Prime Minister Perry Christie officially opened Island Outsourcers Call Center on thursday in the Trehl Plaza on West Atlantic Drive in downtown Freeport.
The newly established Island Outsourcers Call Center is anticipated to become a national “supermarket” for the Bahamian tourism product, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Christie served as the keynote speaker for the Island Outsourcers’ official opening ceremony last Thursday, where he hailed the center as the beginning of the outsourcing industry and call centers in The Bahamas.
While addressing an assembly of dignitaries outside of the call center’s location at the Trehl Plaza, Christie shared his projections that Island Outsourcers will grow to become more than just an information center.
” This Bahamas telemarketing center is envisioned to grow into a supermarket for Bahamas tourism products not limited just to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism with the ability to… give information, but growing into a full scale fulfillment center for all Bahamas products, including the engagement of the center as an extension of tour operator services,” he said.
Christie revealed that the center is expected to serve as an outpost for Bahamasair to promote its new air services to potential customers in the United States.
” The telemarketing center will be a satellite call center for the new Bahamasair/Ministry of Tourism air service to sell vacation packages and provide the necessary support to customers of this new tour operation from the eight U.S. cities from where they will provide new non-stop jet service,” Christie added.
In time, he said, Island Outsourcers will grow to become a service that all tourism-related businesses can benefit from.
The call center also boasts the advantage of providing jobs for a number of locals who were previously unemployed, Christie noted.
Presently, Island Outsourcers employs 65 Bahamians, but call center officials expect this number to increase by hundreds before this year’s end.
Addressing the call center’s current employees, the prime minister urged them to provide their best possible service to ensure the center operates in excellence.
” Success for the call center will mean success for our tourism industry and, by extension, economic success for all the people of the Bahamas,” Christie said.
He added, “I am optimistic that 2014 will mark a major turnaround and renaissance in the Grand Bahama economy.”
In his remarks, Island Outsourcersâ Chief Executive Officer Yoni Epstein expressed similar sentiments.
The Jamaican-native, who first established Island Outsourcers in Montego Bay, said that he has every intention to facilitate the development of Island Outsourcers in Grand Bahama.
According to Epstein, the island is suitable for this growth for a number of reasons, one being the islandâ s human capital.
” Freeport has the eagerness to set up an industry; the cultural affinity to the U.S. and Canada, top level technology…competitive wages, low cost of doing business, and more importantly, The Bahamas is very, very similar to Jamaica. It has a long-standing history in hospitality,” he said.
Epstein expressed confidence that the call center staff is trained to provide quality customer service and handle customer sales.
In fact, the call center employees underwent four weeks of training, including classes at BahamaHost, which covered product knowledge training and customer service training.
Additionally, the employees participated in a mini-trade show and various on-island tours to become better acquainted with the tourism product.
However, with 65 people employed at Island Outsourcers, Epstein is shy of his goal of 100 full-time employees.
” (For) phase one, we wanted to get to 100 full-time employees, which we’re just about three quarters the way there,” Epstein said. “We’ll achieve that by the end of the first quarter.”
By the end of the year, Epstein said, Island Outsourcers will seek to take on 300 full-time employees.
Of the 65 Island Outsourcers’ employees, about 30 of them are call agents who have been trained to provide information about all the islands of The Bahamas and deliver accurate answers concerning travel and tourism inquiries.
These call agents take or make between 60-80 calls, per individual, during one workday, Epstein said.
Operations from Island Outsourcers went live on December 16.
The call center has assumed the job initially performed by the Ministry of Tourism’s call center based in Miami, Florida.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, who was also on hand for the affair, described the call center as a step in the right direction toward the rejuvenation of Grand Bahama.
” We can cause this call center to become an entrance to The Bahamas and change the entire complexion of this island of Grand Bahama and certainly of our commonwealth,” Wilchcombe said.
He expressed hope that Freeport will become a business hub, particularly for offshore business and tourism.
” Grand Bahama sits on the precipice of a new day. A day when we will see new things happen for Grand Bahama,” he said.
” Employment levels will rise and we will see a Grand Bahama that churns and becomes that place it must be in our commonwealth.”