What are the awkward situations that a tourist faces in Albanian restaurants

2024-01-15 11:01:51Dhoma e rrëfimit SHKRUAR NGA ENTELA RESULI
Gladiola Dona

Entela Resuli

How many times do we encounter bad service when we go to a certain restaurant or hotel!? During the summer, social networks are full of complaints in this direction, while during the winter it seems as if this sector falls into silence, both in terms of attendance and those who do not receive the service they pay for.

How many times is it said that, "there are jobs, but there are no professionals", those who work in the field of tourism understand this situation very well.

Albania is a country that sees tourism as a potential for economic development, but it is noticed everywhere that work is lagging in the service sector.

An unqualified staff in this regard can serve as anti-advertisement for foreign tourists coming to Albania.

Gladiola Dona is the founder of the "Hospitality and Tourism Academy" or in Albanian, the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism.

It is not by chance that Dona is involved in this venture. Since she was 15 years old, she started working in one of the best hotels in Albania, at that time, 'Rogner'. There he learned the basic elements of politeness and customer hospitality.

He has learned how to present himself in the best way, shake hands and look the person in front of you in the eye, say the right words at the right time, thoroughly know the rules of the table, ethics, the elite manner of behavior and above all, to become a professional in the field of hospitality and tourism.

It seems that over the years this became a way of life for Gladiola, so she decided to continue her higher studies in Hotel Tourism and Business Management and Marketing.

He completed a good part of his studies in Salzburg, Austria, where he lived and worked for 8 years. Then he decided to return to Albania, since Austria was not challenging enough for him to realize something where he would leave his mark.

A few years ago, he founded the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism Academy.

Dona saw this as a need because according to her, and not only, Albania needs qualified staff in the field of tourism.

Today we talked with Gladiola about this hot spot of tourism in our country, the qualification of the staff and the culture of service.

-Gladiola, it is often articulated that tourism in Albania is one of the most important points of economic development in the country, do you agree?

Yes, it is very true. Not only the flows of tourists who spend money in Albanian tourism, but also for the locals themselves, we do well to make our efforts to make them spend money in Albanian tourism.

- What do we lack in Albania at this point?

Above all, we miss the service. The "servant" approach to tourists.

- Why is the service still not at a satisfactory level? Where did the work go?

And while we are known as a hospitable people and the cuisine has started to be refined in Albania, there is something that we have not taken seriously yet. The service! Maybe we ourselves are consumers with low expectations, but even these professions in the service are not taken seriously by the working people.

Most people think that it is the easiest profession to be a waiter, bartender or receptionist, it is not even seen as a profession.

- Businesses often complain that they are understaffed and find it difficult to find responsible people, how true is this?

It's very true. Businesses really struggle to find qualified staff. I think it is the duty of businesses to start seeing staff as assets first.

A qualified staff automatically translates into numbers. Think how much a hotel loses, for example, if the receptionist quits and they have to replace him with another. First, the new receptionist will make endless mistakes, lose customers and anger those who are consuming in the hotel, until he gets his hand. The same with waiters, bartenders, etc. All efforts of businesses should be focused on staff training and the approach to keep staff as long as possible.

 - What impresses you when you go to a restaurant or a tourist place in Albania?

I am a "sick" eye in this regard. I have an occupational disease to see everything with a critical eye. I'm trained to spot at first glance, from creases in the tablecloth, crooked table settings, a grimace from the receptionist or a wrong posture. What I encounter most often when I eat, especially in the areas beyond Tirana, is the staff that steps up to you, greets you and, above all, suggests and makes those professional conversations about selling tourist services and products. Most of the staff are not shy or rude. A staff that steps is a staff that does not know how to suggest, does not know how to serve, their hands tremble under the tray or do not know what tourist offer is offered.

A staff who steps up is an untrained staff.

-What is the most embarrassing situation that you have been told about the service in our country?

I have heard firsthand some situations that I would not call interesting, but I would call them "miserable". I have seen and heard hoteliers who shout at customers, who lay out breakfast buffets and count the eggs they receive, owners who stand in the middle of the restaurant and dominate with their orders in order to stand out that they are the "Owners".

Fortunately, these "entrepreneurs" are becoming less and less. The fact is that competition has increased and efforts to improve have begun.

Tourism businesses are trying to build their competitive advantage. Someone differentiates themselves in prices, someone in service, someone puts on a "show" in front of the customer with passion in an effort to make a boom in social media.

What are the awkward situations that a tourist faces in Albanian restaurants

-At this point, what do we need right now?

We need to make an effort to train. Staff training will increase performance and therefore sales. Training should actually start from the top management levels. They must become trainers of their own staff. Beyond the stunning arrangements that entrepreneurs make, one must think about what will be offered. Imagine a luxurious, comfortable hotel with everything you could want, but where the staff does not know how to serve...

- How interested are young people in working in the field of tourism?

Not much, but it's starting to get interesting. Many young people who are trained go to work outside the borders or on cruises. But there are also those who see these professions as long-term. It is they, the passionate ones, who do not exchange this profession for any other. It is a beautiful profession that I have personally cultivated in myself since I was 18 years old and I cannot break away from it.

- Do you think that a day will come when we too will be people who will smile at the tourist and treat him as a "king"?

That day has come, but in certain businesses. It is they, the far-sighted entrepreneurs, who try to shine, who look at every "review" that is left on social media, on "Trip Advisor" and reflect it, who train the staff and keep them strong with good salaries, bonuses and kindness.

They are the entrepreneurs who make the staff see the business as their own, love what they do and drive it forward.

-You also travel a lot in Albania, which city has a culture of service and which one still has problems in this regard?

Tirana undoubtedly has good service, however I like the service in Durrës, Shkodër, Korçë, Gjirokastër, Berat and Permet. Of course there are exceptions.

-How much does the owner influence the service? Since often the owners do not come from the field of tourism...?

It affects a lot. The business will reflect the professionalism of the owner or manager. All staff will be affected by the owner or manager. You've noticed that the nicest businesses with the best service have owners or managers at the helm who are like that. There are staff who are frustrated with the owner or manager and their service will be the epitome of frustration.

-You have founded an academy, is there interest?

Yes, I founded the "Hospitality and Tourism Academy". In our courses, waiters beyond holding plates, learn communication, learn sauces, soups, meat roasts, learn wines and know how to explain and justify why this wine is the best accompaniment to a certain dish.

A good service happens when the customer leaves with more knowledge every time he enters the restaurant, for example he learns why wine goes with a certain type of meat, etc. Trained bartenders and waiters work in the best hospitality businesses already. There are over 300 waiters, bartenders, receptionists and hoteliers already certified. They really make a difference in the businesses they work for.

Meanwhile, there are many businesses that before they open, bring managers to be trained, then we trainers go to their business and there we train all the staff. A standard, a welcoming approach with professionalism…

-How should a good staff be in a restaurant, in a guesthouse, or in a resort?

A good restaurant staff notices you when you walk in the door and greets you or at least gives you a welcome sign. A good staff starts to suggest you, sharpen your senses with beautiful and professional speech and makes you perceive and love what you are about to consume from the moment you order. Think of a perfect kitchen served by arrogant waiters. A well-cooked and poorly served dish is no longer of any value. On the contrary, sometimes the service is more important than the cooking itself. The same with hotels. An unqualified staff can easily spoil the holidays.

- Is the summer season the one that highlights our shortcomings in the field of tourism?

Flaws have no season. Flaws must be fought in every season and every time, small or big. Even a poorly made morning coffee is a major flaw that needs to be improved.


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