The Department of Tourism (DOT), in partnership with the University of Santo Tomas through the Office of Public Affairs, held a seminar-workshop on ‘The Filipino Brand of Service and Guiding Techniques’ from February 6 to 8, 2019 at the George S.K. Ty Function Hall of the UST Paredes Building. With more than 40 participants from the different faculties, colleges, and offices of the University, the three-day workshop served as the first workshop for the ‘UST Tour Guide Capability Building Series for UST Student Ambassadors.’ DOT–NCR Regional Office Operations Officer Ms. Ana Liza M. Lucas welcomed the participants and outlined the seminar-workshop mechanics.
“We are enjoined to be committed in promoting tourism in our country,” said Lucas in her welcome remarks, explaining further that this kind of program is the first to be conducted by DOT in partnership with a higher education institution.
UST Office of Public Affairs Director Assoc. Prof. Giovanna V. Fontanilla, APR, PhD, spoke on the ‘UST Brand,’ saying, “The UST brand is not limited to its many symbols and icons, or the way we describe it. All our actions as Thomasians – including those that are visual, written, or spoken – remain part of branding and reflect on the University, as well. With that said, this training now becomes a part of the collaborative efforts of Thomasians to not only strengthen the brand of the University of Santo Tomas as an institution of higher learning that is committed to excellence in academics, eminence in research, and exemplary community development, but also to inspire and challenge us to communicate it properly to our stakeholders.”
For the first day of the workshop, DOT trainor and Pioneer Professional Academy of Asia Senior Training Officer Mr. Gil Regondola was the resource person. With almost 15 years of experience in training service front liners and tour guides in customer engagement, he facilitated four training sessions on “The Filipino Brand of Service Excellence,” which he defined as ‘consistently meeting and exceeding the needs of the guests or customers and providing them with memorable experiences,’ “Understanding and Engaging Guests,” which is anticipating and providing the needs of the various stakeholder groups, “Delivering Service Excellence,” where he provided techniques to assist and satisfy the requests of guests, and “Service Recovery,” which is responding courteously to complaints and resolving guest concerns.
For the second and the third days, DOT Accredited Tour Guide Ms. Yael Fernandez, demonstrated guiding techniques and facilitated training activities in preparing and presenting a guiding script and site commentary.
On the third day, Fernandez, a seasoned and respected trainor who brings with her 20 years of wide experience in guiding and training, included two sessions of 2-hour long Mock Tours around the UST Campus, which served as a practical test for the participants.
Wearing their yellow UST tour guide caps on and sling bags for their tour paraphernalia, the UST Student Ambassadors took on the role of tour guides. During the mock tour, each presented a commentary on a significant site within the University. Upon completing the requisites of the seminar-workshop, the participants took their oath as the new UST Tour led by Mr. John Riel Binay Suarez, a student from the Faculty of Engineering. DOT-NCR Regional Office Officer-in-Charge Ms. Catherine C. Agustin gave recommendations to the new tour guides citing her 30 years of experience in the Tourism industry.
“First, we have to know by heart and understand the importance of excellent customer service. As members of the tourism workforce, or if you want to pursue working in the tourism industry, let us not forget to put attention to the services that we provide. It’s not enough that we have the facilities for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions), but we must also be competent in providing excellent, world-class service. Next, a place becomes interesting for tourists by the way the guide makes the history alive. So you have to be creative in delivering your commentary. It may have been your first time delivering a tour script today, but just practice. Know your craft, and know your history,” she shared.
“Continue enhancing your skills, because you are the future front liners. Your most important asset: one, your personality, and two, your huge energy for welcoming and assisting visitors. That’s the Philippines’ huge selling point,” Agustin added. Gifts of gratitude were exchanged between the Department of Tourism and the Office of Public Affairs.