February 8, 2021

A tour operator and trainer in Saint John, New Brunswick for almost forty years and providing training to the global cruise community with a focus on service excellence since 2007, all indications were that their upward growth trajectory would continue, but March 2020 was a turning point. With tourism and cruise at a halt, and no cruise tours in Port Saint John, Aquila decided to concentrate on the training side of the business, the Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence. In 2019, they had travelled to train in over 35 countries, primarily in the Caribbean and Central America, as they are the exclusive training partner of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association. Partners Beth Kelly Hatt, Melanie Colpitts and Danielle Timmons decided to invest fully in the team, which they felt would be crucial in the long-term success of the business. The question was how to adapt their in-person training to online and virtual training without losing the key ingredients that make their training successful? What programs could be adapted, what needed to change? And most importantly, how could their training remain relevant to their clients and appeal to new potential clients in today’s situation?

Through a process that involved their whole team, they answered those questions, and adapt they did. In 2020, they delivered over 60 training programs to 27 destinations, including tourism organizations, operators, and frontlines, such as hotel staff, restaurant servers, attraction staff, experience providers, taxi drivers, tour guides, and more. Through Aquila’s new and updated virtual workshops, online training courses and certifications, and interactive webinars, they have impacted over 5500 participants around the world, often reaching beyond the scope of the cruise industry to tourism in general. Their most popular programs have centered around how to adapt to the current realities and continue to give excellent service while following all the protocols, and they have received rave reviews for having a positive impact on struggling tourism teams and destinations. And while the road ahead for all of us in the tourism industry is long, Aquila’s passion for our industry, their genuine care and concern for its success, and their willingness to help everyone in tourism demonstrates that the key ingredient that makes them successful – the Aquila spirit – is strong and spreading.