The new Gondwana Training Academy will open its doors at the Kalahari Farmhouse in Stampriet in January 2017. The lodge group’s new hospitality training and leadership development programme strives to improve service excellence, promoting Namibia as a top African tourist destination.
Tourism is the fastest growing sector in economy considering the growth in its contribution to the Namibian Gross Domestic Product. “Customer Service remains the most important factor in any business relationship. We believe that all Namibian businesses should unite in their efforts to improve our service delivery for the benefit of all Namibians and visitors,” said Mannfred Goldbeck, managing director of the Gondwana Collection of lodges.
Taking up the challenge to elevate the standard of hospitality countrywide, Gondwana is making a long-term investment in hospitality and skills-development with the launch of their Academy.
Based in Stampriet at the Kalahari Farmhouse, the Academy will provide training for eight months of the year. For the remaining four months it will be open to guests to be hosted by the trainees, giving them the opportunity to apply their training and gain valuable hands-on experience. Goldbeck said they estimate that 420 Gondwana employees can be accommodated at the Academy per year.
Course content will span introductory training in tourism and specific professional skills, as well as critical softer skills such as marketing appreciation, leadership development and communication.
While the Academy is initially aimed at increasing the skills of Gondwana staff, the intention is to also provide training for people aspiring to work in the hospitality industry and to be a source of leadership development for service professionals wanting to further their skills.
Ultimately, Gondwana aims to acquire relevant hospitality accreditation for its courses, providing participants with recognised formal certification.
The Academy was launched to the hospitality sector at an exclusive event last week, hosted by the Gondwana group. It included a captivating talk by Canadian musician and advocate of customer service, Dave Carroll. Carroll achieved instant fame with his social media clip ‘United Breaks Guitars’ following a poor response by United Airlines in the US to explain the damage to his valuable Taylor guitar. He has since become a recognized consumer advocate, speaking on social media, branding, customer service and self-empowerment.
Carroll recently visited Namibia as the guest of Gondwana Collectioni, with performances in Swakopmund and Windhoek, using his songs and lyrics in his presentation to drive home the service excellence message.
Furthermore, Gondwana’s managing director Mannfred Goldbeck took the opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of his staff in providing excellence of service. He presented awards to three staff members, Simon Andreas, Anthea Cloete and Edison Kaura, who have been praised repeatedly by clients, in the social media or through internet portals.
Simon Andreas, lodge manager, Etosha Safari Lodge.
“It was our third visit to Etosha Safari Lodge. We were happy to see that service, food and proficiency of the staff is ever improving. Andreas is the jewel of the lodge. His comment and attention to guests and detail is impeccable. I have not been treated as well at the Waldorf Estoria in NYC.” (TripAdvisor, July 2015) Anthea Cloete, assistant marketing officer, Gondwana Travel Centre in Windhoek.
“Ms. Cloete’s professionalism, unconditional assistance and advice were invaluable. She naturally worked with us on the Gondwana hotel reservations where she provided accurate, timely and objective information. With her drive, enthusiasm and customer commitment, this young woman will make her mark on the industry that she is part of and serves so well. I wish her every success.“ (Email, January 2014)
Edison Kaura, lodge manager, Hakusembe River Lodge.
“Gondwana hospitality – those who have stayed with Gondwana lodges would know exactly what I mean! Very, very friendly reception and wonderful staff. Edison, Yvonne and their team made our 3-day stay an exceptional experience.” (TripAdvisor, July 2014)