Customer service is new to the former soviet-ruled country.
Located on the east side of the Black Sea, the Republic of Georgia has experienced a great deal of political and economical changes since the era of Soviet Union rule came to an end in 1991.
But besides experiencing an economic boom, the fledgling country has also received a wave of unexpected but welcome visitors: tourists.
Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of State and the International Research and Exchange Board, Kevin Anthony found himself miles away from home—and from his post as the Chair of Hotel Management at College of the Canyons—and teaching a group of 25 Tbilisi Ilia Chavchavadze State University students about the value of customer service last May.
“They were very interested in learning how we approach customer service and wanted to see how we do it here in America,” said Anthony.
Because Georgia is “awakening” from the Communist way of doing things, in which “customer service did not have any value whatsoever,” the country must learn how to treat customers differently, said Anthony.
Anthony taught students how the hotel management industry works and how to develop and manage their skills during a three-day workshop, which led to a “terrific dialogue.” Anthony’s main lesson for the students was that “good customer service is at the core of every service industry.”
“Georgian people have a very strong culture,” said Anthony. “They have to take that culture and put it into their service.”
Anthony was invited to teach the customer service workshops by a former COC student of his, Natalie Mchedlishvili, because she said that COC professors were very motivating.
“It was really special to hear her say that,” said Anthony.
Prior to teaching hotel management at COC for the past 10 years, Anthony taught at the UCLA extension for 20 years and has run several hotels in Southern California.
He was attracted to hotel management because of the people. “If you enjoy meeting amazing people, this is the place to be,” said Anthony.
“It was interesting to step into a country that wants to start a tourism economy,” said Anthony. “Georgia is going to have terrific tourism, they have the resources.”
Hotel chains like the Marriott and Radisson have already moved in as the country’s tourism industry continues to grow.
On his last day, Anthony visited the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, and Sighnaghi, the easternmost city of Kakheti that has become a tourist hub.
“The food was great,” said Anthony. “I can’t remember the names but it was all very delicious.”
Back home and in his classroom, he said he will never forget his trip to Georgia.
“You take a trip like that and it expands your horizons,” said Anthony.