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Putting COVID-19 ‘downtime’ to good use

With the hospitality industry at a standstill and thousands of people laid off due to COVID-19, Chanel Ferguson had extra time on her hands. She made good use of the time by taking a free online certification in hospitality and tourism management offer by Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

FAU’s five online session certification taught participants about hospitality law, career competencies, marketing and revenue management, finance fundamentals and service excellence. In addition to keeping people positively engaged while they are not at work, the certificate program was offered to help hourly associates, as well as supervisors and executives who work in hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, or any other service-oriented business, be better prepared when they do get back to work.

Ferguson, Atlantis’ director of human resources (HR), was attracted to take the course because it was free, with the $900 per participant fee waived for everyone registered, and she felt it would be good for her growth in the industry.

Ferguson, who has a Bachelor’s degree in law, said she appreciated the broader insight into the industry she gleaned from the course.

“It touched aspects you don’t even get to touch on at work. I felt it was good for my growth,” said Ferguson.

She said the marketing and revenue management aspect was an eye-opener.

“The marketing and revenue management showed me that it’s not what we think it is when it comes to marketing. Most people, when it comes to marketing, would think that it’s just advertising, but it’s so much more – especially in the hospitality industry, because you have to actually look at the revenue and the room nights in getting these guests to come to the hotel – and it’s a lot of work. I thought it was just making up some advertisement or something like that, but it wasn’t. It was more about the numbers, and making sure that you had the right numbers, and what you’re doing to get the numbers into the hotel.”

She said the course also gave her more insight into the bigger picture of her company.

“Sometimes, when you’re in a department, you just think of the department itself, and you don’t look at the company as a whole – now I have a broader idea of the company – and not just HR or the finance part. There are other areas that are very important to ensuring the hospitality industry is run properly that I honestly would not normally think of.”

Ferguson’s completion of the FAU online certification fits in with Atlantis’ focus for employees on education and training. Continued education has always been a part of Atlantis’ foundation from its inception, through the Atlantis University.

She was one of more than 1,000 associates that have already passed and obtained certificates from FAU.

Atlantis officials are doubling their efforts to encourage staff to take advantage of this “downtime” and continue to expand their knowledge by engaging in a range of academic exposure for self-improvement in preparation for the new challenges that lie ahead. The organization is promoting self-growth and continued training by continuously directing employees to free online training courses, particularly certificate courses related to the hospitality industry.

Through Atlantis University they were sourcing inspirational books, filtering articles and weekly quick reads on leadership and motivation, such as “Primed to Perform” and “Learned Leadership”, via email to its employee database to keep them engaged.

Audrey Oswell, Atlantis president and managing director, in a press release said in preparation for the new era, Atlantis will do what it must to help employees to develop its human resource, emphasizing the importance of self-improvement and its connectivity to the quality of the product it produces and delivers to the world.

Ferguson used her recent online certification experience as a learning experience for her five-year-old son, Ayden Ferguson, who is engaged in virtual learning, with schools nationwide closed since March 16 for physical, face-to-face, in-classroom learning.

“With him it became more important, because I wanted to get good grades. Eventually it became like a competition because he wants to do good in school now because he saw mommy getting 100 on her tests. So, in his classes he’s trying to do good as well in class and answer all the teacher’s questions, and he’s paying attention,” she said.

“I always tell him, you’re a smart boy, and it’s not cute to be dumb. You need to pay attention and do your work in school and listen to your teachers. So, I think him seeing that I had to stay on that computer for hours and just listen to the professors, he now does it. I don’t have a problem telling him, ‘Ayden pay attention, look at what your teacher is saying,’ because he wants these good grades as well.”

The FAU hospitality and tourism management program has offered the certificate for more than 10 years at a cost of $900 per participant, but FAU waived all fees to help workers weather this unprecedented period as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bahamas had 83 confirmed cases COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths, 25 recovered cases, eight hospitalized cases, 47 active cases yesterday; and in-country, 1,391 tests have been completed. Worldwide there were 3,476,021 confirmed cases, 246,027 deaths and 1,113,454 recovered cases. 

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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