2016 - 02 February

Guest Service Gold

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau Certifies 300th Certified Guest Service Professional

Lee County Blue The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau ( VCB) has reached the milestone of certifying its 300 th Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) as a part of the goal to become the nation's first Certified Guest Service Destination. A group of 28 CGSP graduates brought the total to 301.  

Following the partnership with the VCB and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) in October 2012, The VCB held its first exam in May 2013. The partnership allowed the inclusion of Guest Service Gold® and the CGSP® as part of the VCB's multifaceted Guests First Customer Service Training Program.  

"These 300 graduates have set an example of excellence for the entire destination," said Tamara Pigott, VCB executive director. "The Lee County VCB and its partners strive to make every guest's visit memorable, which drives repeat visitation growth."  

To earn the certification, hospitality employees must complete Guests First, the VCB's award-winning, seven-module customer service program.  

"It certainly requires a commitment from the participant to attend classes in between their busy schedules," said Christine Davlin, VCB training and development manager, who oversees and facilitates the program. Davlin is excited about a partnership that allows the VCB to offer a certification recognized worldwide and allows hotel properties that certify frontline staff to earn the Certified Guest Service Property designation.         

"I am proud of the program's success, this partnership and our dedicated participants," said Davlin.  "Our destination strives to have a positive lasting memory on visitors. We can't achieve that without dedicated professionals who understand the importance of tourism and its impact on our community."

Professor Recommends Guest Service Gold® for Healthcare in New Book

Fred Demicco Hospitality and hospital both take their root from the word for "guest" and guest service should be a major component of both hospitality and hospital/healthcare operations. That's why Fred J. DeMicco, Ph.D., RD, CGSP, Aramark Chaired Professor at the University of Delaware Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management has included a chapter on guest service-specifically, AHLEI's Guest Service Gold® training program-in his new book on medical tourism. 

"People have choices about which hospital to go to in the marketplace," said DeMicco. "Also, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reimbursements are tied to patient ratings, which means that medical facilities must pay increasing attention to customer service." 

DeMicco is the author of Medical Tourism: Hospitality Bridging Healthcare (H2H) and Wellness, scheduled for publication by Apple Academic Press later this year. The book provides an overview of healthcare and hospitality and how the two have intertwined. It explores examples of healthcare facilities that are successfully integrating and bridging hospitality and healthcare. Finally, the book presents case studies and best practices that show the possibilities for hospitality bridging healthcare, as well as information on designing and planning healthcare operations with hospitality in mind. 

"In medical tourism, hotels are working with hospitals to provide an integrated guest/patient experience," DeMicco explained. "As part of that, many hospitals are embracing the concept of guest service."  On the flip side, hotels that are associated with healthcare campuses need to become more aware of the special issues and needs that their guests may be facing as either medical patients or family members with a loved one in the hospital. 

To highlight the traits and skills needed to provide this level of care, DeMicco devotes an entire chapter to the training program developed by AHLEI. "Bringing Hotel Hospitality Service Skills to Healthcare:  The Guest Service GOLD® Training Program from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute" explains the seven guest service attributes Guest Service Gold® teaches and explains how they can become part of a healthcare operations' service standards. 

"The Guest Service Gold® model provides a fast way to introduce and implement a comprehensive guest services educational program that is relevant to any service business - where the guest experience and satisfaction should be front of mind to build loyalty," said DeMicco. "I found it to be a tremendous resource for the healthcare experience," 

Guest service isn't the only thing that healthcare can pull from the world of hospitality. Hospitality management school graduates have the potential to become the next generation of healthcare managers and executives, according to DeMicco. 

"Our students in hospitality management programs want to be general managers of hotels and resorts,  but so much of a medical facility is related to hospitality services-food and beverage, housekeeping, rooms," he said.  "Graduates from hospitality and health professional programs that join this segment of the hospitality industry, can look forward to solid growth for the future, stable work hours, good pay and benefits (particularly medical insurance), often times day care for employee children,  career growth, and making a difference serving people in need. This is clearly a field for hospitality graduates that provides challenge and future growth opportunities well into the future."

