Weary tourists arrive in Grand Cayman after a long flight with their small children. They then have to negotiate their way to an office building in George Town to collect from it the key to their guest room on Seven Mile Beach. Some time later, having encountered heavy traffic and a headache, they finally arrive at their $800 a night guest quarters.
This is the type of scenario that Senior Hotel Inspector and PRIDE customer service trainer Janet Holness stated has to stop in the Cayman Islands.
She was speaking about security issues at some tourist properties and noted that often guests’ keys are placed in a lock box, under a rock, above door frames, or left at another establishment for guests to pick up. Some doors are even left unlocked.
She was speaking at a Tourist Accommodation Inspection and Licensing seminar which took place Thursday afternoon at the Reliable Industries’ training room.
Referring to the scenario of guests having to pick up their key from another location, Mrs Holness said, ‘That’s not service. We’re in a business. If you don’t want to do it, get out of this business.’
She told managers and tourist accommodation staff in attendance that there is a need to have some representative at a property to greet guests. ‘If we want to have high standards, this type of thing comes along with it,’ she said.
Mrs Holness said the whole issue is making sure that guests are getting value for their money. ‘We need someone to greet the visitor, show them where things are,’ she said.
Speaking about the PRIDE programme, which is a customer service training programme being provided for free by the Department of Tourism, Mrs Holness said she would like to see it more of a mandatory thing for tourism employees to take part in and she encouraged all who had not done so yet, to participate.
‘We can never get enough customer service,’ she said.
At the licensing seminar, attendees were reminded of what’s expected of them during the licensing inspection process as licences must be renewed annually.
Mrs Holness told attendees, ‘We’re here to help you and to work with you’.
Each property that seeks to be licensed under the Tourism Law as a ‘tourist accommodation’ must have an annual inspection and re-inspection conducted by the Department of Tourism, Cayman Islands Fire Service and Department of Environmental Health Inspectors.
Tourism Development Services Manager with the DoT, Ms Racquel Brown said they try to ensure they work with the properties so they are adhering to laws.
Ms Aliya Dunstan, Product Development Officer with DoT and Secretary to the Hotels Licensing Board, pointed out that operating a tourism property without a licence is an offence and there is a fee of $100 per guest per day if a property is found to be doing this.
‘We are beginning to enforce this,’ Ms Dunstan stated.
Apartments, condos, guest houses and villas must be licensed on or before 1 September while hotels must be licensed on or before 1 November.
Inspection period for apartments, condos, guest houses and villas is 15 April to 15 August (previously 30 August).
Inspection period for hotels is now 15 June to 15 October (previously 31 October).
They have brought forward the closing date so that there are still a couple of weeks cushioning before 1 September or 1 November for further inspections, if needed, to encourage everyone to be operating legally within the proper time frame and to lessen the strain on the three inspecting agencies towards the end.
Ms Dunstan explained that no less than 30 per cent of the rooms being offered as tourist accommodations must be inspected either in one inspection or over a period of no more than two inspection visits by the DoT.
Commenting on this, Ms Dunstan said, ‘If room 505 is never available for us to inspect over the years, this would raise a red flag for us.’
All licences are granted or renewed by the Hotel licensing Board based on successful reports from each inspecting department and a submission of an application and licence fee.
Monthly tourism accommodation occupancy reports need to be submitted to DoT each month even if there have been no occupants. They are now due by the 10th day of the month, rather than the 15th, the seminar heard.
‘The Department of Tourism needs to have this information to know how the Cayman Islands is doing and the breakdown as it relates to how hotels, villas condos are doing,’ said Ms Dunstan.
Fire Prevention Officer Tina Choy of the Fire Department and Mr. Gideon Simms, senior food safety officer with the Department of Environmental Health, gave guidelines on what they look for during the licensing process.