Customer Service in Caribbean Tourism

In some of my articles, I make reference to 'Customer Service' or 'the service oriented mentality'. Tourism is a people to people enterprise and being oriented towards a 'Customer Service' mentality is fundamental to success in this field.


Customer service has always been a key aspect of what Caribbean customer facing tourism companies were delivering. But the awareness to improve these skills and to expand the availability of these tools to other businesses, as well as to the public, appears not only to be improving but to be getting a serious upgrade.

More and more countries through their hospitality industries and tourism agencies are elevating their delivery of these important qualities and the Caribbean is no exception. Recently, however, this seems to have reached a critical mass where many countries are investing heavily in training for service quality. This is not a snapshot in time set of qualifications, so continual improvement is also a key component because other World destinations are also in this game.

I come from a retail background where 'Customer Service' is the most important feature that retail employees can provide. Simply, 'Customer Service' is servicing customers needs and meeting or exceeding customer expectations in this delivery of your company's mandate. It underpins all aspects of interaction between any type of employee of a company and the customer. Simple as this sounds, it requires imagination, full knowledge of the products and services on offer and thinking on your feet. It is a serious demand on the individuals resources to meet these needs on a daily basis. In this more complex world where the range of products and services on offer is expanding apace, this is not so easy. It is literally, to borrow a term, where the rubber meets the road. So, ongoing training is also a requirement and most companies will offer at least some form of 'Customer Service' training.

In many cases, the service oriented approach is the difference between a customer buying or not buying, so its importance in building a company's sales numbers is critical to success. Rather than bluffing, for example, often the best approach is admitting you don't know, but you will do what it takes to find out —in other words, customers will usually respect that an employee can't know everything, so it is the effort and attitude of the employee that deliver. Requesting the assistance of another employee, or at a higher level such as a manager, will make the customer feel that they are valued.

Selected Articles

Here are some articles that discuss customer service as have been published in Caribbean media in the last few years, particularly the last 3-4 years where, it seems, customer service awareness is being propelled by heavy investments in training in many destinations. This may be associated with the need to build tourism quickly after the COVID pandemic but was becoming mainstream before that. It signals awareness that the Caribbean is in a wider competition for visitors where other World tourist destinations are also in the race. Another important component of this discussion is knowing about and keeping ahead of what other companies and destinations are doing.

AHTA offers customer service training to industry workers, Antigua Nice, 2012

"Everyone will agree that customer service is one of the most important areas of a company's overall strategy in conducting business. Without customers you really don't have a business."

This article, from 2012, shows that customer service has been an important goal for many years.

Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority launches D.E.E.R Program Antigua & Barbuda by by Linda S. Hohnholz, eTurboNews, 2022

"Delivering excellence every single time, is everyone’s responsibility."

Antigua Cruise Port Launches 'summer Cool' Community Training Series, Antigua Observer Newspaper, 2022

"One of the major lessons we learned from COVID was how isolated we can feel going through our daily lives without truly connecting with others about the issues that matter to us. This can be especially true for small business owners. We want our port stakeholders to know that they do not have to do it all alone. It can be extremely helpful to connect and learn from each other, but we must create opportunities like this so that people have a chance to do that. By seeing us all as a part of the bigger picture, we can see how important each person is in helping us achieve our collective success. That is what this program is about."

Aquila/FCCA deliver frontline customer service training in St. Maarten, 2019 (

"Going forward, the intention is to have all frontline workers participate in training to better serve visitors and locals."

Bahama Host training for AMMC staff, Eye Witness News, 2022

"Providing effective customer service training is gradual and does not end on the first day of training. As a result, onsite training will continue to be offered so that employees are aware of their role and importance in the company’s success."

"One must have strong communication and problem-solving skills to deliver excellent customer service."

Castries market vendors are hailed as being essential to the plans for improving the competitiveness of the island as a one-of-a-kind destination, Caribbean Kiss FM, 2018

"Minister Belrose told the vendors that they represent the “faces of Castries”. She said that revamping the city of Castries is a priority for the government and the role of vendors is significant, because they are ones essentially selling the city to visitors."

Contact Centre Course Catalogue - Centre for Development and Certification Training (CDACT), Grenada

Today, customers expect more from companies than ever before. [A catalogue of courses] designed around critical elements of customer service that create a unique experience for the people purchasing your products.

Continued Focus Placed on Enhancing Visitors' Experiences, The St Kitts Nevis Observer, 2022

"Minister Grant noted that improving customer service is a key part of enhancing the visitor experience and has translated into more revenue for businesses."

