Boosting Tuesdays

Your next Food Hotspot covered

Why Avotaco is the place to be (eat)

Whenever I come to Malta between my work assignements, I always love it. Firstly, because it’s my home country and it’s an awesome place to be in, and secondly, because there are always a lot of new restaurants, hangouts, bars and cafes that open, that I like to go and checkout. I like to taste the variety of foods, new dishes, lovely cool decor, trends and their service and friendliness. Avotaco hit all of these.

I had never been to their Food truck before, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Situated in a great location, I quickly found parking and headed over inside to order. I love salads and opted for that, with a side of guac and chips. Mmmmm yummy! And yummy it was. The food is so fresh, it was as if they had just picked up the veg that very moment. My friend had the burrito and it was spectacular and extremely filling.

I went at a relatively calm time, but because you check the menu and go to order at the counter, its extremely easy and fast. And no cash. Love it. No wasting time finding your cash, waiting for the change… who has time for that nowadays. Only Cards are accepted at Avotaco and it’s genius. More and more restaurants should follow today’s trend, were everything is on card.

The management and the staff were all so welcoming and friendly and genuinely happy that we were eating and enjoying our time there. Even the chef came out to play, and the sombrero came out! yayayaayay!!

Whether you go for lunch and order for your colleagues, just yourself, eat there for dinner or order so that you don’t need to cook, Avotaco sure comes in handy and delicious. If you wanna eat where there are positive vibes, smiles all around, and everyone gulping down their beautiful dish, then Avotaco is the place to be. Well done guys on your initiative to take it to the next level and I will surely visit again when I’m back on the rock!

Have an avotalicious day peeps!

Ciao for now

Captain Falzon

Fit Fridays

Fit Fridays

Keeping Healthy during the Hoildays

So much food and drink- what to do?!

Yes, it’s that time of the year were we want to celebrate with our family friends. We get to see some of our family and friends that we don’t see often during the year with our busy schedules and work. We are invited to so many gatherings, parties, festivities and we also host some ourselves. The type of food that is served it typiccaly finger food, lots of carbs, dips, gravies, lots of liquor, deserts and so much more. We are lucky that nowadays we have a variety of ingredients to cook and bake with which are gluten free, have less carbs, less saturated fat, less salt

Boosting Tuesdays

Boosting Tuesdays

Twistees

The Forever Delicious and Popular Twistees

On one of my trips for work, leaving from the airport in Malta, I noticed a slightly bigger packet of twistees and with a different packaging. As I went closer, I noticed 6 different packets with 6 different flavors! I didn’t know what to do! I had to get on the plane fast but decided to buy 1 so I could taste. Heaven is all I could say. Wow, what a flavor! This was the Truffle Cheese, and my favourite from the 6. 

Anyone residing or visiting Malta knows about, or even more so, has had Twistees at some point. You can call them the National snack chips of Malta. In fact, you will also notice that on the new packets, there are new designes and also the advertising of the highly anticipated Valletta Capital of Culture 2018- V18. Yes! What better snack to have represent Valletta, Malta, than its favorite snack.

The 6 flavors are the Buttery Cheese, Caramel Cheese, Roast Beef Cheese, Truffle Cheese, Vanilla Cheese and the Classic Cheese. These are all Gluten Free and seriously tasty. 40 years of Twistees has expanded so much and it is even exported to a few other countries like Norway, France, Australia, U.K and more countries.

The next thing you need to do if you are in Malta right now is to go and buy these extremely satisfying snacks. If you are planning to visit between the rest of this year and next year during Valletta European Capital 2018, is to make sure you get your hands on them. If you don’t want to wait until the next visit, then you can order online through the Twistees website.

See ya’all. Time to open a new one! 🙂

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Who Works for Who?

What Some Managers Get Wrong

I don’t mean to start off with the negative, but it is unfortunate to see so many employees become the manager of the team and suddenly think they are better than the rest. Of course, you are now the manager, or one of the managers, for a reason. You have worked hard, put in your efforts, did more than others and so on. But the moment you feel that because you are the Manager, you have a team to work for you and that your team owes you, is the moment that you are devaluing your team, yourself and what you do.

