(GIS) – The Department of Tourism concluded the first in a series of training workshops for vendors of the Castries market on June 12.
More than 40 vendors participated in this preliminary exercise, and expressed tremendous enthusiasm and gratitude to the facilitator and organisers.
“We are so thankful to Mr Crockett for imparting his knowledge to us and we are eager to put what we have learned into practice,” said one of the vendors, during a short vote of thanks.
The workshop was facilitated by Mr James Crockett, a tourism consultant hired to deliver the training, under the OECS Regional Tourism Competitiveness Project (ORTCP). Crockett used an easy conversational approach in his delivery style of tutoring the vendors.
During the five-day training which was spread over five weeks starting on May 22, Crockett discussed a series of topics with the vendors including: customer service; sales techniques; marketing; branding/marking/labelling; and promoting Saint Lucia’s heritage, culture and traditions through local goods/products. He stressed to the vendors the importance of knowing the tourism sector in order to capitalise on visitor spending and improve on their individual enterprises. One of his key messages to the vendors during the training exercise was to be ‘open to change,’ especially encouraging them “to adopt the business technique of People, Place and Product” in order to revamp their business.
The 3Ps model embraces a successful formula which combines market-product fit, with a clear focus on customers and smart applicable methods that bring about improved sales and growth in business ventures. Throughout the workshop, the vendors showed high interest, commitment, attentiveness and astuteness and were keen to apply some make-over to their sales, services and products.
Crockett ended the workshop by encouraging the vendors “to move with the times.” He said: “You can’t stay where you are because the world is continuously changing. Tourists are looking for experiences, so integrate stories into selling your products. Become a product expert. For example, a coconut vendor can “have a sign listing the benefits of drinking coconut water, a fruit vendor can begin selling smoothies made on the spot from local fruits like mango. Everybody wants to earn more money, so it’s easy to sell what sells, but it’s far more important to sell something uniquely and authentically Saint Lucian,” Crockett asserted.
The vendor training programme was organised by the Department of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, through the OECS Regional Tourism Competitiveness Project (ORTCP), which is funded by the World Bank. This is the first in a series of activities to support the upgrade of the Castries market and surrounding areas.
The ORTCP is focused on tourism enhancement and is aimed at (i) facilitating movement of tourists between the participating countries using ferries; (ii) improving selected tourism sites and (iii) strengthening capacity for regional tourism market development.