Porjai Chaiwongyart, or ‘Nuk’, is our Operations Team Leader for Chiang Mai, Thailand. She spent over two months in Cancun, Mexico, recently to support Operations training and guidance for the local team there. Why send Nuk all the way to Mexico? Simply, she’s very good at what she does and has years of experience (she’s been with us since 2011). Her expertise has been valuable in guiding our team here as they prepare to operate more and more Discova operated, multi-day itineraries and train new guides and drivers as business grows.
Find out what Mexico can and will deliver operationally, and what Nuk learned about our team and Mexico along the way.
Three years ago, Olympus and Buffalo Tours merged to form what we are today. That meant pulling together two businesses in two different parts of the world. Nuk is part of our on-going effort to maintain and continuously improve global standards and cohesion across our Americas and Asia destinations.
“There were three main purposes to my visit here. One, was to review the processes of the Reservations Operations team. The focus is really on efficiency, consistency and our one-best-way procedures. Two, was to support the training of the Reservations team, as well as tour guides and drivers. Three, since our teams in Mexico are currently experiencing a growing market demand for our Discova-operated multi-day tours, we wanted to bring in some of our Asia expertise to help train and coach our Mexican colleagues.”
“We have 31 vehicles in Mexico, and we have 37 drivers to match that. We will hire more, as we’re looking to add 10 more vehicles. As for the tour guides, we’ve always outsourced these. So now I’m here to build up the pool of our own guides. We’ve recently hired four very knowledgeable and experienced guides. We just trained them – two men and two women. And we definitely want and need to build the pool.”
“The guides we have trained so far have been very impressed with us as they got to know us better. They’ve said they like our policies, processes, and our mission and vision. I was also happy to hear how interested they are in sustainability and responsible travel, without even being prompted about it.”
“We’ve also had our first female driver here [Reina]. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s pretty significant here. I haven’t seen many women drivers in public transport. I would like to see more and more gender equality in our business, and because it’s not necessarily normal here to see women drivers, it’s all the more celebrated.”
“Customer service, whether in Asia or America, is what we’re best at. However, we probably think differently about it in each region. For me it’s about finding one best, global way. And that’s why we have now promoted Ha Lo to Global Operations Discipline Leader [she started out with us in 2007 as a Direct Sales Executive].
She’ll be the one to lead the consistent implementation of the same processes, same structure and excellent service delivery, globally. It means no matter in which destination, our clients and their travellers can expect the same, reliable quality and customer service standards. Having someone in this role creates greater accountability and efficiency.”
“Our Asia destinations and Americas destinations each have their own team cultures. I think the next big step is to merge these cultures, and build up our global company culture even stronger. Then we can deliver these one best ways and procedures even better.
At the moment the number one thing Mexico can learn from the Asia teams is operating those multi-day tours I’m here to train them on. But, this business is growing fast here and the team is hungry to learn and adapt to that growth.”
“I’ve learned to adapt and to get along with people from different cultures and language backgrounds. While people here [in Mexico] generally seem more direct and open in social settings than Thai people, for e.g., it’s the other way round in the office [Nuk laughed at this]. They’re actually more reserved in the office, so I needed to approach things differently and ask a lot of questions.”
“The language barrier was the biggest challenge for me here. Most people in the office can speak English, but not all, and I needed to learn Spanish! But luckily it wasn’t that difficult, because I can speak French, and there are some similarities there.
I am a foodie girl. So my favourite experience here was trying all the local food and learning about all these new dishes. In Thailand all I ever tried was quesadillas! I’m lucky to be here and get to try the authentic version, and every day I try something new.”
(All the food-related photos Nuk posted on our company’s Workplace group proved the above)
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