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Tourism Champions: Lightbourne brings guests to tears(in a good way)

Tourism is the largest industry in The Bahamas and the world and continues to grow. Today, there are over 1,000 different types of jobs which Bahamians can choose from in the diverse and dynamic tourism industry. This week’s Tourism Champion is Micklyn Rolle.

It’s not the sun, sand or sea that keep guests coming back, but the service experience guests have during their visit, Micklyn Lightbourne, 2010 Cacique Award winner for employee of the year toldGuardian Business.

“My experience in the hotel industry has taught me that every time a guest comes into your atmosphere or your personal space, you have to deliver exceptional service,”Lightbourne said.”You have to remember that guests are not only looking for good service, they’re looking for great service.”

The Sandals Royal Bahamian butler explained that when guests receive great service, their vacation experience is personalized. Weather may let guests down, and accommodations may have their challenges too, but that live, personal service can trump them both, he said.

“I got a letter today that a guest wrote back. In that letter the guests state that when they were leaving and had to say goodbye to me, they cried,”Lightbourne said.”I call that delivering great service.”

Lightbourne has been a butler for over 13 years, and is certified with the Guild of Professional English Butlers under facilitator Robert Watson, as well as by the International School for Butlers under Ivor Spencer. He has achieved an associate membership from the Guild, which means that he can train others and certify them to be butlers.

“I can actually open up a school[to train Butlers],”Lightbourne said. He received his associate membership from the Guild in August, and said that to the best of his knowledge he was the only Bahamian with that status.

Butler has been in the tourism industry for 21 years, starting out at the Crystal Palace in 1991 and moving to the Atlantis Resort in 1992. He moved from space cleaner to houseman, doorman, and later bellman before entering the butler field 13 years ago at the One and Only Ocean Club.

“I always saw myself as moving forward in the hotel, and a butler position became available. I didn’t know what I was getting into or what it entailed, only that it was another area of growth for me,” Lightbourne said, adding,”I haven’t regretted it–it’s just an awesome experience.”

For people-oriented employees with front-line personalities and skills, it is a rewarding path, as it brings you closer to guests and delivering personalized service than any other department, from Lightbourne’s perspective. It is also the’buck-stops-here’department for guests privileged to have the service. Lightbourne said butlers had the personal obligation to ensure the best guest experience.

“As butlers, we act in a managerial position as well. We have to find ways to solve problems, be creative, and make sure every department is doing its job to take care of the guests,”he explained.”The number one aspect of our code of conduct is to make sure guests had a great experience.”

Over the years, Lightbourne has personally taken care of celebrities like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Kelsey Grammar, Emeril Lagassi, Nicolas Cage, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert De Niro, Gabrielle Union, and the list goes on. But the thrill of the job does not come from who the guest is for Lightbourne. For him, the greatest thrill was when a guest appreciated his service so much that not only do they immediately book to come back, but request that he takes care of them.

Coincidentally, Lightbourne had that precise experience last Thursday when he spoke toGuardian Business.

That love for delivering excellent service is natural to Lightbourne. He said that even on those occasional days when it took a little more motivation to get out to work, the thought that his guests may miss him, or that something would go wrong when he is not around to fix it, was more than motivation enough for him.

Lightbourne said it really helps to have an understanding wife, too, and credits his wife, Stephanie, with being his pillar of strength. Being at home does not mean your customers won’t still have needs, so he said a spouse who is ready for the calls from work and a butler’s schedule is a true boon.

At Sandals, Lightbourne’s Manager Diana Dorsette and supervisor Helena Moss along with the butler team there continue to be a part of his success and what he can achieve for his guests. He noted that ultimately it is a team effort that wins the day. From the Ocean Club, General Manager Russell Miller and other supervisors, managers, and his colleagues were important mentors and partners in his success as well.

Lightbourne also expressed special thanks to Sandals PR guru Jasmina for her work in nominating him for the Cacique Award and the Sandals general manager at the time, Jeremy Mutton, for his support.

Tourism Champions is a weekly feature by the Bahamas Hotel Association and The Nassau Guardian, profiling outstanding individuals in the tourism industry.

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