Whether breakfast or open buffets, self-service or elegant Russian service, telephone manners or choosing the right amenities, ANERA’s hospitality training program in the West Bank provided the answers.
The 72 hours of training were conducted over a period of two months through the Arab Hotel Association to member hotels’ staff in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Ramallah. Wait staff, housekeepers, receptionists and bellhops attended.
“The selection of topics was based on a survey the Association had conducted earlier. We requested a small registration fee to be divided between the hotel and participants, just to make sure that both the hotels and participants were committed to the training. There were more than 40 participants and they were all expected to attend seven out of eight sessions to qualify for a certificate,” explained Executive Director Samah Qumsieh Awad of the Arab Hotel Association.
The director of the Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism at Bethlehem University, Nabil Mufdi, delivered the training. “We realize our weaknesses in this field, and we need development in every single aspect. This training helps develop hospitality in hotels, but training devoid of application is meaningless and inefficient.”
“Tourism is generally active throughout the cities here,” said Mufdi. “And the type of tourism varies from one city to another, depending on what the city has to offer, whether it is business-oriented or it contains holy sites. Nevertheless, the hospitality theory remains the same: making the guest’s experience memorable.”
Natheera Qashab, one of the participants from Jerusalem, has been in the housekeeping business for 16 years and is currently the head of housekeeping at the Jerusalem Hotel. “This training has taught us how to deal with the guests from as early as booking a room over the phone all the way to when they check out. Hotel workers need such training because they are usually unaware of the principles or importance of guest courtesy,” explained Qashab from her personal experience working at hotels.
Qashab elaborated: “I think that in the hotel where I work, the staff – including the managers – all need to take such courses and implement them.”
Grace Ammar is a younger participant who shares Qashab’s ideas. She is a 20-year-old who is studying business administration and accounting at an academy in West Jerusalem. She has been working at the Golden Walls in East Jerusalem as a receptionist for three months.
“I had no experience at all before working at the hotel, and for a person completely new to it, it’s quite a challenge. I applied there to give that type of work a try, and I ended up liking it and started looking at it as a potential career for me.”
When asked about the training, she said, “This training has taught me a lot about reception work as well as various topics including types of food, drinks and presentation. The pictures in the slideshow and videos really help us understand better.” Ammar is now considering studying Hotel Management at Bethlehem University.
“Someone said to me once that the best investment is in people. It’s true, because if the people are benefiting, the whole industry benefits,” stated Mufdi.