In any management training workshops that I do for many managers in hotels, firms, companies and cruise ships, I start by asking the same question; ” Who are you here for?” In the case of hotels and cruiseships, the majority of the managers tell me that they are here for the guests. WRONG. Managers that have thier own staff/ team to work directly with guests are not there for the guests. These managers are there for their team and their team is there for the guests. Of course, they are there to make sure the guests are happy, but they need to take care of their tram first. Same goes to firms and companies with clients. These managers don’t deal directly with the clients so, but their employees do. I’m not the first one to say this. 

If you feel that your team owes you and that they are there for you, you are very very wrong my friend! YOU work for them. THEY don’t work for you. If your team is not successful, then you are definitely not successful either. The manager needs to be the one working more than his team, developing them, helping them, supporting and empowering them. And this can only be done when the manager is highly present, attentive to his team, guiding and leading them.

When managers think that they have the team to work for them, the guiding, leading, coaching amd empowering stops, and instead, you get an unhappy, overworked, scared of the boss kind of team. Show them you are there for them to help them be better, to succeed and to develop. Remember that the manager’s success relies on the employees’ success, happiness, advancement, empowerment and so much more.

I have always worked hard for my teams. They didn’t work for me. I WORKED FOR THEM. AND STILL DO.

Fit Fridays

Fit Fridays

Not all Sweet Treats are Bad for You

Fit For You Cupcakes

I really wanted to have a few cupcakes made for a Halloween Party but wanted to keep it extremely healthy. I found Fit For you Cupcakes advertised online and contacted renowned dietician Jessica Borg ghigo. I was immediatey given so many choices; Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose free and the list went on. All of them were sugar free by the way. I was invited to see her making them after I told her about my interest and my blog, and was advised of certain ingredients that she was using that had the same effects and result as other unhealthier ingredients.

Behold, the Halloween Cupcakes- Vegan and Gluten Free!

I got to know about how the water in the chickpea or broadbeans cans can solidify the same way as eggs, for example. We used vegan protein powder and coconut flour. All the other ingredients were as healthy and as effective, but I will let you ask her to make you some and then you will relaize.

She was making other cupcake orders in the meantime and it was fascinating to see the vast amount of different ingredients and requests. As she put some in the oven, the smell was so inviting, I couldn’t wait to try one! They all looked and smelled delicious.

We all get the urge for something sweet whether once in a while or many times a day. Truth is, that’s fine, as long as you choose your food well. There are always several parties to attend to or host every week, so why not enjoy a treat that will not affect your health and your waistline in a negative way! You can simply find Jessica Borg Ghigo on Facebook and tell her you want to order some delicious cupcakes and exchange numbers. Easy peasy!

Excuse me! But my 24 cupakes are ready, but I’m only taking 23 of them to my party…because one of them has just been devoured!! Mmmmhmmm yummylicious!!

Have a great and healthy weekend! x

Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Working with Guests and Customers- An Introduction

How to Deal with an extremely Irate Guest

If your work consists mostly of dealing and talking with guests and customers, then you have for sure at some point come across someone very upset, rude, or both. Most of the time it is because they are not happy with a service or product. After years of this experience, I will tell you now, that 98% of the time they are right to be upset and angry. But not directly at you (unless you really have done someting personal to the guests that affects them personally). And most of the time, they are genuine. It took me a few years to really have this embeded in me, until I had figured it out, mainly because of experience and different training sessions. And during that time, I would say, I pissed off a few guests with becoming angry because they were angry, didn’t beleive them, or made the situation worse. It didn’t happen a lot,  but I am not afraid to say it happened a few times in those few years. For me, now, that is unacceptable.