Financial Issues Impacting the Lodging Industry

EMV + PCI = NIS … New and Improved Security

Agnes DeFranco

The Financial Management Committee (FMC) of the American Hotel & Lodging Association was established to provide superior financial management expertise on issues of common interest to owners and operators of hotels and motels. In an effort to assist hotel owners and operators, the FMC is presenting a series of monthly articles that address current and emerging financial issues impacting the lodging industry. Some of the potential topics to be discussed include the standardization of industry definitions for distribution channels and associated costs, benchmarking green and sustainable practices, cyber security, loyalty program accounting, and the impact of labor-related legislation. 

This month, Agnes DeFranco discusses measures for New and Improved Security for card transactions. 


In January, an article on EMV by Dennis DuBois was featured. Mr. DuBois correctly advised merchants not only to embrace the Chip and Pin process but also to consider and include tokenization and point-to-point encryption. That is sage advice.  

However, others begin to ask this question, "If EMV is now the new rule of the land, and if we are also to include better practices such as tokenization and point-to-point encryption, do we still need to worry about PCI?"  A few years ago, PCI (Payment Card Industry), PCI compliance, and SAQs (Self-Assessment Questionnaire) for PCI were all the hot topics for merchants, especially for financial professionals in our hotel industry.  So, with the EMV technology, is PCI still needed?  Well, the old adage of "two heads are better than one" is so true. EMV does not replace PCI.  In fact, EMV and PCI are the perfect partners, and together, they are the NIS or New Improved Security that can benefit not only our guests, but also hotels as merchants.  

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), set forth by the PCI Security Standards Council, aim to ensure healthy and trustworthy payment card transactions globally. In today's world where cybercrime is very difficult to detect, vigilant prevention is the key. Just in the last few months since November 2015, news such as malware was found to have affected 54 Starwood properties, another malware was reported to have affected over 300 Hyatt-managed locations, and even Mr. Trump's properties were not spared.   

PCI DSS, in its current Version 3.1, released April 2015, is a set of standards which applies to security control systems and procedures to protect the cardholder's confidential information on branded payment cards including American Express, Discover, MasterCard, JCB, and Visa. The standards can be summarized into six major goals and further identified in 12 PCI DSS requirements:  

Build and Maintain a Secure Network
  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
Protect Cardholder Data
  1. Protect stored cardholder data
  2. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
  1.  Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
  2. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
Implement Strong Access Control Measures
  1. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
  2. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
  3. Restrict physical access to cardholder data
Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
  1. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  2. Regularly test security systems and processes
Maintain an Information Security Policy
  1. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for employees and contractors


Source: https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/pci_security/maintaining_payment_security  

The detailed requirements and security assessment procedures completed with tables and flowcharts can be found at the PCI Security Standards Council at  https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/documents/PCI_DSS_v3-1.pdf  

At first glance, all these goals and requirements seem very intuitive, and they are. For example, a hotel will of course protect stored cardholder data. However, it is how the data are protected that needs to be reviewed and verified. Having all the card numbers in a binder "locked" in a file drawer which many employees have a key to access is hardly considered protective storage. Merchants may assign a unique ID to each person with computer access, but if employees are sharing such IDs and passwords, again, the purpose of data security is again compromised. Therefore, while the PCI DSS requirements are intuitive, the proper assessment, execution, and verification of such requirement is the key. Why is this important?  A single security breach is always on a very large scale. It is not only the fraud loss the hotel has to bear but also a loss of public confidence, not to mention and potential revenue loss, legal costs related to settlements and judgments, fines and penalties among others.  

By using EMV and adhering to proper PCI DSS, merchants are closing the gaps of vulnerability. While PCI DSS applies to all forms of payments (online, phone, swipe, or through chip and pin) and the entire transaction process, EMV is about the authentication of the cardholder's identity at the point of sale where the card is physically presented for payment.  The chip helps to ensure the card being used is not a forgery and that it belongs to the proper cardholder. Unlike the magnetic swipe technology, EMV reduces the probability of the merchants accepting lost, stolen, or counterfeit cards. Once a card is authenticated with EMV, the confidential cardholder information is now entered into the merchant's system, and this is where PCI comes in to ensure everything mentioned in the table above is observed.   