Customer service school to open in Dominica in September, Dominica News Online, 2018

"For her part, Executive Director of the TVET Council in Dominica, Paula Seraphin, explained that the certification that each student will be awarded will be recognized and respected throughout the Caribbean and in many parts of the world.

She said in light of the increase in hotels, the new hospital and the upcoming international airport, now more than ever there is a higher demand among the tourists for quality customer service."

Customer Service takes center stage in The U.S. Virgin Islands, The Bahamas Weekly, 2018

"Having well-trained frontline team members in cruise destinations is critical, as they hold the guest experience in their hands. Their actions can make or break a guest experience, and greatly impact the guest satisfaction ratings in a cruise destination - and those ratings are an important factor in a cruise line's decision to call on a port."

Customer Service Training Conducted For Tourism Stakeholders In Barbuda, ABS TV Radio Antigua & Barbuda, 2022

Customer service training is what is important in the tourism business, Stabroek News, 2012

According to Philippa Morrish, "[I]f Guyana is going to compete then more training must be done, as the other countries have customer service “almost down to a science” and as such Guyanese need to improve what they are doing.

Respect is also important, and Morrish said for Guyanese to have respect for visitors they must start with respecting each other, since it is impossible to be disrespectful to your own and suddenly switch when interacting with visitors. “We have to promote respect among ourselves and when the guests come we would automatically be respectful to them,” she noted."

Customer Service Training Launched for Barbuda Tourism service providers, Antigua News Room, 2022

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James said, “Barbuda is a unique and amazing destination, and the warmth and hospitality of Barbudans is unrivalled. As demand for Barbuda has increased, with the introduction of tourism developments and dedicated tourism marketing campaigns for the island, now is the time for those on the tourism frontline to strengthen the quality of service they offer."

Customer Service Workshops benefit small business owners, The St Kitts Nevis Observer, 2018

"“What we are doing today is very critical and serious. We are of the view in the Ministry that customer service is very important,” said Director of the Department of Trade, Phillip Browne, while noting that without proper attention given to customer service, a business cannot survive."

DASPA security receives customer service training, Dominica News Online, 2019

"If you are supposed to be surviving, financially and otherwise, customer service must be at the core, so I commend the management for make this brave decision…to spend the money on the staff. I assure you it’s a great investment, continue to do it,” Thompson advised the Dominica Air and Sea Ports Authority (DASPA) employees."

DDA Frontline Personnel Receive Customer Service Training, GIS Dominica

"The training, dubbed ‘The Delivery of Quality of Service for Customers’ will provide tourism service providers with key components of the tourism product and the delivery of quality service."

Dennis I make no apologies for Buccoo's transformation, TnT Newsday, 2021

"Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis said customer service training is a must.

He said the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd will partner with a reputable, international customer service training entity to ensure workers in the sector receive a high level of training.

“That training will be very broad and it will be very rigorous and robust.”"

Pure Grenada, The Spice of the Caribbean focuses on customer service excellence, NOW Grenada, 2018

"Addressing participants at the closing ceremony, GTA CEO Patricia Maher told participants, "Our biggest asset is our people; therefore we have to work together to increase the number of visitors to the destination. If everyone plays their part in providing world class customer service, Pure Grenada will be ranked #1 for customer satisfaction"."

Improving Customer Service Dominica can become a haven for customer service, The Sun Dominica, 2022

"After many years of growing public complaints on the quality of customer care dished out by the front-line staff of some institutions, the Dominica Institute of Customer Service has accepted the ambitious challenge to change the customer service landscape across the country."

Mandatory customer service training will 'help improve tourism product', The St Kitts Nevis Observer, 2017

""We try to at least impart on them what customer service is all about and to indicate to them that for us customer service is No. 1 and for us to be competitive in this industry, we have to deliver excellent service all the time," he said."

Minister Grant Highlights Importance Of Customer Service To The Tourism Industry, The St Kitts Nevis Observer, 2016

"The Honourable Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism, said that it is important for persons within the tourism sector, as well as citizens and residents in general to practice exceptional customer service as it enhances the tourism product."

More Caribbean Professionals Complete Hospitality Training, South Florida Caribbean News, 2019

"Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation (CHTAEF) Chairperson Karolin Troubetzkoy said the workshops recognized the natural hospitality of Caribbean people and how it could be enhanced to meet the changing needs of today’s traveler. The sessions also presented participants with new skills to master as they strive to surpass guest expectations.

“Our industry is flourishing but there will always be competing forces out there, so it is very important for us to ensure our hospitality workforce is well educated and prepared to ensure the Caribbean region retains its position at the top of the world’s most desirable vacation destinations,” reminded Troubetzkoy."