Today we will look at some of the many steps that the manager and the employee need to have run through theit thoughts whenever they are faced with a really upset guest or customer. We will go much more in depth in the blog sessions to come, but I wanted to briefly highlight a few of them today. Remember, how you respond can make the difference between a customer or guest that feels satisfied with the resolution and one who vows to never patronize your business again.

Steps:

The 1st step you need to take is to remain calm and poised. If this doesn’t happen or you loose it very fast, what follows is in vain. Believe me when I say this. It happened to me. As soon as you loose your cool, you are done. The next steps are very hard to achieve. If a guest is yelling, being loud, or otherwiese rude, nothing can be gained by responding in a similar manner. The customer’s tirade might make you ffel like yelling yourself, but don’t. Control yourself. Remember, it is not personal. They just need to let someone know and that someone is you, in your position. 

The 2nd step is to use your best lisening skills  and let them know you are truly listening. The first thign an angry customer or guest wants to do is vent, and to do so, you are there to listen. Listening patiently can diffuse a situation as long as they feel acknowledged. Body language is also very important. Miantain eye contact and a strong straight posture. This shows how closely you are paying attention to their problem. Take notes and don’t talk, let them talk. After they finish, repeat and summarize what they have said and ask if the information you gathered is correct. Be patient and aknowledge the guest’s right to be angry. 

The next big step, even though I have already mentioned it, is to NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Listen to their emotions without any of your emotions. It’s a very fine line and this is sometimes quite hard for many customer service agents to do and to realize, but if you work on it continuously, by time this becomes very easy for you. It’s a very fine line and this is sometimes quite hard for many customer service agents to do and to realize, but if you work on it continuously, by time this becomes very easy for you.

After these 4 steps, it is time for you to action.  There are a few more steps you need to take. Now that they have vented, you listened, you need to assist them, apologize and mean what you say and what you do.
Next Monday we will cover the next few steps, like sympathizing, empathizing, apologizing,  speaking softly, voicing your solution to the customer, owning it and taking responsibility. Stat tunes for thr continuation next week! Have a great and productive week.

Boosting Tuesdays

Boosting Tuesdays

The Island Sanctuary Dog Shelter in Delimara, Malta

A Great Day at the Open Day at the Island Sanctuary Dog Shelter

I was scared of dogs for almost 30 years of my life. Those that know me will tell you how petrified I had always been of dogs. Even when going to someone’s house, they would need to have the dogs be somewhere else when I was there because of my fear. About 2 years ago, I decided to face the fear, actually had to kind of force myself. My partner’s family had a dog, and I was going to be there a lot, so I had to do something about it. Not to bore you with the details, I fell in love with dogs. Well I always liked them and wanted to not be scared of them, but I couldn’t! My partner and I adoped a puppy a bit more than a year ago, and I cannot imagine my life without him. When I am working away on ships or anywhere where he is not, I really truly miss him!

Last Sunday I decided to go and visit the Open Day at the Island Sanctuary so I could visit the dogs and contribute to the donations. I took my niece with me, who had an amazing time by the way. The Kids area and the face painters were great! They took care of the kids, engaged with them, played games with them, rewarded them with gifts and so much more. The visitors could bring their dogs with them too. I had a chance to visit all the dogs and then spent some time speaking with the volunteers, workers, organizers and everyone that was sporting the yellow paw t-shirt.

There are many stray dogs, or sadly enough abandoned dogs everywhere in the world, and this Charity Organization works very hard everyday to contribute to these dogs in Malta. They know they could do more and take in even more dogs, with the help of every dog lover out there by donating, sponsoring or adopting a dog. The Island Sanctuary started more than 26 years ago and was first based in Manoel Island before moving to Tas- Silg. It was so amazing to see all the volunteers, so happy and so caring for all the dogs and this was their best event yet! They give their hearts to them and you could see how much the dogs loved them back. I wish that I could have taken one of them home with me, but since I am always in Malta for a short time only on my vacations, it would be unfair to them. But this guy below was so cute!

