You can't get away with just being hip and
trendy. In today's ultracompetitive tourism market, a world-class
destination requires world-class service.
That's the message
the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is hoping to get
across to Miami's hospitality workers in a new campaign aimed at
erasing the destination's reputation for indifferent customer
Begins With Me," the program aims to educate frontline employees
like waiters, bellmen, front-desk staff, airport workers and taxi
drivers about the importance of making visitors feel
growth and viability of our destination is dependent on meeting and
exceeding the expectations of visitors," said William Talbert,
president of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors
The bureau hired
"secret shoppers" to visit about 60 tourism-related businesses --
including hotels, restaurants, shops and the Miami airport -- to
gauge how helpful and friendly employees were. The bureau even
spied on itself to see if it was putting its money where its mouth
"Overall, we all
did OK, but OK doesn't cut it when you're striving to be a
five-star destination for the high-end customer," Talbert
Among the shoppers'
findings: Hospitality workers in the Miami area often failed to say
the first hello, make eye contact or smile when approached by the
secret shoppers. Many also failed to tell customers their names
when engaged in conversation.
Babel no barrier
Among the area's
hotels, high-end properties generally scored better in customer
service than their midscale counterparts, although charging top dollar for
a hotel room didn't always equate with providing top service, the
secret shoppers found.
industry's large number of foreign-born workers, who are often
cited as a barrier to good communication between tourists and
hospitality employees, fared well, according to the CVB's
"We have some 87
languages spoken in our public schools, which gives you an idea of
how rich and mobile our workforce is," Talbert said.
top-performing hotels also employ a diverse workforce, so it just
goes to show how far we've moved the needle during the last few
years, although we need to do better."
Rolando Aedo, the
bureau's vice president of marketing, said the CVB has set aside an
initial budget of $200,000 this year to kick off the campaign with
a series of ads promoting the "Miami Begins With Me" slogan on
buses and billboards and in print media.
The bureau is also
seeking private and public funds to cosponsor training sessions
with frontline hospitality workers using existing programs like
those offered by Florida International University.
Aedo said by the
first quarter of next year, the bureau plans to expand the program
and roll out a dedicated Web site, Miamibeginswithme.com, which
will contain material that co-op partners will be able to integrate
into their own training programs.
The CVB will also
cosponsor a customer-service recognition program with the taxi
industry and is developing programs with the Miami airport and
"The bureau is not
trying to reinvent the wheel and replace the very good training
programs that our hospitality partners currently have, but we'd
like to help give the entire industry a boost with this new
campaign," Aedo said.
contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].