Cuba goes Quality
The Sunny Heart Academy by Thomas Cook started a Quality Initiative with 26 hotels at 4 locations in Cuba. The program consists of two steps:
1. Step (August 2018): Seminar series with the following topics: Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, Service Excellence and Hygiene Management
2. Step (End of 2018/ beginning of 2019): Individual hotel training measures in each of the 26 hotels
The 28 seminar days (in total) with 4 experienced speakers have been a great success and a huge benefit for all participants.One of the speakers in Cuba is Annika Bergner, Customer Experience Manager at Thomas Cook.
Sunny Heart Academy: You trained the topic Service Excellence. Could you please explain what the seminar is about in detail and why it was part of the seminar series?
Annika Bergner: For us, working at Thomas Cook, ‘Customer at our heart’ is constantly present and clear. But what do we mean with that? How can we translate this into our customer’s hotel experience? That’s what the seminar Service Excellence is about. We cover the importance of customer experience management and customer journey nowadays, guest’s expectations in relation to Service and how they are directly linked to customer satisfaction. Also we touch on communication tips & tricks, how to deal with different customer types and we discuss the power of feedback, customer complaints and service recovery. It’s a very interactive full-day session with lots of examples and exercises. The seminar is not as operations-focused as Food & Beverage, Housekeeping or Hygiene Trainings, but it links all these trainings together and gives them a more holistic context.
Sunny Heart Academy: How was your experience with the seminars in Cuba?
Annika Bergner: It’s been really exciting. Cuba is a fascinating unique destination, a beautiful place to go and discover. The participants have been extremely positive and thankful for the opportunity to join the range of trainings. They shared their experiences and were very open for new ideas and impulses from Thomas Cook. Of course, we as trainers needed to be flexible and adjust the training to the individual needs. It’s been great days with very insightful and constructive conversations.
Sunny Heart Academy: Why is a “Quality Initiative” like this a benefit for a destination?
Annika Bergner: It truly shows that we take quality and our customer-focus seriously. The initiative is an effective, condensed way to spread knowledge, help with quick wins and trigger improvements. Customers are used to certain standards around the world, and they expect hotels to live up to their expectations in various destinations. Our trainings bring service and quality to life. As an example, the Service Excellence training is not about rocket science, but a very good chance to share the ‘Customer at our Heart’ philosophy and fresh up staff’s skills. We believe that delivering great service and taking customers at our heart can differentiate us in the competitive battle of hospitality. The human touch decides about whether customers will recommend and love our hotels and can’t wait to come back. There’s always something we can learn or improve on, we all do - every day.
Sunny Heart Academy: Do you think the seminars will help the hotels to increase their quality?
Annika Bergner: I am very optimistic about that. The Quality Initiative was organized very well by the teams involved and turned out to be a new way to tackle the quality challenges we see in Cuba. We had representatives and staff from different hotels around the table and discussed opportunities and limitations jointly together. The people I’ve met are extremely experienced in serving customers and I am confident they will be great multiplicators as well. They appreciated the content of the training and were very eager to get follow-up materials and even more trainings. Now they can take the key messages back to their hotels and teams, and we can support them with more tailor-made trainings and improvement plans next year.
As already proved in other destinations and hotels our seminars and training programs helped to improve quality. We are looking forward to see the first results in Cuba soon.