Caribbean Airlines is jointly owned by the people of Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, and currently with an operational base in Jamaica. Operating more than 1000 weekly return flights to destinations in the Caribbean, North and South America, and domestic flights. Caribbean Airlines employs approximately 1700 people. Established on September 27, 2006, Caribbean Airlines Limited took to the skies on January 01, 2007, providing passenger and cargo services.
Partnering with IATA Training to develop and implement a wide-scale training program, Caribbean Airlines has fostered efficiency and innovation, raising the bar for service quality in the region.
When our CEO Garvin Medera took leadership of the company in 2017, a new strategic direction was introduced that focused on the efficiency of service, growing our airline and making it more profitable. A key component of this plan is focusing on employee development. We believe that goal-oriented employees, that identify with our vision and mission, and have the skills to realize them, make for a successful and sustainable company. Our strategic people objective is to ensure that our staff have the requisite knowledge and skills to do their jobs, are up to date with industry best practices, and have the opportunity for growth in their careers.
Investing in employee growth is an effective retention strategy, and we began in 2022 by identifying training needs and aligning our learning and development goals with our strategic plan, in addition to identifying career paths through our Talent Management initiatives.
In addition to the above, strategies were focused on improving customer satisfaction as well as revenue generation, driving sales through diversified product offerings and strengthened pricing. Another area was to improve the efficiency of key organizational processes, making them leaner and more agile.
To meet these needs, our training activities had to be designed to give key staff a more in-depth appreciation of the factors that must be considered when making decisions. Some personnel needed specific understanding, for example, of revenue-management systems. Others needed a more comprehensive understanding of how an airline works, beyond their domain of expertise. We were also looking for a training provider that would work with us in open communication, to ensure our unique training needs were met, including flexibility in terms of delivery and payment, as well as high-quality, proven programs that strongly engage trainees.
As a diverse organization, we partner with many training providers. We chose IATA as a main provider for several reasons, the first being its industry-specific offering and the breadth of programs available. Among these are simulation-based courses, and we were especially interested in enabling experiential learning for our employees. With business simulation, as with a flight simulator, employees have the opportunity to try, make corrections and get it right. They won’t land on their nose, so it’s a most valuable tool.
IATA is also renowned for its expertise in training and the excellent classroom experience it provides. Additionally, as we were coming out of the pandemic, many courses were available in the virtual classroom format, which would give our employees the opportunity to mix with people from all over the globe, sharing experiences and discovering new perspectives.
Finally, we had an existing strong and open relationship with the IATA Training team. The advice and guidance we received from them was essential in helping us define the courses that best fit our needs. We really appreciated their flexibility in working with us. They were willing to work with our schedule, adapt modules according to our needs, and come up with the most cost-efficient programs. It can sometimes be difficult to coordinate schedules in large organizations, and having the option of customized virtual in-house courses, with content tailored to our participants and enabling maximum time efficiency, was a deciding factor for us.
Knowledgeable, collaborative, patient, and extremely supportive, our IATA Training advisors steered us toward two diploma programs. The Airline Management Diploma was recommended to give our non-aviation-specialized executives a practical understanding of the operations and management of an airline, and how this information can be used to support decisions.
To meet our revenue management objectives, they recommended the Revenue Management Diploma. We also opted for courses that are part of each diploma program, to not only meet our strategy objectives, but also maintain cost efficiency.
In all, well over 200 people were enrolled in 54 IATA Training courses in 2022, with close to 64 courses to be scheduled in 2023 for over 250 employees. In addition to the diploma courses, employees updated their knowledge on a wide variety of subjects, such as cargo, including dangerous goods, live animals, and temperature-controlled cargo; fares, ticketing and payment; risk management, emergency response, and human factors. Several train-the-trainer courses, including Instructional Design and Competency-based Training and Assessment, will also help us to further operationalize our employee development commitment.
The feedback from our employees supports our initial impressions. They found the LIVE virtual classroom platform a good medium for training and appreciated the mix of technical information and practical application of what they learned. In particular, the simulations allowed for a better understanding of the processes, roles and functions, and the impact of making decisions in a timely manner. For example, the Revenue Management Simulation was mentioned as being of great help in better forecasting outcomes. The simulation module was also considered enlightening, and of real value in understanding how to respond to an emergency. Additionally, those employees who were in classroom groups with people from other companies and parts of the world, appreciated the insight gained, expressly mentioning that they enjoyed learning from their counterparts. On a scale of one to five, we would rate the quality of the training we received as the highest score of five.
The Airline Management Diploma courses proved very beneficial in providing our executives with a broad overview of the airline industry. This program exposed them to how the various facets of an airline come together, and how their functions affect other areas of the organization, which will consequently improve decision-making. In 2022, four members of our executive management team completed the Airline Management Diploma:
With regard to revenue management, our teams have seen their efforts boosted. Building on the market-centric groundwork they had already laid before the pandemic, and using the knowledge they acquired through the Revenue Management Diploma, they have introduced new products and services that really make Caribbean Airlines stand out as the leading airline in the region. These include our flexible payment plan, ‘Caribbean Layaway’, introduced in response to findings from data research that show some markets are heavily cash-driven. Other products are ‘Your Space’, enabling passengers to buy additional seats for more space; and ‘Caribbean Upgrade’, enabling Economy passengers to “bid” on a seat in Business, offering their own price and awaiting acceptance. All these innovations have arisen from a more focused approach to revenue management, and our revenues increased by 54% in 2022. Additionally, our Net Promoter Score (NPS) has improved significantly, showing how much our customers appreciate it. We went from an NPS of 37 in the first quarter of 2022 to 45 a year later, surpassing our strategic goal of 41. As we move to another stage of our development, and a new strategic plan with even greater focus on growth, the team’s recent training will be invaluable, and our objective is to push the NPS into the 50s within the next two years.
For the organization as a whole, the training programs have allowed executives and managers to assess our performance against industry standards and focus their efforts with regard to process efficiency. For example, our cargo division has successfully implemented new and proactive measures to decrease customer complaints. The IATA courses have also helped us implement a more strategic approach to our training and relevant frameworks to support excellence in both operations and employee development. We have seen that employee development is even more effective as a strategy when we partner with institutions like IATA, because the international recognition of its qualifications lends weight to the message that we want to invest in our people. It brings everyone on board, and our employee satisfaction and engagement statistics improved by 6% in 2022. Moving forward, we will continue to build and sustain our relationship with IATA, looking at how we can continue to link training to our strategic objectives. We see this collaboration as an exchange that not only elevates the quality of Caribbean Airlines’ service, delivered by well-trained employees but one that also raises the aviation standards in our region and sub-region. The knowledge our staff gain makes our company an employer of choice and airline of choice. And that is worth pursuing.
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