The Power of Service: Homemade Happiness “building happiness with work” was the topic of the 3rd Caribbean Hospitality Summit, which brought together 110 participants from hospitality schools in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Venezuela and Costa Rica, in the city of San José, from 20 to 24 June. As part of the activities, on 21 June the “Homemade Happiness: Building Happiness with Work” Congress took place.
Human development specialist Tatiana Quiroz was in charge of the main conference, which took place in the Wyndham Garden Hotel San José Escazú. One of the participants from the Dominican Republic summarized the conference saying, “far from emphasizing that happiness doesn’t come from having things or feeling good, she hit the nail on the head with the topic: to be happy you have to serve, you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you have to make the other person happy, and then you’ll be happy”.
Along the same line, several hospitality schools from Nicaragua, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica presented their essays. For example, Noelia Castro, from the Academy of Alta Cocina Guaitil made sure that “the service we provide our customers makes them happy because they can notice our affection in material details, for instance in the presentation, flavour, order and cleaning”. Other projects, like the essay Portable Home from the Instituto Superior Tagua (Panama), highlighted the role of creativity in achieving a welcoming experience.
In the afternoon, with the expert panels, participants had the opportunity to go deeper in the topic with different experiences in the hospitality and gastronomy industry.
For hospitality consultor Alfredo Echevarría, there is a series of aspects to consider in order to achieve excellent service: proactiveness to anticipate the client’s needs, initiative, creativity.
Wyndham Garden Hotel San José Escazú’s Sales and Marketing director, Federico Víquez, talked about “Motivation in Work Teams” and explained how acts of empathy and interest for others are key for good relationships in work teams and have repercussions in good customer service.
For her part, Sommelier Laura Moro emphasized that work which implies taking care of the customer is also the source of happiness for the person who does it, even though at times it can be tiring: “What person who works in the service sector doesn’t feel happy seeing a satisfied customer?”, she commented.
French chef Jacques Nicaese and Costa Rican chef Ana Domínguez both agreed that commitment, attitude, dedication and effort are necessary to work in a restaurant and illustrated this message with examples from their vast experience in gastronomy.
On 22 June the 3rd Caribbean Hospitality Summit offered workshops on “Personality, Image and Service Culture” at La Pradera Professional Institute, in Coronado, given by pedagogues and other outstanding experts such as Gabriela Aybar, Margarita Acuña, Ana Mercedes Gallegos and Alejandra Flores. That same day there were various complementary activities aimed at enriching the participants’ experience: a typical Costa Rican buffet; a presentation by a folkloric dance group; a visit to Apotecaria, a natural-organic restaurant located in the Escalante Neighbourhood —one of the most important gastronomical districts in San José. Finally, towards 6pm, they were able to do the San José Walking Tour, a historic-cultural tour of downtown.
Coffee growing, its production and commercialization process, as well as tips for a good cup of coffee were at the heart of the morning activity of 23 June, with a visit to Espíritu Santo Coffee Tour in Naranjo, Alajuela.
The closing of the Summit took place in the evening of 23 June at the Academy of Alta Cocina Guaitil, in Sabanilla de Montes de Oca. The highlight of the evening was a cultural-gastronomical activity which had as its centre the “Innovation?” conference, given by Marianela Cortés Muñoz, Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Food Technology, who emphasized the importance of research and study in order to be creative in the food industry.
The Caribbean Hospitality Summit is the regional phase of the Incontro Romano Congresses, organized by Associazione Centro ELIS. Incontro Romano is an international student forum which aims to promote service culture and a home environment in hospitality businesses. “We believe that a professional and ethical qualification is the basis for creating a more human environment in society and particularly in the tourism industry”, stressed Milagro Masís, the Event Coordinator.
by Alejandra Flores