You can help the Island Sanctuary by donating, so that they can keep on taking more strays, take care of them and find them caring homes for them to give joy to. We all know how much joy a dog brings to the home. You could see how thankful the dogs were for being treated so nicely and also excited that they were seeing so many people visit them last Sunday. An SMS Donation is the easiest: 506173680 EU2.33, 50618082- EU4.66, 50618935- EU6.99. If you go to their website: http://www.islandsanctuary.com.mt  you can also become a member for as little as EU10.

The Island Sanctuary organizes many events throughout the year, and if you know anyone that would like to get a dog, urge them to go there and adopt not shop for a dog. This shelter for homeless and abandoned dogs is truly a blessing and their efforts need to be duly praised. You can also follow The Island Sanctuary Malta on facebook for their latest news, events and so much more. Remember! Adopt don’t Shop. These dogs deserve all the love in the world and they will surely give it back to you!


Boosting Tuesdays

Boosting Tuesdays

The Magnificent Boutique Hotel of The Saint John in the Heart of Valletta, Malta

Exploring all the Historic and Modern Wonders coming together



On a very quick stay in Malta, I wanted to be in the heart of Valletta, the island’s Capital. I wanted to sleep and wake up in that city, and that is why I chose to stay at the beautiful and elegant, freshly inuagurated The Saint John Boutique Hotel. I wanted a place were it was calm and quiet, had space to work, relax, feel pampered, create moments with my partner, and most of all, not need to get a car to go around Valletta. This place had them all checked!

After I took a moment to capture its beauty and history from the outside, all the way to the inside of the hotel, I went to check in at the reception, given the details and my RFID room key. I had some work to do first and wanted to have it ready fast so I could explore the beautiful hotel and then Valletta. As I entered the room, I had to take in a deep breath as this was the most amazing, welcoming, sophisticated yet with a home feeling kind of room. I also had to take a moment to test the mesmerizing technology that the room has. Don’t think that a historic building would not accomodate today’s modern technology, as this far exceeded many hotels that I had to stay in for work.

After a few minutes of letting this all sink in, I sat at the beautifully decorated and inviting desk. Working away, I had never felt happier doing my work, knowing that I had so much in store after that. I happily closed my laptop to start getting ready for the evening. The spacious and modern bathroom was so beautiful to see, that I didn’t even want to use it. But hey, a girl needs a nice warm shower and a few minutes to get dressed and prepare for the evening. Well.. maybe more than a few minutes. 

After I got dressed, I wanted to go round The Saint John and take some time to enjoy the beauty of the building, its construction and its decor. My partner had joined me and we set to roam around the hotel, then Valletta. The hotel experience had already elevated our exitement to the city, because we were staying in a part of it.

The elegant evening mood was set. It was then time to go eat. The Saint John has the Cheecky Monkey Gastropub attached to it, but as we had already tasted the delicious food at one of their locations, and they were pretty full due to its popularity, we decided to go walk around the city and then find a restaurant in the heart of Valletta. That is the beauty of The Saint John. You are right there, in the heart of it all! After a great evening, a great meal, a wonderful long stroll around the vivid and colorful streets of Valletta, we were ready to doze off in the large comfy bed in our elegant room.

We did go to Cheeky Monkey Gastropub in the morning as they serve breakfast there. We were spoilt for choice, and as we woke up a tad later than the rest of the guests occupying the hotel, we decided to have some fun with it. We even had quite a long conversation with the friendly Gastropub staff. The boutique hotel and the Cheecky Monkey Gastropub both make you feel at ease and that time is passing slow, so you can enjoy the moments. When you lead such a busy, hectic and sometimes stressful life like mine and my partner’s, we couldn’t stop wondering what a perfect choice this Boutique Hotel was for us to accomplish our work, enjoy each other’s company, relax and take it easy.

