Updated: August 19, 2022 10:14
Hospitality managers support claims that service standards within the industry need to be improved.
Hoteliers and restaurateurs have also lent their support to a campaign to attract Bermudians to the tourism sector.
Stephen Todd, chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said many Bermudians do not see tourism as a viable career option – and that mindset needs to change.
Mr Todd spoke out in favor of Tracy Berkeley, acting chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. In a radio interview on Tuesday, Ms Berkeley said: ‘For our price, our service levels are not where they should be.
She added that Bermudians were better equipped than guest workers to deliver higher standards of service because they were native to the island.
Mr. Todd said: “If we are to be successful in growing our tourism product and that of our industry, we must provide the highest levels of prompt, efficient and courteous customer service.
“I don’t think we’ve consistently met and exceeded that benchmark yet.”
He said the guest workers were doing “a terrific job”, but agreed with Ms Berkeley that Bermudians had something special to offer by positively affecting the overall guest experience.
He said: ‘We continually hear that Bermudians want to be served by Bermudians, but those same Bermudians don’t see the hospitality industry as a viable long-term career path when they should be. My opinion.
“We get similar feedback from our customers, in our case our hotel guests. When they go out for a meal or to a bar, they keep wondering and wondering why there are no Bermudians working there. “Why am I not served by Bermudians”?
“I think our guest workers do a wonderful job, but they don’t necessarily know the island as well as the Bermudians. It may be more difficult for them to answer questions and to know our history and to transmit information.
“From a hospitality industry perspective, we continue to look for ways to encourage our fellow Bermuda to consider the industry as a viable career path. Unfortunately, so far we just haven’t been able to get them back in the numbers we need.
Mr Todd said the association was working with the government to create a program to promote the hospitality industry in schools.
“Industry representatives can go to schools and clearly describe what a great career it is and how important it is to the future growth and sustainability of our economy,” he said. .
“Some Bermudians see working in tourism as a short-term job because they see it as waiting time before moving on. We must work collectively to change this mindset.
Karl Massam, head of the Chamber of Commerce’s catering division and managing director of the Yellowfin catering group, also said he wanted to see more Bermudians working in the tourism sector.
He said: “We need to do a better job of engaging our young people and highlighting the benefits of working in the hospitality industry. I believe this can be achieved by interacting with students through the signature school curriculum in elementary and high school.
“Currently, we don’t clearly illustrate the pathways for training and growth within our industry. Hospitality staffing around the world has been in decline for a decade now and Covid-19 has accelerated this trend.
“Now is the time to find our own solutions and for the industry and its partners to come together.”
Hospitality can put you on a rewarding career path
In their interviews with The Royal Gazette Yesterday, Mr. Todd and Mr. Massam highlighted the many benefits of working in the tourism industry.
They quashed rumors of poor pay and unsocial hours, insisting the industry offers a wide range of rewarding career paths.
Responding to the “widespread view” that hospitality workers were poorly paid, Mr Todd acknowledged that some staffing positions were heavily dependent on tips.
But he added: “Painting our industry with the same brush doesn’t really reflect the industry as a whole.
“There are a number of career paths that can be pursued in the hospitality industry. Compensation in some areas of hospitality is comparable to other industries.
Mr Massam said there were many success stories where Bermudians entered the industry from the bottom and had long and successful careers.
He said: “Whether first-hand or second-hand, the achievements and progression of hospitality workers must be passed on to potential recruits.
“There are many motivational stories about how many of us started out as porters or waiters and then progressed to become chefs, restaurant managers, banquet or catering managers – and in some cases even owners. “
Both said attitude was the key to success – both personally and for the island industry in general.
Mr Todd said: “We have to distinguish between service and servitude.
“You have to have the right attitude. If you’re interested in interacting with people, in helping people, if you’re genuinely interested in a career – that’s what will bring us back to the level of service that once made Bermuda unique – we need to get that reputation back if we are to grow our tourism economy.
Mr Massam said he was working with industry partners to create a committee to resolve personnel issues.
He said: “While BTA’s feedback is welcome, as are past workforce development efforts in collaboration with industry through the Learn to Earn program, industry as a whole together must do more.
“I personally would like to see a national training program, a hospitality training and career center and hospitality trade shows.”