The PCI Council site provides many useful tips on their website ( www.pcisecuritystandards.org ). Many merchants also shared a number of common sense tips. Merchants can spend sizable amounts on "systems" and that is important. However, if the individuals, our associates, team members, and employees are not following the proper procedures, any system is as good as the users make it to be.  Below is a short list for your consideration. These suggestions are very simple; but oftentimes, we assume these are in place but in reality, they are not: 

  1. Train employees on security and protecting cardholders' data - not just once, but periodic training and updates are good measures
  2. Stress the importance of strong passwords; change them periodically; never share passwords; and never write down passwords on notes and pieces of paper that are accessible to others
  3. Always change default or system passwords
  4. Always check to make sure the anti-virus software is current on ALL computers
  5. Never use computers with PMS emulators to access the Internet  

PCI is here to stay. EMV is here to stay. And so are cyber attacks. We as merchants have the obligation to see that our guests and our businesses are protected. If we think the cost of complying with PCI and EMV is high, think again. The cost of non-compliance is substantially higher. With PCI and EMV, we now have NIS = new and improved security! And, the industry will keep on finding ways to continue to protect our guests and our businesses.  

Useful links:  

Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals PCI Compliance 


PCI Security Standards Council Resources 


Five Ways to Reduce SAQ Scope by Gary Glover 


Agnes L. DeFranco is a Professor and the Conrad N. Hilton Distinguished Chair at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, University of Houston.  She served as President of the Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals (HFTP)  in 2006-2007 and currently chairs the committee for HFTP to develop the Global Hospitality Accounting Common Practices, an online, searchable database of detailed operating financial practices.  

High School Spotlight

Simon Sanchez High School Students First in Guam to Earn CHTMP Designation

Guam Students Jhanine Batac and Juliana Taitano, students at Simon Sanchez High School are the first in Guam to earn the designation of Certified Hospitality and Tourism Management Professional (CHTMP).  This certification is awarded by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) to high school students who pass the Year 1 and 2 exams for the Hospitality Tourism and Management Program (HTMP) curriculum and also complete 100 hours of internship or work experience at a hospitality operation. 

Both students actually completed 270 work hours.  Batac worked 180 hours at the Westin Resort Guam in the catering department and as a wait person at the Taste restaurant, and completed another 90 hours at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa in the banquet department.  Taitano completed 180 hours at the Westin Resort Guam in the front office and in catering and sales, and 90 hours in the human resource office at the Pacific Islands Club. 

Eric Chong, who teaches the HTMP class, stated, "Tourism is Guam's number one industry.  Our HTMP students have numerous opportunities to learn different hands-on skills in the hospitality industry because the hotels are our partners in education."  

He noted that In addition to earning the CHTMP designation, the girls will also take the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) exam in March, and will earn the Guam Community College's Certificate of Mastery in Tourism and also the National Career Readiness Certificate. 

Both students plan to continue their studies in college and pursue careers in hospitality. 

"The one thing I like best about hospitality as a career field is that it is diverse-for both guests and associates," said Batac, who plans to attend college and work part-time in hospitality after her May 2016 graduation.  "Hospitality is filled with so many jobs I can choose from. My goal is to use the skills I have learned to help me succeed in my career." 

Taitano plans to attend college and work in hospitality with the help of the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program. 

"I love the hospitality industry because it offers so many jobs and opportunities to move around and to excel," she said. "I love planning and my goal of to be a catering and banquet manager." 

"I am thrilled that Jhanine and Juliana are the first students in Guam to earn this wonderful certification," said Chong. "The CHTMP achievement proves these students' commitment to the hospitality industry.  My hope is that other students will aspire to work hard and earn this recognition." 

The students shared their advice to other young people. 

"I encourage them to pursue hospitality and tourism-it has so much to offer everyone," said Batac.  Taitano added, "Don't be afraid to try new things.  Open yourself up. Always have a strong and positive attitude." 

As part of February's CTE Month observance, the girls were honored at a ceremony that included several dignitaries, including Norman Aguilar, Department Chair for Guam Community College Tourism; Senator Tina Muna-Barnes, Oversight Chairperson for Tourism, 33rd Guam Legislature;  Jon Fernandez, Guam  Department of Education Superintendent; Gary Hartz, Associate Dean of Guam Community College; and Chef Paul Kerner, Guam Community College (pictured with Jhanine Batac and Juliana Taitano).

