06 May, 2007

Tourism Standards

Compare Cayman. We all know that tourism is the most important industry in Anguilla. What are we doing to raise standards and to ensure uniform and consistent high standards? The biggest complaint you hear from visitors who say they will not be returning is shoddy treatment and exorbitant prices. Exorbitant does not mean high. It means the price was excessive for what was delivered.

So I was fascinated by an article in a recent issue of the Cayman Observer showing what they are doing to improve standards. They have hired a consultancy firm to send persons fanning out across Grand Cayman, seeking seats in restaurants, approaching hotel desks, passing through immigration counters, and hailing taxicabs. The analysts will ask stupid questions and make outrageous demands, testing local patience and knowledge, probing the fa├žade of service. Each analyst will record every response, scoring every establishment they encounter. The research will involve 86 properties, and 7 analysts, who will spend 73 days completing a broad checklist of between 500 and 1,200 standards, then informing each property of its results within 24 hours. They will then train as many as 2,000 key people in service standards and performance. Focus groups will speed development of what are called “national promises”, international service standards customized for the Cayman Islands.

While most Anguillian customers feel that their expectations are met or exceeded, a significant number of them feel that Anguilla is too pricey and not good value. High costs and poor value must be the most frequently mentioned by those who say they will not return to Anguilla. It would be good to hear that the Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association and the Tourist Board are considering making a similar effort to raise standards here. We cannot just continue to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.


  1. A couple reported on anguillaforum.com that they had a $900 deposit with Frangipani Beach Club several years ago. A hurricane came through about a week before they were due to arrive. All flights were cancelled and they couldn't get here. They contacted Frangipani and asked that their deposit be moved to a later date. They were reminded of the hotel's 30-day cancellation policy, the hotel was open, and in effect, "Too bad, that's our policy."

    The hotel has since acquired a new owner whose ethics are, in my opinion, even lower, and the former operator is building a new place down the beach.

    People tend to generalise about such things. "We went to Anguilla and were ripped off." This hurts the entire tourism sector and thus the entire economy. Only government has the authority to establish and enforce standards and regulations.

  2. The BVI has a similar standards programme for all those who come in contact with visitors, including the general public. Their Tourist Board states that the implementation of high service standards will greatly enhance the BVI tourism product, and this in turn will generate more tourism dollars in our economy with an end result of an enhanced quality of life for all residents of the BVI.

    St. Helena, another Overseas Territory, will be implementing accomodation standards and grading this year.

  3. Go to the Accommodations page on Anguilla's main tourist forum:
    http://www.anguillaforum.com ,
    scroll down about half way and click on the thread called "Don't go to Bellavista". These visitors seem to have been treated very badly by the villa owner, one Ingrid Weger of Toronto.

    After 10 days they were ignored by the villa owner, the ATB, the Tourism Dept., AHTA, and the Ministry of Tourism. There needs to be an ombudsman-type of official who Anguilla's visitors can go to, instead of having to complain to hundreds of other visitors and potential visitors on the internet. And of course for everyone who complains there are 10 or 20 who don't complain but just never come back.

    Visitors are not a renewable resource and we have none to spare. I don't know or care about Ingrid Weger, but her conduct reflects poorly on all of us.

  4. I think that Anguilla is way too pricey and the prices keep sky rocketing. Not only the costs of the Cap, Malli and Cuisinart, but also private rental villas are soaring out of price. One can't even begin to imagine what the price of the St. Regis will be. Private villas are being built larger and larger and it isn't unusual to see $2000 a night. Look at the price of the newly opened Sheriton Estates, $4600 to $11,000 a night! Just look at the type of tourist accommodations that are being built. Anguilla is obviously trying to position itself as an island for the rich and famous, and in doing so they're going up against even more demanding clientele. When you're asking someone to pay these exorbitant prices they have the right to expect exceptional service.

  5. Anguilla is totally out of price and control. I can not imagine what it would be like soon. Somehow I believe that this place would be turn into a concrete jungle left unoccupied. I do not anticipate more and more touist coming to our shores,because look how the island is degrading more and more it is a hassle to ride around in Anguilla, conjestion and smoke all around. I work in the industry and that is what you hear 95% of the time. Anguilla has changed too rapidly, and there is no difference to coming to Anguilla any more. The uniqueness has gone. Too sad.

  6. Look around and see if what is happening in Anguilla is for Anguilla, look at the load of foreign Indian workers come in to Anguilla again. Why should this ever happen? Development should be for the populace not an investor, after this then what? Anguillians Be careful how you all spend your all money and getting into financial debt. God bless that some of the caribbean foreigners are here so that Anguillians (most can get their flats rented else they would be in a mess. The pirates are back and they are here to take charge as you can see. My Question is why should a country develop like this in this manner and the people are not getting the maximum out of it. This has only changed the island, and I am sure that the local small business man/woman can not say they are better off. They have to pay all their taxes, look at for e.g hairdressers, so many are here are they paying their dues, business licenses? and they are getting plenty jobs ,who checks to see the environment in which buisness is conducted but the local is tagged and they have to pay yearly. Every body that comes to Anguilla is a contractor, charging from 70-80 US dollars a day, never did construction have a work permit with Harry and running around soaking up all the jobs with Peter, Fred and Tom. What is this in Anguilla?.

  7. Sheriton Estates' grand opening was scheduled for 27th December. In the final hours everyone except the manager was running up and down putting the finishing touches on the building and trying to put the furniture together. The manager seemed to believe her job was to sit in her office and not get her hands dirty. The first guests were coming and they had been assured everything would be ready. They showed up, took a look around, went to Altamer and were MOST unhappy.

    Sheriton Estates was off to a great start.

  8. With the average tourists being squeezed out of Anguilla by the influx of high end villas, the expectations and demands will continue to increase comensurate with the price of the lodging. The slow easy pace of the caribbean will not be acceptable to someone who has flown in on their private jet and is paying $2000-$10,000 per night. This is all part of what should be expected as Anguilla has made a concerted effort to appeal to the upscale tourism market.

  9. Training good workers for the service sector starts in the home. Since that has failed in many homes, it has to start in the schools. The United Front promised us in 2005 "increased provision for techinical and vocational education at the secondary level." By today we should have had 200 to 300 full time students in vocational training and basic three-Rs related education so that they can read without moving their lips when they graduate.

    What we've gotten is about 65 students putting in a half day a week at the excellent WISE programme at the Cottage Hospital, a principal who thinks WISE is a place to send students for punishment, a Minister who whines that he's on a learning curve and wants to micro-manage the Heath Authority and a PS and Chief Education Officer who have been refused sufficient funding to do their jobs effectively.

    It is pathetic.

  10. No, dis can't be so. Look here at the lead headline in The Anguillian. "The Honourable Chief Minister (only in tin hat dictatorships in central Africa do newspapers pander so), sporting a bright yellow necktie...was happy with the progress being made on the island."

    His happiness derives in part from signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Madeariman Project in Shoal Bay owned by the Harrigan family. I wonder if the daughter and family of the late Elaine Philip shares Bunton's happiness.

  11. In a couple of years two large resorts will open up.From their size they will need 700-800 workers across the board.Where will they come from? These are supposed 5 star properties, if Anguillians are to work there who will train them? Soon anguilla will be like Bermuda, importing hundreds of seasonal professionally trained workers to work the resorts. They high rental prices and the expected level of service will require it.


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