Annual STB awards honour best in tourism industry

Awards to recognise excellence in customer service

Annual STB awards honour best in tourism industry

Among the award winners last night were Mr Robert Khoo (left), former CEO of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, and Mr Mark Alvarez Lim, assistant manager of Port Belly restaurant. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD

Assistant restaurant manager Mark Alvarez Lim serves up a lot more than just tasty food when diners come into the Port Belly restaurant in Sentosa. 

Mr Lim, 30, also makes it a point to give his customers a thorough once-over, a subtle scan from top to toe to check if they seem happy or anxious, tired or comfortable. 

"If they are perspiring, I will pass them a piece of tissue paper. Or if they look worried, I will ask how I can help. I want to anticipate my customers' needs," said Mr Lim. 

His willingness to go the extra mile paid off handsomely last night when President Tony Tan Keng Yam presented the Filipino with the prize for best customer service at a food and beverage outlet. 

The annual Singapore Experience Awards are organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to recognise excellence in the tourism industry.

Awards in categories such as customer service; events; experience; marketing and media; special recognition; and outstanding contribution were handed out to 32 individuals and organisations. 

STB chief executive Lionel Yeo told the gathering at the Marriott Hotel that he hopes the success stories of the award winners will inspire others in the tourism sector to do well. 

Mr Robert Khoo, former chief executive of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, suggested that standards can be raised by rolling out more courses to upgrade skills among tourism professionals.

Mr Khoo, who received a lifetime achievement award for outstanding contribution to tourism, cited the case of travel agents who go bust and leave their customers stranded. 

The problem might be reduced, he noted, if agents went through business management courses. 

"Some travel agents do not know to how to run a business well. They find it difficult to get customers and then encounter cash-flow problems.

"But this can be solved if they are better trained in business and management skills," said Mr Khoo.

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