Service heroes honoured at Tourism Richmond Service Awards

When you’re having a bad day there is nothing like the kindness of a stranger to put a smile back on your face.

The 5th annual Tourism Richmond Service Awards, held at the River Rock Casino Resort on Wednesday, celebrated a group of people who aim to make other peoples’ lives better every time they go to work by providing superior service.

“The idea of the program is to raise the bar of customer service,” said Ed Gavsie, the director of visitor and partner services at Tourism Richmond.

“You may remember the meal for a day or two but you will always remember when you received superior service,” he said.

From a man who drove from Richmond all of the way to Chilliwack to return a customer’s lost set of keys to a woman who makes sure she keeps her customers in the loop on their favourite products, all of the winners and nominees have provided service above and beyond expectations.

The event, themed Up-Up and Away – Taking Service to New Heights, emphasized how providing exceptional service to customers can really make a difference.

This was something each of the eight winners have discovered first hand, but possibly none more so than Madelyn Turqueza from Marquise at YVR who found a man’s wallet in a garbage can.

“It’s my favourite story because of the honesty and the diligence of finding the wallet,” said Gavsie.

The man was ecstatic to hear that his wallet had been found as he was just about to go through the process of replacing all of his cards.

“It sort of made his Christmas,” Gavsie said.

The winners were chosen by a panel of four judges, none of whom were from organizations that had nominees.

This year, the number of nominations grew and included eight nominees, three of whom won, from organizations that had never had a nominee before.

Anyone who works in Richmond can be nominated throughout the year for a service award online at

The winners and nominees were:

•Service Excellence in Accommodation Award: Kevin Cohen, River Rock Resort. Kevin Cohen went out of his way to purchase a big teddy bear with hearts on it for a little girl who had heart surgery. She and her family were staying at River Rock through the David Foster Foundation. His thoughtfulness brought happiness to the little girl and her family. He has purchased colouring books, crayons and puzzles and has been giving them away to little ones staying at the resort and to those waiting in the lobby.

Also nominated: Manjinder Gill, Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel;  Sheena Brooks, Accent Inns Vancouver Airport Hotel.

•Service Excellence in Attractions Award: Ray Rulton, River Rock Casino Resort. A guest from Chilliwack called from his home to enquire about his car keys that may have left behind at the casino the night before. Ray Rulton found a set of car keys that matched the description and personally delivered the keys to the guest’s front door.

Also nominated: Mike Mead, River Rock Casino Resort; Linda Gordon, River Rock Casino Resort.

•Service Excellence Food and Beverage: Kristy Krull, Harold’s Bistro at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport. Kristy Krull was chosen because the judges received many nominations for her, more than any other F&B nominee in the category. Said one nominator: “We love Kristy. Beyond excellent. She is very attentive. We are truly spoiled here and that’s why we keep coming back.”

Also nominated: Chris Lam, Starbucks, Chapters at Ackroyd Rd.; Bill Lymberopoulos, Monterey Greek Taverna.

•Retail & Service Award: Andrea Divecha, Hudson’s Bay Company – Richmond Centre. According to one nominator: “Andrea called me last week to let me know about an upcoming promotion in her department. I had no idea this was happening. She knew me and welcomed me when I arrived. She knows her products well. As she was ringing up my sale she mentioned there was a shoe sale on and I could save an additional 15% on that as well. She is very honest, friendly, knowledgeable and eager to assist.”

Also nominated: Helen Malik, Hudson’s Bay Company – Richmond Centre; Emi Higuchi, Richmond Centre Customer Service.

•Transportation and Travel: Madelyn Turqueza, