FCCA Travel and Cruise Magazine – 1st Qtr. 2022

Building a Strategic Training Plan – How Important Is It?

 One of the biggest challenges faced by destinations as cruise and tourism resumes involves the people responsible for the visitor experience. With many returning to work after a long hiatus and many more new to cruise and tourism, destinations are challenged to ensure excellent guest experiences are being delivered. What plans can we put in place to help our teams elevate the visitor experience? What skills and knowledge do they need to develop? What gaps or new product opportunities have emerged that should be explored?  Every destination’s needs are different, from cruise destination partners and tour operators to frontlines, tour guides and drivers.  Service is now more important and more challenging than ever – how can we make certain that our tourism teams meet this challenge successfully?

The best answer lies in building a strategic training plan. To do that, there are many questions that need to be asked. For example:

  • What type of training is offered presently in your destination, for frontlines, for tour guides, for drivers, and for vendors?
  • What challenges exist with training for each of these groups?
  • What gaps exist in the training and development presently offered for each of these groups?
  • What training opportunities are offered to tour operators?
  • What challenges exist in shore excursion operations in your destination?
  • What gaps exist in shore excursion operations?
  • Are there products and experiences offered in your destination that could benefit from being enhanced or reimagined?
  • What gaps or needs can be determined based on the guest satisfaction ratings and feedback on your destination?
  • What gaps or needs can be determined based on cruise line feedback on your destination?

For over 12 years, the Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence has been helping destinations raise the level of excellence in their guest experiences. We approach training by working with the port destination to build a training strategy that is sustainable and customized to meet its unique needs, including assisting with prioritizing, timelines, and meeting budgets for one or multi-year strategies.    

A few recent examples of destinations we have worked with who have taken such a strategic approach are Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe Tourism, PROCOLOMBIA and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Each of these destinations has invested in training in different ways and each has committed to prepare their teams for the growth ahead. Cayman started 2021 with training of drivers and tour guides and are currently determining how to build on that plan to include tour operators and product development for 2022. Puerto Rico has a full training plan underway to prepare for the FCCA Conference in San Juan in June, including training for frontlines, attractions, tour operators, tour guides and cruise readiness for their new emerging ports. Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Colombia continue yearly investments in training of their teams. It is the destinations that make those crucial investments in yearly training strategies that will grow their tourism capacity in a sustainable way.

As part of the suite of benefits of the FCCA Platinum Partner-Membership program, a Service Needs Assessment for Building a Training Strategy with Aquila is offered at no charge for the duration of 2022.

At a time when destinations need visitor experiences to be second to none, training can give the people in the destination the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to deliver excellence. There is always a return when investing in your people and building a training strategy will ensure you maximize your investment. When your teams understand the benefits of cruise tourism, they are better prepared and eager to wow their cruise guests.

Beth Kelly Hatt is the President of Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence, the FCCA’s official training partner. Aquila’s approach to training is one of assessing the needs of a destination or operator and developing a strategic training plan that helps raise the level of excellence throughout the destination. Contact Beth for more information at Beth@CruiseExcellence.com

Travel and Cruise 1st Quarter 2022 by Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association – Issuu: Building a Strategic Training Plan – How Important Is It?