More Than 150 Workers Benefit From Customer Service Training, Jamaica Information Service, 2015

"Speaking with JIS News, Deputy Chairman of the JaCSA, Richard Rowe, said through workshop sessions, the conference participants were exposed to the training and information needed to improve their awareness and understanding of customer service.

Mr. Rowe informed that JaCSA has done a lot of work in customer service training through its internationally certified programmes.

“We started out of the desire to raise service standards nationally and will continue on this path this year and years to come,” he noted.

“We believe that an engaged and satisfied employee will deliver exceptional (customer) service,” he added."

Niche markets, service to take Abaco to 'next level', The Tribune, 2018

"Excellent service that anticipates and exceeds the expectation of the guests will take Abaco to world-class, and excellent service is built on the foundation of ongoing training," he added. "Management everywhere in Abaco, I urge you to offer ongoing customer service training to your staff. The Ministry of Tourism has an extensive education and training department that can assist you with all your training needs."

Oistins vendors enhance customer service skills, The Barbados Advocate, 2022

"Several of our guests enjoy and rave about the Friday night experience in Oistins. However, beyond the Sandals guest, this training is intended to enhance the experience of all who visit the vibrant space. From locals to guests of other hotels, building the capacity of vendors ensures the highest standard of service is experienced by all."

Over 400 hospitality & tourism workers get 'service-centred' training from CHTA, TC Weekly News, 2022

"A record 415 hospitality & tourism employees across the Turks & Caicos Islands have completed a 24-day intensive training programme facilitated by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) Education Foundation."

Service-training classes goal to enhance tourist's experiences, The St Kitts Nevis Observer, 2018

"The sustainable development of the Federation’s human, natural and cultural resources will produce a consistently outstanding visitor experience, according to Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant. The minister said taking this approach will maximize opportunity, prosperity and quality for present and future generations."

THA has 3-year plan to change Tobago's service culture, TnT Newsday, 2021

“So, the intention is for us to treat with our longstanding customer service issues. We want to improve our customer service over the next three years. We want to change the service culture of this island and of course that will add significant value to Tobago as a tourism destination.” said THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis.

The Outsized Impact of Invisible Service Providers by Jeff Toister, CustomerThink, 2017

"An invisible service provider is someone the customer never sees or directly interacts with. 

Their service often goes unnoticed if they do their job well. And when things do go wrong, it’s a customer-facing employee who will serve the upset customer."

Tourism stakeholders to be trained in customer service, The Daily Herald, 2020

"The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) are implementing a customer-service and COVID-19-awareness training specifically for taxi drivers."

Tobago Tourism Agency launches customer service, CNC3, 2022

"“Customer service and customer service training do not operate in a vacuum. It exist and thrives only when the leaders of organisations and businesses, support and see the importance of customer service to their operations, staff, reputations and to their profit-line,” TTAL’s executive chairman Alicia Edwards stated."

Tourism Industry to Hold Customer Service Training Sessions, St. Croix Source, 2018

"We are committed to providing customer service training for our hardworking professionals in the tourism industry," said V.I. Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty. "We're in a global competition with other destinations, and today's discerning travelers make decisions based on many factors including their expectations of friendly, helpful and attentive service. This training helps us excel."

Tourism suffers in 2021, no easy way forward warn experts, Trinidad Guardian, 2021

"The Tobago Tourism Agency (TTAL) launched a destination wide customer service training programme which is facilitated by the renowned UpService Company.

The aim is to target 12,000 service champions across the tourism touch points eg customs, immigration, supermarkets, cafés etc."

Training series for Castries market vendors concludes, United Workers Party, 2019

"More than 40 vendors participated in this preliminary exercise, and expressed tremendous enthusiasm and gratitude to the facilitator and organisers.

"We are so thankful to Mr Crockett for imparting his knowledge to us and we are eager to put what we have learned into practice," said one of the vendors, during a short vote of thanks.

The workshop was facilitated by Mr James Crockett, a tourism consultant hired to deliver the training, under the OECS Regional Tourism Competitiveness Project (ORTCP).

Crockett ended the workshop by encouraging the vendors "to move with the times." He said: "You can’t stay where you are because the world is continuously changing. Tourists are looking for experiences, so integrate stories into selling your products. Become a product expert. For example, a coconut vendor can have a sign listing the benefits of drinking coconut water, a fruit vendor can begin selling smoothies made on the spot from local fruits like mango. Everybody wants to earn more money, so it’s easy to sell what sells, but it’s far more important to sell something uniquely and authentically Saint Lucian," Crockett asserted."