A Lord Elgin Hotel employee has been recognized for his above-and-beyond customer service with Ottawa Tourism’s 2011 Star of the City award.
Marc Cousineau, Centretown News
Paul Norris, who won the Star of the City tourism award, helps guests at the Lord Elgin Hotel.
Paul Norris, a guest service supervisor at the historic Centretown hotel, was presented with the annual award at a special gala on Oct. 26 after being selected by a panel of judges from a field of 22 finalists.
The Star of the City awards recognize those in Ottawa’s tourism industry who provide real-life examples of excellence in customer service, says Caroline Couture-Gillgrass, communications co-ordinator for Ottawa Tourism.
“The program itself is really good for encouraging front-line staff to go above and beyond. It gives them incentive with the hope that maybe sometime they’ll be recognized,” she says, noting this is the 16th year Ottawa Tourism has hosted the awards.
Residents and tourists nominate people who they feel deserve recognition for their interactions with the public, says Couture-Gillgrass. These include hotel workers, restaurant employees, and taxi drivers.
This time, Ottawa Tourism received 1,052 nominations from 89 local businesses, she says.
In February, Norris got a call from a local restaurant, saying a student who was staying at the Lord Elgin had been separated from his tour group when they left to go skating on the Rideau Canal. Norris retrieved the student and then went out to the crowded canal to reunite him with his group.
“What struck me about Paul’s story was that he not only went above and beyond to help out a visitor, but that his effort aided an unaccompanied minor who might have otherwise been in a fair amount of distress,” says judge Noel Buckley, president and CEO of Ottawa Tourism. Norris says the honour was unexpected and that he was just doing his job.
“I hadn’t even considered the possibility (of an award). As soon as they told me that a student was left behind and that the group was out on the canal, it was just something that had to be done,” he says.
Norris received Rideau Centre gift certificates and an all-inclusive tropical trip for two.
Norris, however, is only one of many tourism industry employees recognized through the awards. Another Lord Elgin employee, Christopher Ward, was selected as a finalist for helping a group of Australian tourists whose canoe had overturned on the Ottawa River, soaking all their belongings. He helped them dry their wet clothes, replace their damaged passports and salvage the photos from their damaged camera.
Kristine Thomas, of the Minto Hospitality Group, a firm that manages several rental properties in Centretown, was also a finalist.
She worked to make a guest’s family Christmas memorable by arranging for them to use a larger suite to celebrate the holidays. She even set up the suite with decorations from her own home, Thomas says.
“I think that in this day and age, we as people, as consumers, are really expecting to be disappointed. We don’t expect to get the level of service that we hope for and I think that’s a sad thing,” Thomas says. “By recognizing the people that do give good service, I hope it inspires others to recognize that we’re all in need of just being treated well.”
Other Centretown finalists included Gaston Roussy, of the National Arts Centre, Oana Marasescu, of Ottawa Marriott Hotel and Bernadette Marcotte, of Albert at Bay Suite Hotel.