Nurturing our most important natural resource – people
Many of the positive comments we receive about Chaa Creek have to do with the courtesy, professionalism and genuine friendliness of our staff, a number of whom have been with us for over ten years. It’s no cliché to say that we feel like one big family, and we all take pride in looking after each other as well as the business that supports us and our individual families.
Since early days management has been committed to advancing the skills and creating opportunities for our staff members, and this commitment has been shown to be a two way street with employees showing a high degree of loyalty and dedication to Chaa Creek. This is a recipe for success we’d like to share with other organisations.
Chaa Creek fully sponsors and pays staff members from all departments to take advantage of every relevant training opportunity offered by the Belize Tourism Board and other institutions and organisations within Belize.
We also conduct in-house staff training within each department on a regular basis and utilise the services of experts, such as hospitality training consultants, to conduct specialised workshops.
One Chaa Creek skills development initiative is the Staff Exchange Program, which allows staff members to exchange places for a short time with their counterparts within other tourism businesses in Belize. This program has proven to be highly successful in expanding our staff’s experience and understanding of the industry, as well as strengthening ties within Belize’s tourism and hospitality network. Enhanced interaction and familiarity between resorts, tour operators and other players in the industry has clear benefits for both staff and for visitors to Belize.
On another front, we are careful that the various academic, scientific and conservation projects undertaken by institutions such as Columbia University and the New York Botanical Gardens at Chaa Creek’s 365 acre private nature reserve translate into providing opportunities for staff. For example, naturalist guides and staff at the Natural History Centre get to participate in advanced scientific field research, and this has been invaluable in furthering the individual and collective knowledge of our guides and related staff.
Our guides also hone their skills and further ensure the safety of guests with two weeks of intensive Cave and Wilderness Rescue training sponsored by the Belize Disaster and Rescue Team and taught by instructors from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Chaa Creek has gained worldwide recognition as a model for sustainable tourism and responsible travel, and this is another area in which staff members are encouraged to expand their horizons and contribute to our planning and operations. For example, many staff members in several departments have received training in best management practices conducted by trainers from Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Tourism Certification Project.
Members of our maintenance staff have also attended specialised training courses in energy management and related fields, and they share this knowledge with their co-workers.
With the safety of our guests and staff always foremost in mind we conduct annual First Aid training for staff members of all departments. Our Loss Prevention Manager and our Security Supervisor maintain their skills to a high level by attending Special Constable Training courses sponsored by the Belize Police Department.
International training partnerships also provide our staff with opportunities to receive advanced training that is not available in Belize. We have found a valuable partner in the U.S. National Park Service, which each year provides our naturalist guides the opportunity to travel to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado for two weeks of Visitor Interpretation training.
Canada is another training destination, with staff from our carpentry shop staff taking up an advanced 6 month internship with Mr Ted Moores, a master wood craftsman with Bear Mountain Boat Company.
This year our Marketing Administrator attended a one week SEO & Internet Marketing Seminar in San Antonio Texas, and further afield, our Guest Services Manager earlier attended a one year hospitality management program in Austria.
We consider a strong focus on training as a solid investment. Over the years we have watched the calibre of Chaa Creek’s services grow along with the level of skill and job satisfaction of our staff, and there is no doubt that our guests benefit from skilled-up, contented employees who enjoy their work and see opportunities to further themselves. Many of our supervisory and management positions have been filled in-house by staff moving up the ladder here at Chaa Creek or in other resorts throughout Belize. Many former employees have even branched out to become tourism entrepreneurs in their own right, and this is something we support and encourage.
With a focus on valuing and providing opportunities for people, Belizean business are nurturing our country’s greatest natural resource and ensuring the continued success of our most important industry. And that’s a recipe for success we are happy to share.
Tags: Belize Disaster and Rescue Team, belize tourism board, Belizean business, chaa creek, Columbia University, intensive Cave and Wilderness Rescue, Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, New York Botanical Gardens, Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Tourism Certification Project., Staff Exchange Program, tourism businesses in Belize, U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency