Sir Richard Branson knows it and so should you. Responsible businesses recognise and live by the motto “your employees are your greatest assets”. In tourism, taking care of your staff is even more important because well-trained staff is the bedrock of good service and happy customers, including the South African Tourism industry.
Why are good staff so important in tourism?
Here are some of the best reasons why employees are important to your tourism business:
- Your employees are part of the South African tourism offering. How many times have you heard a tourist say “The tour guide on my tour was awesome…”
- Your staff and your guests interact – a lot. Guests interact with staff much more than they interact with you.
- You make a promise to guests in your marketing, but at the end of the day, you depend on your staff to deliver on the promise.
- Your staff markets your business as much your marketing department does. Everything they do sends a message about your business.
- If you want a satisfied guest, your staff have to perform well.
- And finally, if your staff is satisfied, they’re more likely to work hard to satisfy guests.
Your role in improving staff performance
Most tourism businesses recognise the importance of staff training but it takes more than just customer service training to put your best foot forward. In a responsible tourism business, every team member has a part to play, and your role is to understanding your team, getting your team to understand their role and finding ways to bring out your team’s best. Walt Disney sums it up nicely “You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to turn your dreams into reality”.
7 tips for making staff shine
Moulding and nurturing staff, and keeping them happy so that they’re less likely to leave, is a continuous process that starts from recruitment. Here are seven tips that can be considered for recruitment, training and development of employees
1. Recruit well
Taking on people who may not have the background or skills of the sector, but who display an aptitude for your business helps to diversify skills. At the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, a learnership programme called “Wholesale and Retail Operations”, equips young people with a general understanding of the business environment, stock counts and sales performance, customer service standards, team motivation, and management functions.
2. Discuss employment contracts
Make sure that contracts are discussed and understood before a new team member starts working. Remember that their employment conditions must respect the laws of South Africa, including those stipulated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Sectoral Determination 14 – Hospitality.
3. Provide staff training
You’ll need more than customer service training if ‘go green’ and becoming responsible is to be part of every action of employees. At Abang Africa, all employees are required to undertake a sustainability e-learning course (via Travelife.org) to increase general knowledge about sustainable practices and how to implement them in the working environment. To top this, all staff (and interns) have passed The Code online training and have learnt how to handle situations of suspected child abuse in tourism. The Vineyard Hotel’s “Awaken the Giant in you” programme teaches staff to view issues at home and work with solution based thinking and entrepreneurial skills/mindsets.
4. Provide job-shadowing
A job rotation system and job-shadowing scheme at the CTICC allow employees to gain experience or insight in other positions within the organisation. The Backpack “pays it forward” and allows working age children of employees to job shadow during school holidays – the youngsters get work experience, a bit of income and the Backpack potential new employees.
5. Engage with employees
Cape Town Tourism sets aside time at least once a year to ensure that all members of the team have an opportunity to provide input about their job performance, what they might like to do in the future and what areas they feel they need a bit more support in.
6. Provide employee incentives
As part of the hotel’s Avanti Programme, employees at Hotel Verde are incentivised to recycle and save energy and are all required to take part in recycling and energy saving duties. The sales and marketing team incorporate environmental events in their yearly calendar so that all staff may take part in initiatives such as Earth Hour, Arbor Month and National Beach Clean-up Day. Team achievement is part of the performance management criteria for team leaders.
7. Give recognition
Team leaders at Spier have use of a ‘basket of prizes’, containing small gifts such as movie tickets to award and recognize good performance. Employees at The Backpack are awarded points for time spent doing charity work – these points add up to a 13th cheque.
In a nutshell
Here is a summary of the seven tips, and what your tourism business will gain from happy employees. The Responsible Tourism “How-to Guide” has an entire section on developing skills – here you’ll find more tips and examples of training and development in action at tourism businesses in Cape Town.