Seychelles Tourism Board hosts successful ‘train and cook’ sessions for tour operator partners in South Africa

The Seychelles Tourism Board office in South Africa recently organized three ‘train and cook’ sessions for three of its main tour operator partners on the market.

The initiative provided the perfect setting for further networking and exchange of information, not only about Seychelles as a potential holiday destination, but also about two of the island nation’s unique factors -- food and culture.

Thompsons Holidays, Holiday Factory and Flight Centre were the three partners invited to join STB South Africa for the ‘train and cook’ sessions, aimed at training their top performing consultants and agents, but in a less formal setting.

Destination training was first on the agenda, followed by an hour of cooking several traditional Creole dishes of Seychelles. The sessions were held at the 'Taste Buds' cooking school and the participants worked in pairs to cook various dishes, guided by recipes taken from a Seychelles cook book, but slightly adapted based on the availability of the necessary ingredients in South Africa.

Grilled fish, chicken curry, smoked fish salad, octopus salad, moringa leaves cooked as a traditional broth with fish [bouyon bred mouroum], mango salad, and ripe bananas sliced and cooked with coconut milk and sugar [ladob bannann] featured on the menu.

Supervised by a chef from Taste Buds while they cooked, the participants were also occasionally guided by the Director of the Seychelles Tourism Board Office in South Africa, Lena Hoareau, as they were not always familiar with some of the ingredients.

At the end of each session, the participants were invited to enjoy the dishes they had worked so hard to prepare. They all described the sessions as highly-interactive and fun, adding that they had a great time learning more about the island destination.

Mrs Hoareau said the event was a great success, adding that the sessions turned out better than expected, and has stirred up new interest in the destination.

“We do a lot of trainings and workshops on the market and last year we had one of those ‘train and cook’ sessions as a trial, which turned out really well and the agents felt that they were better informed. So this year, we included three more on our programme of activities and once again, we are very happy with the outcome,” said Mrs Hoareau.

“For the 2017 sessions, the tour operator partners chose their top performing consultants or agents for the Seychelles market, first as an incentive and second, to equip them with more knowledge of the destination, in a bid to ensure more sales and business,” she added.

Contrary to round table training where the agents would normally go back to their work stations after being trained, the ‘train and cook’ sessions prompted a different kind of atmosphere, mainly of networking, with Seychelles being the main focus.

Mrs Hoareau remarked that since the focus was on Seychelles, there were many more questions flowing around the room, compared to what they would normally have in a formal training session.

“We had a great setting for the sessions which created a fun atmosphere where everyone felt at ease to ask questions, talk about the kind of queries they get about the Seychelles and also share different experiences they come across while selling the destination to their clients. It was a very good opportunity for me to chat with everyone and explain the specifics of selling Seychelles, as opposed to selling other island destinations,” she said.

Representatives of Air Seychelles, which flies to Johannesburg five times a week, were also invited to attend the event to take up queries about the airline. All participants left the sessions better informed and more eager to sell the destination.

Photo montage from the Seychelles train and cook sessions in SA