Over 400 tourism industry insiders gathered last night at the Algonquin College School of Hospitality & Tourism to celebrate the achievements of front-line staff during the 16th annual Ottawa Tourism Stars of the City Recognition Evening.
A total of 1,052 nominations were received from residents and visitors to the region over the past year, nominating front-line staff from 89 businesses for their real-life examples of excellence in customer service. Everyone who is nominated as a Star of the City received a gold “star” lapel pin, a symbol of customer service excellence here in Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region.
An independent panel of judges comprised of industry leaders decided among 22 finalists to award the ultimate “Star of the City 2011” as well as winners in the following 8 categories.
OTTAWA TOURISM’S 2011 STAR OF THE CITY
Grand Prize Sponsored by the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association
Paul Norris – Lord Elgin Hotel
Paul Norris of the Lord Elgin Hotel, Ottawa Tourism's 2011 Star of the City! CREDIT: Teckles Photography
Paul Norris’s story: On a cold February night, a local restaurant was hosting a student group for dinner. When it came time for them to move on for skating on the Rideau Canal, the tour guide and teachers left a student behind. After spending time trying to reach the tour company, the student let the restaurant staff know that the group was staying at the Lord Elgin Hotel. When Paul was contacted at the hotel, he offered to go to the Canal and find the group. In spite of the cold weather, snowy conditions, hundreds of tourists and darkness of night, Paul found the group and called the restaurant to inform them of their location. The student was quickly reunited with his group.
WHAT’S LOST IS FOUND Sponsored by: Rideau Centre
Paul Norris – Lord Elgin Hotel
ABOVE & BEYOND Sponsored by: Algonquin College, School of Hospitality & Tourism
Christopher Ward – Lord Elgin Hotel
After a canoe trip on the Ottawa River took an unexpected turn with the guests spending 20 minutes in the water before being rescued by one of the other canoes, the guests returned to the Lord Elgin Hotel. Christopher organized to have their wet clothes washed and dried and contacted the Australian Foreign Affairs department in Australia to find out how the guest could replace their damaged passports. He arranged for the memory card from the cameras to be copied to a DVD as the camera was beyond repair. The next day, Christopher came to the Lord Elgin on his own time to take the guests on a walking tour of Ottawa to show them sights they had missed on their tour.
STARS WITH HEART Sponsored by: Carleton University Conference Services
Kristine Thomas – Minto Hospitality Group
Kristine made a guest’s family Christmas very memorable. A long-stay guest at the Minto Furnished Suites was unable to accommodate her 12 family members in her one-bedroom suite for dinner. Kristine arranged for a suite to accommodate all of them complete with a Christmas tree, garland, wreaths and decorations that she brought from home. Kristine personally bought a dog stocking and treats for the daughter’s new puppy.
GOOD CITIZEN Sponsored by: Ottawa Citizen
Anthony Vitanza – Ottawa International Airport Authority
Anthony joined the Infoguide program at the Ottawa International Airport Authority in 2003 when he was still a student. Despite the fact that he was their youngest volunteer, his gregarious nature and exuberance endeared him to the entire team. These same traits have also made him popular with passengers at the airport. Anthony has been nominated several times as a Star of the City and the airport has received numerous letters of praise. From staying late after his shift, to fixing someone’s car, to tracking down a lost item, Anthony doesn’t think twice before going the extra mile. One passenger said: “Too often we complain about service received from public institutions and organizations, and so it gives me the greatest pleasure to offer my compliments and commendations to your airport and this young man for service above and beyond the call of duty.”
The Stars of the City dessert, prepared by students of the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College. CREDIT: Teckles Photography
GO THE EXTRA MILE Sponsored by: Ottawa International Airport Authority
Patrick Douville – The Westin Ottawa
This guest’s flight was cancelled and they were re-routed to their final destination – Ottawa. Due to the changes with their flights, their baggage containing their prescription medication and clothes didn’t make it to Ottawa with them. Patrick made countless phone calls to the airline and received different information about the whereabouts of the baggage each time. Finally the guests learned that the bags were at the airport but the airline wasn’t sure where. After Patrick’s shift he went to the airport to look for the bags. At first he was told the bags weren’t there but Patrick insisted that they check one more time. Surprisingly his persistence paid off and the bags were found. He then took the time to drive the bags back to the Westin and deliver them to the guests.
HOST(ESS) WITH THE MOST(EST) Sponsored by: Downtown Rideau BIA
Meme Guerrini – Hilton Garden Inn – Ottawa International Airport
This guest had been transferred to Ottawa for work. Meme helped the guest find local real estate websites, went to the local corner store on her break and picked up real estate magazines and bought the guest a big piece of chocolate cake to help with the stress of being far from family. This guest had spent more time at the Hilton Garden Inn – Ottawa International Airport than at home recently as she transitioned to a new job. When her family joined her for a weekend in Ottawa, Meme sent them a cheese and fruit tray and coupons for free breakfasts for the weekend.
EVENING STAR Sponsored by: Casino du Lac-Leamy
Christopher Ward – Lord Elgin Hotel
One of Christopher’s 38 nominations summed up his standard of service with the following:
“From the time we checked in to when we left four days later, he provided us with such welcoming and gracious guidance that we felt we had a personal concierge.”
STAR PROPERTY Sponsored by: Ottawa Hotels of the Westmont Hospitality Group
Casino du Lac-Leamy
Customers from Ottawa and beyond continue to rave about the professionalism, friendliness and the initiative taken by the staff to please each and every guest.
Category winners received a beautiful award along with a $250 Shop Card courtesy of Rideau Centre. The overall 2011 Star of the City receives another $250 Shop Card from Rideau Centre and an all-inclusive trip for two to the sunny south courtesy of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association.