A passing grade

Earlier this week I attended one of the events held by the Holders Season of Opera, which I could only describe as excellent. From beginning to end, everything was extremely well orchestrated; the parking, the seating, the entertainment and the hospitality all received a passing grade.

As with most events that I attend, I seem not to be able to stop observing what is going on around me. The guests attending the event were very orderly and polite. They seem to be very conscious of interrupting others during the performances and often waited until an act was completed before crossing the path of others in the audience. All of the behaviours one would expect in any professional theatre.

As I observed this behaviour, I could not help but think, this is the image most people have of Barbados as a destination. I believe that people see us as a destination where civility and order form part of our fabric.

During the evening, there was a young man from Sawa on the coast of Cameroon in West Africa who performed and, although I thoroughly enjoyed his performance, it was a statement, which he made that got my attention more so than anything else did.

Muntu Valdo said that he was here performing during the Holders Season two years ago and from all feedback, patrons loved his performance and hence the reason he was back on this occasion. Muntu went on to say that being asked to return to perform was an awesome responsibility. Not only did he feel the need to live up to the expectations of those who had heard him the first time but, he felt that he needed to exceed those expectations.

It was when Muntu Valdo spoke of the expectation he felt of being a repeat artiste that I started thinking about our responsibility to our guests from a different point-of-view. Barbados has a very high repeat guests’ factor.

Let me agree with Muntu that meeting customer expectation is an awesome responsibility. Not only are we expected to meet the expectations of our guests, but also, cautiously seek ways of exceeding them.

At the beginning of this week, we experienced a most unfortunate situation of two visitors being attacked here in our country. I am sure that experience neither met nor exceeded their expectations. Frankly, this is the type of guest experience that our entire society must scorn.

I have received countless calls since the news of these guests’ experience broke and I would be less that truthful if I do not admit that I have been devastated by it.

My question today is: Where is this lawlessness in our society coming from?

My challenge to my fellow countrymen is to do something about it. As a tourism dependent economy, episodes like the one we had this week has no place in our country. I feel that a re-examining of how we train and develop our children is necessary. We also have to take stock of the things we as adult accept in our society and be prepared to speak out against wrong wherever it exists.

* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.

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