urged the graduates to view the experience not only as training but as a means of empowerment. “This is about empowering you; this is about taking it to the next level. And you can only do that if you feel empowered. You must understand that when you leave here, know that you are leaving as an empowered person equipped with the skills needed to do your job to the best of your ability.”
Further said the tourism minister, “As tourism stakeholders, you are all important links within the tourism chain, and your contributions, negative or positive, impact the workings of the entire Antigua and Barbuda tourism industry. From this day on, you are now tourism ambassadors and contributors to the success of the wider tourism product.”
Participants were full of high praise for the programme. Maureen Lee Simon – Office Manager, Barbuda Cottages and Uncle Roddy’s Bar, Restaurant & Grill called the training “interactive, interesting and re-affirming”.
“This training means that as service providers, we are returning to our workplaces more prepared and empowered to meet the needs of our guests and to provide them with the full experience they expect when they travel to Barbuda”, said Simon.
Simon recounts one of the lessons that has stood out for her, “We are all contributors. When a customer or visitor comes to Barbuda, their experience begins from when they land to when they leave. Every interaction they will have in Barbuda will contribute to their overall experience. And so, we must follow the DEER concept; our delivery of exceptional experiences is our responsibility.”
“The importance that has been placed on this programme by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority is a testimony to its success,” said Training Programme Concept Designer and Facilitator Shirlene Nibbs. “Investing in our human resources is a critical component in developing the Barbuda tourism product. We are excited to see how this cadre of Tourism Ambassadors will take what they have learnt back into their workplaces to aid in the next level of growth for Barbuda.”
Each graduate received an ambassador pin, while taxi drivers and small property owners also received ambassador decals for display on vehicles and accommodations. Ambassador plaques were provided to hotels and restaurants.
The DEER Ambassador programme will take place annually in Barbuda.