Travel firm launches talent programme

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 October, 2009, 12:00am

Wing On Travel Service has initiated a talent development programme aimed at enhancing the professionalism of its tour consultants.

The specialised tour consultant development programme is a three-pronged strategy and, ultimately, it will be the customer who benefits thanks to the professionalism of the tour consultants, according to Yau Tik-wai, assistant general manager for human resources and administration at Wing On Travel.

As part of a brand-building exercise, the company also uses the programme to differentiate its services by combining well-designed tours with specialised tour consultants noted for their high-level of professionalism, internationally recognised expertise and in-depth knowledge of the local cultures and special attributes of each destination.

Out of 300 full-time tour guides, Wing On Travel has selected seven to be the first batch of specialised tour consultants. They are either veteran tour guides, with more than 20 years of experience, or younger high-flyers who are university graduates.

'The selection criteria include outstanding performance and positive feedback on their services from customers,' Yau said. These consultants lead tours to long-haul destinations, including Europe and South Africa, and accompany customers on cruises. 'We have formulated this programme in alignment with our strategy of promoting long-haul tours.'

The programme helps diversify the skills of the specialised consultants, who are heavily involved in designing the tours. Their in-depth knowledge of local cultures, expertise and personal interests were integrated as components of the tours to enrich the experience of customers, Yau said. For instance, the specialised European tour consultants keep themselves abreast of the latest fashion trends and are able to provide updated shopping tips for fashion enthusiasts.

Wing On Travel seeks to enhance communication between consultants and tour group members. To let customers know more about the consultants, the company has launched a website featuring their personal blogs in which they share their interests, specialised knowledge and insights into cultures and etiquette while providing tips about a diverse range of activities.

'It helps the consultants and customers to build better mutual understanding,' Yau said. 'The heavy involvement of the specialised tour consultants helps to inspire more confidence among customers.'

One of the selected tour consultants, Yuki Lau Hiu-tung, specialises in cruises offered by ocean liner operators, including Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises. In recent years, she has received intensive training in product knowledge of cruises. She has joined cruises to some long-haul destinations and attended courses for cruise consultants offered by operators.

Lau has taken the tests by Royal Caribbean and Costa and is qualified as an ocean liner cruise professional. She has incorporated her favourite sites into sightseeing tours when the cruise ship Costa Pacifica makes calls on ports in European cities. Because of her in-depth knowledge, she offers tour groups an unforgettable experience by taking them to sites off the beaten track.

Flying high

Talent development initiative launched to enhance staff's professionalism

Seven out of 300 full-time tour consultants have been selected to receive additional nurturing through the programme

Specialised tour consultants diversify their skills as they have provided input to the design of tours to provide customers with a special experience

Enhanced mutual understanding between consultants and customers helps improve service quality

The programme initially focuses on consultants for long-haul tours