Saturday September 15, 2012
GAB to host inaugural HAPA-GAB excellence award programme
By NG BEI SHAN
AN advocate of excellence, Guinness Anchor Bhd (GAB) places importance not only in the quality of its products but also emphasises on how its brews are served to ensure consumer satisfaction is achieved.
Stressing on consumer experience, GAB Academy was established in 2009 to support its trading partners in the training of frontline staff.
“We have been training outlet employees to serve beer properly for the past three years. A good beer has to be served at the right temperature, using the right glassware and with a professional attitude,” GAB marketing director Yap Swee Leng enthuses.
The food and beverage (F&B) industry definitely offers more than physical products. It also falls under the service industry where one's dining experience will only be complete with hospitality and ambience. As one of the core components in boosting the country's tourism, offering world-class service to patrons should be the benchmark for F&B outlets.
“As a brewery, we are very passionate about quality. We make an effort to ensure the quality of our beer is always the best when it reaches the consumer. However, if it is not served properly, consumers will not be able to enjoy it fully,” she says.
With over 5,000 outlet employees trained under this programme, GAB takes a step further to recognise the outlets that have been part of the GAB academy.
Hence, it pairs up with Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA) to form the inaugural HAPA-GAB Excellence Award programme with the objective of honouring deserving F&B outlets.
The collaboration will be HAPA's first.
The chemistry works for both parties as HAPA likes GAB's objective and its long-term plans in achieving excellence while GAB was looking for a credible partner to host the event.
“GAB is really committed in setting a higher benchmark in the industry. The level of involvement they have for this award is different compared with sponsors,” says HAPA founder Jennifer Ong who has presided over HAPA for 13 years.
There are five categories under the programme, namely: best service quality, best entertainment, best product quality, best consumer experience and ultimately, outlet of the year.
Outlet of the year will be bestowed to the most deserving participant that is nominated in three out of the four categories.
According to Yap, there are more than 900 outlets throughout Malaysia that have participated in the training and among them, 73 from Johor, Penang and Klang Valley are in the running for the HAPA-GAB Excellence Awards.
“Only outlets that have undergone training provided by the GAB Academy are eligible for nomination, which make the award exclusive,” Yap says.
Explaining the mechanism of the award, Ong says: “Judges will be sent as anonymous guests to the participating outlets. The panel comprises of 12 independent judges which includes top chefs, culinary experts and captain of industries.
“There will be two rounds of judging to ensure fairness. The judges will visit the outlets at different times. Once during peak hours and another during non-peak hours to find out if there is consistency.”
Ong says guest experience is really important. “An excellent outlet is a combination of good food, good drinks, ambience and guest experience.”
Another aspect is entertainment, which is not confined to clubs and pubs but any establishment that provides the ambience for customers to feel satisfied, she explains.
On the rationale of investing in this programme, Yap elaborates: “The training and recognition are intangible efforts that reciprocate the relationship between GAB and our trading partners.
“Relationship is something money can't buy but we want to invest in. We might not be able to see direct sales from organising the event but consumers will order another beer if they enjoy the experience. It can be achieved if F&B outlets raise their standards.”
While the ideal is to achieve world-class standards, it is not without challenges.
Ong says industry players are pressured to hire foreign workers due to labour shortage.
“GAB can provide training on product knowledge. On the other hand, employers have to improve the language skills of their employees so that communication does not become a barrier and affect customer experience.
“Employers must have the awareness to train their workers. They can send them for short language courses so that they are able to understand customers when they serve them. At the end of the day, good service translates to better business,” she says.
In terms of the F&B standards in Malaysia compared with neighbouring countries like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, there is still some catching up to do, she adds.
She reminds employers that good staff is an asset and they are investments that F&B owners should not overlook.
Going forward, Yap hopes that the event can be held annually and reach out to more outlets across the country.
Registration of the award began in March, followed by judging which was carried out from April to July. Award winners will be announced during the Red Carpet Gala dinner set on Sept 21.