Triumph over adversity through persistence and diversity is the message the Boll Weevil Monument represents, and it mirrors the story of the hospitality industry in the post-pandemic world, Enterprise Director of Tourism and Community Relations Tammy Doerer told graduates of the “Flawless Delivery Hospitality Certification” Wednesday afternoon.
The graduation was the culmination of a two-day seminar held here for local hospitality industry personnel by the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association through a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department. The program is in partnership with the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, the Holistic Performance Group and Experience Consulting.
Graduates of the course are Kala Bess, Geneva Taylor and Rose McNeal from the Best Western; Brent Golden, Brandy Caldwell, Michelle Searcy, Crystal Tillis and Misty Scarver from the Fairfield Inn; Jennie Hartcastle from the Days Inn; Nicole Clark, Octavia Bourne and Veronica Neal Jones from the Hampton Inn; and Thomasena Jones from the Holiday Inn Express.
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The training included effective communication, conflict management and maintaining a positive attitude through challenges, said Dr. Ryan Cate Gibson, from the Decatur-based HPG.
“Each person is a massively important part of the team,” Gibson said. “No team can make it unless each individual believes that truly flawless service is a team mentality, and each individual has a desire to really serve.”
Topics included the basics of customer service, a 21st century culture of care, and service centered communications.
“We talked about exceptional customer service—what is it and how to provide it,” Gibson said. Also discussed was how to handle hurdles and dissatisfied customers. “The purpose of the course is to give you tools for dealing with stress and give you the motivation and confidence to make every guest’s encounter a positive one.
During the training, the group was treated to a four-course meal at the Rawls Restaurant downtown and they gathered for a photo at the city’s renowned Boll Weevil Monument which is located n the middle of Main Street downtown.
“The Boll Weevil Monument is more than just a monument that sits in the middle of Enterprise,” Doerer said at the graduation ceremony conducted by Gibson and Enterprise State Community College President Danny Long. “It’s message is one of triumph over adversity after the Boll Weevil traveled from Mexico, through Texas, devastating cotton crops along the way 100 years ago.”
The plight of the farmers 100 years ago is mirrored in the plight of the hospitality industry as COVID 19 traveled nationwide mandating business shutdowns and social distancing. In the post-Pandemic world, the hospitality industry will survive because of the resilience of its personnel, Doerer said. “You are the first face people see when they are traveling through our great city.”
The monument was not erected to worship a bug, Doerer said, adding that the insect was not part of the original monument erected in 1919. “Its purpose is to remind our citizens that if you accept change and diversify what you do and you believe in each other and work together you can triumph over any adversity,” she said.
“During the training, we stressed practical application of skills. You can have all the theories there are but if you don’t know how to apply them in real-life situations, it won’t do you any good,” Gibson said. “What we help people walk away from this course with is how to bring their very best self to the hospitality industry.”