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Singapore announces Finalists for Tourism Awards 2008

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Wednesday, 30 January  2008

Anticipation for Singapore's annual Tourism Awards 2008 is heating up, with the 84 finalists vying for 22 award categories were announced Tuesday. Organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the Awards ceremony on 4 March 2008 promises to put the spotlight on the stars of the tourism industry in Singapore. This years event takes on the theme, Our Tourism Universe, Our Brightest Stars.

Marking its 22nd year, the Tourism Awards has evolved from a tourist and travel-focussed programme into one encompassing all service industries, ranging from hospitality to entertainment and nightlife, new tourism business concepts and entrepreneurship to tourism-related products and attractions.

Mr Ken Low, Assistant Chief Executive (Brand & Communications), Singapore Tourism Board, said, The Tourism Award has established itself as the supreme accolade of service excellence. This years finalists continue the fine tradition of past years winners in extending excellent service to their customers. They deserve to be lauded for being service champions who are contributing to and continually raising service standards in Singapore.

Over the years, STB has consistently enhanced the Tourism Awards by adapting to the changing needs of the service industry. With travellers and customers becoming more discerning, the Awards began placing greater emphasis on innovation, creativity and experiential factors. This has helped spur the tourism industry to create unique experiences and distinctive service elements to ensure their own and Singapores competitiveness.

With several shopping malls opening or reinventing themselves in recent years, the Tourism Awards this year revived the Best Shopping Experience Shopping Mall category. First-time finalist VivoCity, which opened in December 2006, is up against the more established Paragon and Wisma Atria. The Award is recognition of its focused approach to service excellence, which began in January 2007, said its Centre General Manager, Mrs Wendy Low. To unify our service standards, service vision, values and behaviours, we conducted audits, focus group studies and surveys before the development of the service framework and training programme. Regular mystery audits are carried out to check on the service standards. We recognise and reward individuals and companies that give excellent service.

Despite being smaller establishments, boutique-sized players have distinguished themselves for their excellent service delivery in various categories. One such company is Anthropology Homeware which is a finalist in the Best Shopping Experience - Specialty Store category. Its commitment to service excellence extends from top-down. Its Director, Mr Jay Wee, for example, often doubles up on the front-line serving customers in order to gain valuable feedback to keep improving the service rendered. Also in the running for this category are the Night Safari Retail Shops, Nike by B.I.R.D. and the Singapore Zoo Shop.

Committed service staff members such as Mr Muhammed Faizal Bin Amron, who works at the Oscar & Co boutique on Siloso Beach and is a finalist in the Best Tourism Host- Retail category, make all the difference when engaging with customers. His supervisor, Ms Della Ng, Operations Manager (Retail) for Sentosa Leisure Group, said, Faizal has a natural ability to connect with his guests and make them feel at ease with his affable, helpful ways as well as his enthusiasm and good sense of humour. Guests always feel welcomed by his attentiveness from the moment they step into our stores. He has the touch to make the guests day special and memorable. And this probably makes him stand out from among the rest.

One of the more hotly contested categories at this years Tourism Awards is that for Best Nightspot Experience. Newcomers The Butter Factory and St James Power Station are up against stalwarts of the entertainment scene the multiple Tourism Award winner, ZOUK, and last years winner, Ministry of Sound.

The Butter Factorys Creative Director and Co-owner, Mr Bobby Luo, firmly believes that excellent service is the key differentiator in the competitive nightlife scene here. He said, Service is paramount to us and all our staff will go through a strict regime of training. Our objective is to always make our guest feel like theyve made the right decision in choosing us within five minutes of entering our front door.

Similarly, Ms Cheryl Khong, Publicity Manager of St James Power Station, emphasised that good service goes hand in hand with St James multi-concept entertainment offerings to offer patrons a memorable experience. Its commitment to service excellence is evidenced by two of its staff members being named finalists in the Best Tourism Host Nightspot category. Mr Mohd Alinsiyrah Bin Abdul Samat and Mr Mohd Syahid Aidil Putra Mohamed Amin face stiff competition from One Rochesters Ms Roslinda Binte Ibrahim in that category. This is the second year running that a staff member from One Rochester is honoured in this category. The company rewarded last years winner, Mr Mohamad Yuzaini Bin Israil, with a trip to Spain and promised Ms Roslinda a similar reward, showing how serious it is about maintaining an excellent service culture.

New Majestic Hotel is another first-time finalist which has two of its staff members vying for the Best Tourism Host Hotel honour. They are Front Office Executive, Ms Rabiatul Adaweyah Bte Md Ahiar, and Ms Angelia Wu Zhi Yuan, Front Office Assistant Manager. They are up against Mr Govindaraj A/L Subramaniam from Fairmont Singapore (formerly Raffles The Plaza), Ms Jaya Letchmi Selvaraju of the Conrad Centennial Singapore, and Ms Radia Binte Masnor of InterContinental Singapore).

Other first-time finalists can be found in the Best New Retail Concept category which recognises innovative ideas to enliven the retail scene. Making the cut are CHNG Kees Spice of Life, Franck Muller Boutique, iwannagohome! and Giordano Concepts.

Top honours for the Tourism Awards remain the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism, Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year, New Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year, Special Recognition Award and Uniquely Singapore Award. These top awards are not open to public nomination but are instead shortlisted by close nomination and selected by a panel of judges.

Nominations for the 22 categories open for public vote was held from 10 September to 5 October 2007. Some 35,000 unique nominations were received. Each person is allowed to submit one nomination per nominee per category to ensure that there are no repeat votes for the same organisation or individual. Nominees were then presented to judging panels comprising members of the industry as well as members from both the public and private sector. Judges assessed how well the nominees met the criteria for each of the award categories and made a first shortlist. They also conducted mystery site visits to the shortlisted nominees assess the service experience first-hand. The judging panels then conferred to select deserving finalists and winners for their respective categories.

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