A total of 1,203 nominations were received from residents and visitors to the region over the past year, nominating front-line staff from 67 businesses for their real-life examples of excellence in customer service. Everyone who was nominated as a Star of the City received a gold “star” lapel pin, a symbol of customer service excellence here in Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region.
An independent panel of judges comprised of industry leaders decided among 29 finalists to award the ultimate “Star of the City 2016” as well as winners in the following 8 categories.
Grand Prize Sponsored by the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association
Nathalie Coutou – Khewa Native Art Boutique
Nathalie Coutou’s story – A tour group was destined for the Mackenzie King Estate but was unable to get there as all the parkways in Gatineau Park were closed. The group made a frantic call to the Khewa Native Art Boutique in the hope that they could find somewhere nearby to go. Although the gallery was not open, Nathalie greeted them at 10:00AM, set up a teepee just for the group, entertained them with a traditional song of welcome, a smudging ceremony and she shared the story of the indigenous peoples of the area and invited everyone back into the gallery. The tour business now uses this as a customer service case study during their annual spring training.
HOST(ESS) WITH THE MOST(EST)
Sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels Group
Alisha Hewson – Westin Ottawa
*** WINNER *** Nathalie Coutou – Khewa Native Art Boutique
Nhat Huynh– Ottawa Marriott
(See Nathalie’s story above)
ABOVE & BEYOND
Sponsored by CF Rideau Centre
Audrey Doyle Richer – Casino du Lac-Leamy
Michael Norris – Delta Ottawa City Centre
*** WINNER *** Simon Noujaime – Westin Ottawa
Simon Noujaime’s story – In March 2016 a group had planned a winter-themed event that included use of an outdoor patio at the Westin Ottawa. When Simon discovered that the space had not been cleared the day of the event, he operated a snow blower outside in only his banquets uniform in an attempt to clear at least 3 ft of snow from the area. He was relentless in not only clearing snow himself as the wind whipped through in -10 degree temperatures, but he also led and directed his colleagues in maintenance to chip away at the ice, shovel and spread salt. Then when the music system wasn’t working and patio heaters failed to light, Simon solved those issues too – all with a pleasant demeanour and a smile.
STARS WITH HEART
Sponsored by Casino Du Lac-Leamy
*** WINNER *** Martin Roy – Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa East
Shirley Robson – Hotel Indigo
Xiaoling Huang – Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa
Martin Roy’s story – Guests of the hotel found an injured cat on the side of the road and brought it to the front lobby. After being told the details, Martin began calling vet clinics to see what could be done for the animal. An after-hours clinic was just about a 5 to 10 minute walk away from the hotel but he offered to drive the guests there so that the cat would not escape and be in further danger. Martin left his contact number with the clinic staff, checked on its condition in the days following, and kept the guests updated with the cat’s recovery during their stay.
GO THE EXTRA MILE
Sponsored by Ottawa International Airport Authority
Estelle O’Neil – Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa
Katie Jubenville – Hotel Indigo
*** WINNER *** Tarek Khefifi – Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa
Tarek Khefifi’s story – A guest staying at Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa feared she wouldn’t make it to her surgery scheduled for the following morning due to an impending ice storm. When she inquired about possible transportation options, Tarek offered to drive the guest to the hospital at 6:00AM before his shift. He contacted the hospital throughout the day to keep updated on the guest’s condition and when the guest mentioned that they didn’t have a ride back after surgery, Tarek again offered to drive through the storm and traffic.
WHAT’S LOST IS FOUND
Sponsored by Algonquin College
Carolyn Montgomery – Lord Elgin Hotel
Natalie Dumont – House of Cheese
*** WINNER *** Norma Salazar – Cartier Place Suite Hotel
Norma Salazar’s story – A guest left her laptop in the hotel room and only realized it once she was already at the airport. After realizing how soon the guest’s flight was leaving, Norma dropped everything, got in her car, and personally raced to the airport to deliver the laptop in time for the guest to make her flight with all of her belongings.
Sponsored by Westin Ottawa
Agron Ahmeti & Eric Champagne – Delta Ottawa City Centre
Bernhard Huber & Cristiana Solinas – Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute
*** WINNER *** Véronic Gauthier & Marie-Aimé Ndizihiwe – Hilton Lac Leamy
Véronic Gauthier & Marie-Aimée Ndizihiwe’s story – A regular guest of the Hilton Lac-Leamy was so enamoured with the linens at the hotel that he purchased a set for himself – complete with duvet, sheets, pillows, and mattress topper. At a later date, when Véronic inquired whether the guest was happy with his purchase, the guest mentioned that it just was not the same when the bed was not prepared by professionals. Determined to never leave a customer dissatisfied, Véronic partnered with Marie-Aimée to produce an instructional video on how to make a bed according to the standards of the Hilton Lac-Leamy.
Sponsored by Hendrix Restaurant Equipment and Supplies
Paul Albert – Sheraton Ottawa
Sumi Grewal – Grill 41 at the Lord Elgin
*** WINNER *** Tarek Khefefi – Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa
“He gave excellent customer service, was extremely charismatic, helpful and kind…definitely makes me only want to come to Les Suites.”
Sponsored by Ottawa Hotels of the Westmont Hospitality Group
Holiday Inn & Suites Ottawa – Kanata and Graffiti’s
Lord Elgin Hotel and Grill 41
Sheraton Ottawa Hotel
*** WINNER *** Les Suites Hotel, Ottawa
“These folks went above and beyond to not only ensure our stay was incredible but they were also fantastic ambassadors for the City of Ottawa.”