Sunday, 24 June 2012 07:04
By D Francis
Antigua St John's - Anthony ‘Tony’ Johnson said ‘paying attention to every little detail’ is what got to him to where he is today in the hotel industry.
In an interview with Caribarena.com on Friday, hard on the heels of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award during at the National Tourism Awards this week, Johnson said ‘it was a great moment; I felt very honoured.”.
The 88 year old Hotelier, who owns Siboney Beach Club at Dickenson Bay, also credited this award to his very supportive staff that has been with him since he built his own hotel in 1981.
When asked about his recipe for success and longevity in the hotel industry, without much thought Johnson identified the reason as paying care and attention being paid to the details.
‘A lot of people don’t care much about details, sad to say, it’s about earning as much money as you can, but you have to pay keen attention to details and provide excellent service or at least come as close as possible to doing so. Within the industry you have hospitality and service; apart from providing a place to stay, which is basically the hospitality aspect, you have to ensure that the guests get the best service by looking into their needs on all levels. Is the lighting in the rooms OK? Is the food great? How was the service? And so on. Things like these. And that’s what our staff here are very good at. It makes me happy when I see people do what they are paid to do at the best of their ability.”
Johnson further noted that when it comes to service of excellence it should not only relate to tourism oriented businesses.
“Every one of us is in the service industry in some way if you think about it, and those who provide the correct service are the ones promoting excellence in what they are doing.”
Johnson also underscored the importance of guest comment boxes at all hotels across the island and at the country’s ports of call.
‘I think this is very important; I want to hear what the guests are thinking and their suggestions on how we can do things better. And every hotel should want to. If the comments are good that’s wonderful and if there are too many negatives you may need to ask yourself what can be done to make it better immediately,” Johnson remarked.
He also commended the many young people who have climbed to the top of the ladder in the industry and urged them to continue on that level of excellence. “I am particularly impressed with the Chef of the Year and the many women who have received awards; I’m sure they strove to do what they must to earn these awards.”
Johnson was also adamant about the need for more cooperation between government and stakeholders in the industry. He added, “We who’ve been in the hotel business all these years must know by now what will make or break the industry and I think government can listen and work more closely with us, and we all work together to push the industry forward.”
The lifetime achiever also said more investments are timely, but noted this must be approached with much care and consideration in order for maximum benefits to be achieved.
Johnson, who was born in England and grew up Australia, has a multiplicity of experiences in just about a little of everything. He was a writer for yachting and traveling magazine, has a wealth of experience in swimming and sailing and the building industry. He came to Antigua in 1959 and his first job was working on the Long Bay Hotel building. His vast building experiences took him not only to several other major projects like building schools on hotels across the country, but also across several countries in the Caribbean.
Johnson also has a humorous tale-telling side to him, and when asked about his future plans in the industry he said: “Well - given my age I will take a rest for a while; but not yet. “
In response to a question about the secret about his youthful appearance he shared, “I tell you more: I have a hard time convincing people of my age; they’ve usually put me about 10 - 15 years younger. But really all I do is take care of myself,” he said. “Do youthful things: keep active and eat healthy. I learned to surf at 59. I deliberately do things to keep youthful and I feel good.”