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02 February 2010

New Award for Excellent Service in Tourism

Stillorgan Park Hotel awarded Optimus Service Excellence Award

optimus_award_1.jpgThe Irish hotel sector is to set itself against some of the best hotels in the world, in a “relentless” upgrading of standards under the new Optimus programme. For global travellers, hotels displaying the Optimus symbol will offer an assurance that superior service and value for money expectations can be met. For individual hotels, like the Stillorgan Park Hotel, achieving the new standard will have significant marketing and profit advantages.

Optimus was developed by Fáilte Ireland as a multi-tiered programme to support tourism businesses in becoming more efficient and more competitive. The industry is challenged by rising costs and consumers are comparing what Ireland can offer with increasing international alternatives. For many in the industry, Optimus is welcomed as a lever to regain competitive ground.

It offers a framework, based on proven international approaches, for businesses to deliver world class standards and enhance value. They can progress through three levels of improvement, from the entry level Service Excellence Awards to the Mark of Best Practice for key business operations and finally to the Award of Excellence for exceptional performance as a business entity. Progress is independently assessed by The Centre for Competitiveness N.I. and awards are approved by a body of national and international professionals, chaired by Mr Klaus Kobjoll, proprietor of the world renowned Hotel Schindlerhof in Nuremberg and winner of the European Quality Award.

A number of Irish hotels have already been marked out as hotels that can compete with the best in the world. In Dublin, the Stillorgan Park Hotel is among the minority of hotels in Ireland to achieve the Optimus Service Excellence Award. “The hotel has been rigorously tested and judged to exceed the expectations of its guests and to make the best use of its resources,” said Tony Lenehan, Head of Industry Standards and Quality, Fáilte Ireland. “Increasingly consumers will choose Irish hotels that have the Optimus standard and that must be good news for hotels like this.”

The hotel achieved the Optimus award following a deep-rooted review of service and guest satisfaction. “It’s probably one of the most rewarding journeys a business can make,” says Daragh O’Neill, General Manager of the Stillorgan Park Hotel. “For nearly a year we questioned everything we did and tested it against what is known to be excellent service in other countries, quite systematically and always with the customer as the starting point. Standard of Procedures were put in place for all sectors of the business and constant training and re-training of our team has been implemented to accurately measure how we were performing against the best in the field. The effect on guests and staff has been considerable and the Optimus award will flag this achievement to the market.”

“We plan to progress to the next level of Optimus and achieve the Mark of Best Practice, and ultimately our aim is to achieve the Award of Excellence.” This is the greatest accolade for a business in tourism – the mark of an outstanding performer. It will be particularly challenging as it demands superior performance across every facet of the hotel. Not only a passionate customer focus but also innovation based on rigorous benchmarking and a strong results orientation.

Above all, we will have to demonstrate a deep commitment to continual improvement.” Years of international research have shaped the programme, which drew on studies of the most successful hotels in the world. These studies have provided benchmarks for businesses to measure their practices against the industry best. At the heart of Optimus is the customer - and an ongoing tracking system which measures customer satisfaction and identifies areas of improvement. A similar system monitors the commitment of employees to the company’s goals and identifies ways in which to increase morale.