VIP Service School has become Palma’s first training facility to be able to offer GUEST programme courses to interior yacht crew. CEO and head trainer Hazel Anderson set up the company after 17 years working on yachts, recognising that there was a gap in the market for steward and stewardess training and support in Mallorca.
Having started the training out of the Galley Club, Palma’s yacht cookery school, VIP Service School relocated to new premises in May, and started running its first courses at the facility in June. Now that the school is PYA-approved to offer GUEST Introduction (Entry) Level 1 courses, Anderson believes that this will add another level of professionalism to the training centre.
Feeling that the interior department lacked any formalised training, the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) introduced the GUEST (Guidelines for Unified Excellence in Service Training) programme in 2010 and has since been pushing the accreditation towards being an industry standard. In supporting the programme, Anderson hopes that being a yacht steward or stewardess will be increasingly seen as a professional career path.
“GUEST interior training is a recognisable entity on its own,” explains Anderson. “A lot of interior crew feel that they don’t need any training, but the industry is growing fast and I think that eventually some mandatory training will be required. The GUEST programme provides a solid career path for interior crew and evidence that crew are investing in themselves.”
Having seen the industry change a lot over the course of her career, Anderson believes that if crew want to be taken seriously, they have to be seen investing in their career through undertaking training. She also sees training as more than just a certificate; it is also about confidence building, as well as developing transferrable skills.
“Most interior crew are already service minded, but when you add some polish and confidence, they can reach a higher standard,” Anderson continues. “A lot comes down to gaining soft skills; communication, planning and organisation, as well as developing a database of information. The more information stored, the more you are prepared to deal will different types of guests as you learn the little nuances that can appear between ages and nationalities.”
With the VIP Service School, Anderson wants to set a new precedent for professional interior training on the island. While initially the school will be focusing on providing entry-level courses and workshops, Anderson intends to turn her facilities into a ‘Centre of Excellence’ by building up a community of captains, crew, specialists and suppliers that can use the space in a constructive and affordable way. The team is also working on having the GUEST Advanced Level II modules approved in the near future and will be bringing more specialist course onto the curriculum.