International Spotlight

New AHLEI Partner in Cyprus Promotes Hospitality Certifications

Cyprus Partner Polykarpou hrd , based in Cyprus, specializes in training, human resources management, and industrial relations. As one of AHLEI's newest global partners , the company has established the Cyprus Hospitality Educational Institute (CHEI) as a dedicated brand focusing on hospitality industry training and certification using AHLEI's internationally-recognized programs. 

Polykarpou hrd and the Cyprus Hospitality Educational Institute were founded by Polys Polykarpou, a certified labor consultant with a career in industrial relations. He specializes in human resources management, organizational development, and training. He founded his company in 2012 to provide quality vocational training. With a background in the hospitality industry, Polykarpou earned AHLEI's Human Resources Management Certificate of Specialization and began to use AHLEI principles as part of his training style. Then he decided to take an even bigger step. 

"Aiming even higher, we claimed a partnership with AHLEI, the most recognized institution in the field of certification of hospitality professionals," he stated. "For this purpose, we have established the CHEI (Cyprus Hospitality Educational Institute)." 

The CHEI is coordinated by Diana Assadourian Estephan, CHT, an AHLEI certified trainer and proctor. She and Polykarpou lead a team of more than 16 professionals who provide all kinds of professional training with an emphasis on hospitality. 

CHEI offers training that leads to the following AHLEI certifications : Certified Hospitality Supervisor, Certified Spa Supervisor, Certified Guest Service Professional, Certified Guestroom Attendant, Certified Front Desk Representative, Certified Restaurant Server, and Certified Kitchen Cook. Clients can also enroll in the following academic courses: Management of Food & Beverage Operations, Managing Front Office Operations, and Managing Housekeeping Operations. 

Polykarpou explained the tourism is a major source of income in Cyprus, despite the country's political and economic challenges. He noted that starting in the late 1970s and after a booming in early 1980s, a lot of people joined the industry having no idea about it. 

"Today, a big number of professionals are educated but an even bigger number are working only with basic knowledge. New generation managers are investing in staff training and developing with more confidence than before, but training organizations are not investing in training programs for professionals, or developing their techniques and methods," he explained. 

Polykarpou believes that there is a real need for the programs that CHEI offers. 

"A clearly professional training organization specializing in hospitality, recognizing the experience and providing certification on the topics, is what our industry needs," he said. "Through our partnership with AHLEI, we believe we have the best of global certification providers to work with. It is in our hands to take this opportunity, and transform it to an opportunity of success."

Christ University Hosts First CHIA Workshop in India

India CHIA Workshop More than 30 participants representing area hotels and colleges attended the first workshop for the Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics ( CHIA) in India on February 3.  The workshop was hosted by the Christ University Department of Hotel Management in Bangalore and STR , which developed the CHIA certification in conjunction with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and I-CHRIE.  

The Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics is the only hotel-related certification for industry professionals and hospitality management students focused on analytics. It provides recognition that the holder has a thorough knowledge of the foundational metrics, definitions, formulas, and methodologies used by the hotel industry. Core content areas for the CHIA include: 

  • Hotel Industry Analytical Foundations
  • Hotel Math Fundamentals
  • Property Level Benchmarking (STAR Reports)
  • Hotel Industry Performance Reports  

Steve Hood, senior vice president of research for STR, presented the workshop in Bangalore. He has conducted CHIA training sessions around the globe for both academic and industry groups. 

Participants in the workshop included representatives from AccorHotels Group;
The Oberoi, Bangalore; MangoMist Resort; Bangalore Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts; St. Mark's Hotel; Lemon Tree Hotels;.Zuri Hotels & Resorts; Christ University, Food Consulate, The Residency Towers, Chennai; The Residency Towers, Coimbatore; Royal Orchid Hotels; The Leela Palace Kempinski; ITC Hotels; and Army Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology. 

Dennie Matthews, chief managing officer for AHLEI India, stated that additional CHIA workshops will be held in India throughout the year.

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