keeping it diverse
training in hospitality
A higher level of service while travelling for the LGBT community will soon be the norm rather than the exception if two leading organizations have their way.
The Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has developed a diversity training program to ensure companies are actually walking the LGBT diversity talk, says Darrell Schuurman, president of Travel Gay Canada, the organization which will conduct the education process for the tourism industry.
“In other words, the training provides companies with the ability to ensure their employees understand the uniqueness and diversity of people, specifically LGBT people. What this does is that it ensures that the company is able to deliver on the promise they have made to the LGBT consumer,” says Schurmann.
“At the same time, what it also does is provides greater awareness internally of LGBT diversity, and helps to create a more safe and inviting workplace, where LGBT employees feel comfortable and able to be open about who they are.”
The first facility to begin phasing in the diversity-training program in Niagara is White Oaks resort. Early this summer, WO started the process of hosting a series of training seminars that would work through all of its employees which number near the 500 mark.
Their management team, front desk, concierge, bellmen and food and beverage staff have or will, all go through the program.
“We know we provide great quality service at White Oaks. That’s a given,” said Julie Lepp, WO director of marketing.
“But we want to provide our guests with one ‘wow moment’ when they stay with us. We see the diversity training program as being able to provide more ‘wow moments’ for our guests.”
As an example, Lepp outlined a simple example of what someone at the front desk may do as a matter of providing what they believed was superior service, but it could actually lead to an awkward moment.
“We could have a conference setting and have two men check in and their reservation is booked as one king. That may be viewed as a mistake and person may say, ‘Can we switch your reservation and get you in to a two-queen room?’ We would look at that as great customer service,” said Lepp.
“That is an unfortunate assumption. We would never do that to cause an uncomfortable situation, but it is part of how we would have dealt with it. We knew we had to do something.”
And that is where the CGL Chamber of Commerce and TGC enter the picture.
TGC, which is recognized as Canada’s gay and lesbian tourism association, coordinates the product development and marketing efforts of Canada’s tourism industry for the LGBT community by promoting gay and lesbian travel within Canada.
The seminars given to tourism sector employees is a half-day in duration. Included in the material are such items as: dissolving LGBT stereotypes; an overview of the impacts of homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism in the workplace; application of strategies when interacting with all employees and customers that include the LGBT community, and; an overall organization plan for businesses to “walk the talk”.
“The first version of the training was done in 2005. It was industry developed, which means that we had various individuals from industry within the HR field create it,” noted Schurmann.
“It is constantly reviewed and updated to ensure that the information is current and remains relevant. We are also able to customize it specifically for a company or a complete other industry. It is currently focused on the tourism industry.”
For a facility such as White Oaks, implementing the themes of the program are a natural.
“This will become part of our core training for staff. It is an investment just like health and safety practices,” said Lepp.
“We are the first hotel in the area to do it. That is typical of us. We are always looking for progressive ways to enhance our guests’ stays with us. We want to make them feel like they are at home.
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