As part of its 10th Anniversary Celebration, the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in collaboration with the Ghana Tourism Authority has held a one-day Workshop on customer service for players in the Tourism industry in the Central Region.
Speaking at the workshop, the Acting Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, Prof. Francis Eric Amuquandoh, commended the Department for initiating such a programme to train people, and create awareness on Hospitality and Tourism Management. Prof. Amuquandoh said the idea to hold the workshop was laudable since it would help refresh the minds of existing employees in the Hospitality and Tourism industry.
The Provost, however, urged the Department to find possible ways of recalibrating the training materials to suit those with little or no educational background in the informal context. He noted that the players' in the Tourism industry had a critical role to play in providing service to visitors, especially, non-locals in order to understand and adjust to the local settings. He, therefore, appealed to them to participate fully in order to get informed and educated. He commended the Ghana Tourism Authority for collaborating with the Department and assured the participants of a fruitful training.
Repositioning Hospitality and Tourism Industry in the Central Region
The Head, Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Prof. Kwaku A. A. Boakye expressed gratitude to the Ghana Tourism Authority for the collaborative effort to make the training workshop possible. Prof. Boakye indicated that the workshop was being organised to help reposition Hospitality and Tourism in the Central Region to be more competitive, especially receiving and hosting tourists. “This is because the happier the tourist or visitors are, the longer they will stay, and the more they are likely to spend,” he noted.
Prof. Boakye added that the workshop was also to help enhance service delivery in Cape Coast and the entire Central Region. He thanked front-liners in the industry in Cape Coast and its environs for their overwhelming response and also granting permission to their representatives to participate in the programme. He encouraged the participants to use the workshop as an opportunity to learn and retrain themselves in the industry.
Prof. Boakye thanked Dr. Eunice Fay Amissah and Prof. Ishmael Mensah who facilitated the workshop for their insightful, educative and informative presentations. He congratulated the participants for their contributions and participation throughout the programme. He said, “Going forward, series of such workshops will be held to help link academia, industry, regulators and stakeholders, to boost the Hospitality and Tourism industry in the Region”.
Sharpening Skills of Players in the Tourism Industry
In a remark, the Head of Ghana Tourism Authority, Central Region, Mr. Kwame Gyasi, applauded the Department for the initiative to organise the training workshop to equip players in the industry by sharpening their skills. He again commended the Department for organising the programme to coincide with the period for the celebration of the “Year of Return – Panafest and Emancipation” to be hosted in Cape Coast and Elmina. He stated that “This workshop will be a trainer of trainers because our collaboration seeks to use this programme to begin the series of training to be given to operators in the industry by the Ghana Tourism Authority.”
Expectation of the Customer is Very Key
A Certified Hospitality Educator, Dr. Eunice Fay Amissah, who spoke on customer service, said that players in the industry should be proactive enough to realise and understand the expectations of the customer through trust, responsiveness, empathy, assurance and tangibles (facilities). She advised the participants to exhibit good customer service by treating people with courtesy; committing to quality service; knowing the products; fulfilling promises to customers, and focusing on customers and not only the profit margin. Stressing on the steps to good customer service, Dr. Amissah charged the participants to maintain good impressions and reminded them that “courtesy counts and attitude is doing the right thing”.
Handling Customer Complaints
The Ghana Director of Confucius Institute, UCC, Prof. Ishmael Mensah, explained how to handle customer complaints and difficult customers indicated that most of the complaints would result from either employee attitude, hotel equipment malfunctions, attitudes and service-related issues, therefore, staff concerned should take responsibility to prevent them from happening than to think of addressing them after they had happened. Describing difficult customers, he stated that “The aggressive customer, - readily complains, often loudly and at length; the high-roller customer - expects the absolute best and is willing to pay for it, and is likely to complain in a reasonable manner; the rip-off customer - their goal is not to get the complaint satisfied but to win by getting something that is not entitled to be received. Continuing, he said, the chronic complainer – is never satisfied, feels there is always something wrong; the meek customer - generally, will not complain, but are the most dangerous to businesses because they will most often complain to others.”
Prof. Mensah noted that handling customer complaints was very crucial in the industry because “the complaints ensure customers regular patronage; positive word-of-mouth and referrals and to know which area of the service needs to improve and how to ensure that other customers do not suffer the same fate”.
Highlighting on some of the principles to handle customer complaints, he said employees must be trustworthy, respectful, understanding, sensitive and time conscious. He said employees must be smart enough to find the right measures to prevent service failure from occurring, rather than finding solutions to them after they had occurred. “Take responsibility, apologise and re-assure the customer when you happen to fail to provide a service,” he advised.
The participants for the workshop included staff of hotels, drinking bars, boatels, car rentals, restaurants, castles and parks Cape Coast and Elmina.