We got another cup of delicious coffee and took it to our room so we can enjoy it from our balcony. You really feel that you are one with the city and can hear and feel the different activities going on in Valletta, yet so quiet and peaceful to enjoy our moments together. We felt so lucky to be sharing the experience of The Saint John Boutique Hotel and Valletta. (We booked the balcony at The Saint John. Not all rooms have a balcony, but they do have large windows to make you feel more part of the building and the city)

We were then ready and energized to take on the city and explore more of what Valletta has to offer. Whether you are there for a short stay or a long stay, The Saint John Boutique Hotel elevates your vacation or getaway experience. Strategically located in the heart of Valletta, it is highly inviting to celebrate moments with your loved ones, to take some time to work, to relax and re-energize, explore and other amazing things. The place were you stay for your vacation or your getaway can make or break it. That’s why I am glad I chose The Saint John Boutique Hotel in Valletta. It totally made it!


Managing Mondays

Managing Mondays

Choosing Your Words Carefully- The “No Problem” word

How Great is your Communication to the Team and to your Guests?

There is a word in the Customer Service Business that I despise. It’s the word “No Problem”. Read it, Listen to it. It has 2 negative words in it. “No” and “Problem”. However, almost everywhere you go, as an example, if you ask a waiter for an item, or even simply ordering your food, many of them will say “No Problem”. Especially if it is a request, there is a 91% chance that you will get a “No Problem” back. When the waiter gets you your requested item and you say “Thank you”, there is a 96% chance that you will get a “No Problem” back. I have a little problem with it. Why?

I love to Conduct Training wherever I am, even if unscheduled and the teams always appreciate the extra assistance in making them better at what they do

If a customer or a guest requests something and you are able to do it or provide to them, they will most of the time say “Thank you”. They are genuinely thanking you for being able to enhance their experience or attending to their needs. When you are telling them ” No Problem”, it is like telling them: “It took a lot of effort for me, but I am working in this position and have to help you whether I like it or not, and because I have to do it, I did it, even though it would have been easier for me not to need to do it.” Instead, we need to be saying “Absolutely”. Wow, what an amazing word to say to a guest or a customer. “Absolutely, I want to do anything I can to make you happy or to provide you with what you need.”

Maybe some guests or customers don’t realize it is such a negative word, however there are many people in the customer service business like me, that notice these things. Why would you not want to say something better than “No Problem”. You need to sound friendlier and that you want to be there and want to make their experience better. You and only you are responsible for providing their comfort, their experience or their service. How we talk and what we say to the guests may affect them subconciously. By carefully choosing very positive words, responses and also basic communication to them, will definitely affect how they rate you when they need to. You need to think of each and every guest or customer as your most important guest or customer.

Teach and guide your Team with Interactive Training and Role Play

I always make sure to include a “How to Communicate better to your guests”- (What to say instead of), in my trainings whether it’s onboard the largest ships in the world that I work on most months in the year, or whether I am invited to do a few Customer Service lessons at renonwed Hotels and Boutique Hotels around the world. I dedicate an entire module on what words to say that sound extremely appealing and satisfying to your guests and customers. Another example is a sentence starting with “Unfortunately we don’t….” If a guest or a customer asks you for something or a service that is not possible or available, by starting off with he word “Unfortunately”, you have already lost a lot of the guests attention because without saying anything more, you are already telling them you cannot provide it to them and as the guest already knows they are not getting the service or the item they want, they can either get upset before you tell them something else, whether it is an alternative or another solution. They stop hearing you for just a little bit. I have experienced all of this by the way, and as soon as I started to learn more how to communicate to my guests, it improved me, my service and the company tremendously. Start with something positive. You need to tell them that their request is not possible, but there are some other alternative solutions to it. So ease into it. Start by, for example, “Although we are not able to provide your requested service, we do offer…” How much nicer do I sound here! Much Nicer!

Extremely Happy buy hearing one of my team members talk so professional and positive to our guests

There are a lot of details that I could get into here with alternative responses, however it would be an extremely long blog. If you are interested in getting hold of this type of training, email me on: captainfalzon@gmail.com and I will be happy to provide it to you. I am always available to help your teams become better team players and leaders, therefore providing better service to your guests and customers! Happy Monday. Manage well, Lead well!