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JKH goes for Jumeirah excellence to better serve post-war tourism boom

Sep 15, 2011 4:49:01 PM - www.ft.lk

John Keells Holdings Plc is empowering its leisure group staff with training from the world-renowned Jumeirah Group-linked Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) in Dubai.

The company said yesterday that over 500 leisure sector employees have so far undergone training and exposure on both practical and theoretical aspects of hospitality and service excellence as part of this scheme. 
The initiative entailing an investment of Rs. 40 million was following JKH partnering EAHM.
The Dubai-based five to seven day mentoring and training programs are tailor made for each sector and also encompass hands-on training for employees in top-notch hotel properties in Dubai. 
JKH Deputy Chairman Ajith Gunewardene told the Daily FT that given the positive dynamics of the post-war leisure sector in Sri Lanka into the future, it was important to become world class to be globally competitive.
“We looked at all the best-in-class training providers internationally and chose the Jumeirah facility due to several reasons,” he added.
One was Jumeirah being a world-renowned brand built from scratch and its evolution as well as resultant contribution to the growth and profile of Dubai as a global hub for tourism and leisure. “Dubai is also a good benchmark for world class infrastructure, leisure product and service quality for Sri Lanka,” Gunewardene pointed out.
The Jumeirah Group, under which EAHM operates, is the hotel group behind the most luxurious hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab, as well as a number of other renowned hotel properties in Dubai, London and New York. 
The EAHM is an international training entity, acknowledged for honing skills of employees in some of the biggest hospitality brands, including Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Millennium and Copthorne Middle East Hotels. Established as an institution of higher education, offering degree-level courses, it is the first major academy focusing on tourism and hospitality education at the university level in the Middle East.
JKH leisure group has an employee base of 4,000 and the Deputy Chairman said training at EAHM facility would be a continuous process. “Investing in world class training is critical given JKH leisure group’s expansion, both ongoing and those in the pipeline,” Gunewardene added.
JKH Senior Vice President and Head of HR Leisure Sector Roshan Gurusinghe said the timely and ambitious training drive was part of the Leisure Group’s strategy of being on par with the constantly evolving global hospitality industry, where parameters and benchmark of service and product standards are on a continuous rise. 
“The Group’s aim is to have a trained team of professionals who are geared to take on the opportunities and challenges that are opening up in the hospitality landscape, especially given the rapid expansion envisaged within the JKH Leisure Sector,” Gurusinghe added.
“The success of the hospitality industry lies solely in the levels of products and services espoused. This comes through constant exposure and training,” Gurusinghe said, reiterating that this was the main reason for this initiative. 
He affirms that this partnership and the international training inculcated through the academy would go a long way in forming an integral truss to the leisure sector’s ambition of being “the hospitality trendsetter”.
Offering a gamut of learning experiences, the training programmes cover Food & Beverage, Culinary (targeting chefs), Housekeeping, Front Office, Engineering and Human Resources as well as more strategic and market-oriented training for the Group’s Destination Management Teams, Sales and Marketing Groups and General Managers.
“We are keen to have and grow a talent pool – be it the top performers, middle management or general managers. Our aim is to cover all segments through a consistent and ongoing training process,” Gurusinghe said. Towards this end, a further Rs. 50 million will be channelled for training and development by the end of this year. 
Gurusinghe said that the leisure group had striven to ensure that staff was developed in a knowledge-driven culture, which will be further backed by investment in product and software. A dynamic combination, which he believes will help make the leisure group’s ambition of being “a preferred brand on par with other world class brands” a reality.
“We remain conscious of the fact that we are looking at a global traveller who is exposed to world class service standards. We strongly believe in the ethos of service beyond expectations. The service excellence we envisage and strive towards can only be obtained with continuous and consistent training of this nature,” he added.
Future initiatives include specific job-oriented personal development programmes for key positions as well as supervisors in the Group’s hospitality sector.

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