‘Be Our Guest’ with the Service Stars

Tourism to award Gold Stars to industry professionals at 12th annual gala


Business Development Coordinator for Fort McMurray Tourism Diana Rensler invites the community to “Be Our Guest” at this year’s Gold Star Awards Gala on February 28. Tickets on sale now for $45 per person. SUPPLIED PHOTO

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Fort McMurray Tourism is turning the tables around by inviting customer service representatives to be their guests for the 12th annual Gold Star Gala at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre (OSDC) on February 28.

Since 2004, the gala has been a traditional award ceremony to honour the employees in the tourism, hospitality, retail and service industry. This year’s theme: “Be Our Guest” is derived from the iconic Disney classic: Beauty and the Beast. It’s a theme that event organizers say may stick for years to come.

“It’s incredibly suiting,” said Business Development Coordinator for Fort McMurray Tourism Diana Rensler, who has been facilitating the upcoming awards gala. “The ‘Guest’ term and concept has been permeated through the hospitality industry and retail culture for some time.”

Rensler shared guests can expect an enchanted-inspired atmosphere with an unforgettable experience. The décor, theatrics, and presentations will all play a part in giving guests a magical experience. Some may recognize props from Keyano Theatre Company’s 4-Play Drama Series play: Into the Woods, which will be provided after the play ends on February 20 (Tickets for the play are on sale now at www.keyano.ca/theatre).

With 36 finalist nominees for the 2015 year in the Wood Buffalo region, the selection is showcased in 12 industry categories by nominations from the public.

The top three nominees for each category are selected based on the number of nominations each finalist has received, as well as, the judges’ review of notes from the original ballots; and the questionnaire submission from the finalists and their employers.

The ceremony itself awards the top nominees selected by an independent panel of judges.

“The nominees – and the business they work for – are doing this right,” she said. “The recognition they receive for serving all of us, all year long, is a strong affirmation that we recognize and appreciate all that they do, just by being themselves.”

During uncertain economic times, Rensler shared the ‘Guest Experience’ becomes increasingly important and this night will grant the opportunity to highlight the industry’s service success.

“The nominees – and the business they work for – are doing this right,” she said. “The recognition they receive for serving all of us, all year long, is a strong affirmation that we recognize and appreciate all that they do, just by being themselves. Fort McMurray Tourism is happy to recognize the people who really ‘bring it home’ for us every day with their welcoming Big Spirit.”

The Fort McMurray Tourism’s Gold Star program is the only awards campaign in the region that specifically recognizes exceptional customer service. With a vast body of research coming out of the travel and tourism industry, Rensler explained it’s able to confirm customer satisfaction.

“The most important element to the guest experience is what makes us happy that we came and keeps us coming back,” she said.

The 2015 Gold Star Program nominee results are listed as follows:

  • Outstanding Guest Services Accommodations – Franco Panganiban of the Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre, Alma Aquino of The Franklin Suite Hotel, and Jermaine Balanggoy of Chateau Nova.
  • Outstanding Housekeeping – Phakhanan Khammali of Vantage Inn & Suites, and Eric Lomibao of the Radisson Hotel and Suites.
  • Outstanding Dining Services – Kate Coleman of Chateau Nova; Jenna Savard of Table 63 at the Quality Inn, and Maddie Leeming at Atmosfere Restaurant.
  • Outstanding Server Bar/Lounge – Chantel Fluker of the Fort McMurray Golf Course, Denise Wilkinson of Alexander’s Lounge, and Brad Bailey at the Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre.
  • Outstanding Culinary Services – Candace Cheney of Chartwells Impressions Catering; Kathryn Friebe of Zee Bar & Grill, and Thea Jones of Atmosfere Restaurant.
  • Outstanding Customer Service Retail – Kim Curtis of Fort McMurray Home Hardware Building Centre; Melvin Bessey of Northstar Ford, and Alyssa Robson of Burnco Landscape Centers.
  • Outstanding Personal Services – Maria Colemares of Stillbrooke Spa, Alicia Harris of Achieve Wellness Spa, and Krista Kemp of Allure Medi-Spa.
  • Outstanding Administration Services – Rebecca Sims of Suncor Energy, Tamera Ellingson of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and Mohammad Hazim of NorthStar Ford.
  • Outstanding Tourism Services – Hitomi Ishimoto of the Fort McMurray Historical Society, Sam Parsons at Vista Ridge Ski Hill and Caitlyn Park of the Oil Sands Discovery Centre;
  • Outstanding Local Business – Helen Arong Fine Fashion, Fort McMurray Home Hardware Building Centre and NorthStar Ford.
  • Outstanding Media Services – Krista Balsom of YMM Magazine & Fort McMurray Child Magazine, Diana Noble of snapd Wood Buffalo and Shauna MacKinnon of Harvard Broadcasting at Mix 103.7.
  • Outstanding Transportation Services – Kevin Tremblay of White Wolf Transportation, Johnny Stewart of Mikisew Cree First Nation, and Khooder Majed of Sun Taxi.

The 2015 Fort McMurray Tourism Ambassador award will also be honoured to an outstanding resident who has gone above and beyond to highlight the community. This award is annually nominated by the members of the tourism industry.

The event is open to the public. Guests will be served hors d’oeuvres and entertainment for a ticket price of $45. This will also include an entry fee to the museum, which attendees are encouraged to take a guided tour or wander throughout the OSDC Interpretive Centre.

To learn more, visit www.fortmcmurraytourism.com/goldstar.

– Connect Weekly –