“To be successful as cruise resumes, cruise destinations need to be sure that stakeholders are ready and frontline teams are trained to provide excellent service while incorporating all of the protocols – and we can’t lose sight of the fact that our cruise visitors, like all of us, want to have a little fun.” - Beth Kelly Hatt, Founder, Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence
In 2020, Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence is celebrating 10 years of delivering training programs to the cruise industry. We did not imagine that celebrating this milestone would include developing new online and virtual training programs while cruise was at a standstill, or that we’d be unable to raise a glass in celebration together before the year was out.
Like so much in our industry, our training looks very different today than it has over the past 10 years; but as this year has unfolded, the importance of training continues to be reinforced. As part of the celebration of 10 years of training programs, Aquila is launching the Aquilacademy on YouTube. The Aquilacademy features free short training videos on a variety of topics that are relevant to destination stakeholders, tour operators, tour guides, and frontlines who work with the cruise industry. From tips on handling difficult situations for frontlines to key factors in designing great guest experiences, Aquila is sharing great information with subscribers – including some behind-the-scenes looks at Aquila’s own tour operations in their “living lab” of Saint John, in Canada. Be sure to subscribe!
Aquila has also responded by making their training programs accessible to more people in more destinations. Several new training programs have been created to support the industry in preparation for cruise to resume, including the popular Service Excellence: COVID-19 Edition that was delivered last month to more than 2000 frontlines in the British Virgin Islands. This fun and engaging program allows participants to understand how to deliver excellent service and make those very important connections with guests while following all of the necessary protocols. Another popular new program has been the stakeholder workshop “How to Prepare Your Community to Welcome Cruise”, which has been well received by numerous cruise destinations as they work to prepare their stakeholders and their communities for the resumption of cruise in their destinations.
Even with travel at a standstill in 2020, Aquila delivered 63 workshops and programs online and virtually to more than 5600 participants from 27 countries around the world. “We leave a little piece of our heart in every cruise destination we work with. We want to see them all be successful, and our goal with every new training program we develop is to support them to achieve that success,” adds Melanie Colpitts, VP, Training.
More than 10 years ago, when cruise executives came to Aquila and asked us to take our model for training our teams and operating our tours and share it with others, we certainly had no idea that it would be received like this. “We are honored, humbled and grateful. To the cruise executives who encourage and support us, to the destination stakeholders who trust us to train their teams, and to our many friends in the industry who continue to cheer us on, thank you all. You are Aquilamazing,” adds Danielle Timmons, VP – Tour Operations.
And for a little fun, we took a look back over the past decade, and we discovered that since 2010:
- Aquila has delivered training in 73 countries around the world.
- More than 18,000 people have participated in Aquila’s training.
- We’ve grown from having 1 training program to more than 20 training programs.
- All of our lessons are learned in our “living lab” of tour operations in Saint John on the Bay of Fundy, where we have welcomed 585,000 guests on shore excursions since 2010.
Aquila has just launched a new website, showcasing what our company looks like today and featuring all of our training programs. Check it all out at www.CruiseExcellence.com. And to celebrate 10 years of training programs, we also took to TikTok for a little fun with the #AquilaTequila Challenge. We are dreaming about being able to travel again and asked each other “When you can travel again, what will you pack?” We invite you to celebrate with us and join in the fun with the #AquilaTequila challenge – #whatwillyoupack?
Until we can all be together again, cheers to 10 years of training programs and helping raise the level of excellence in the cruise industry!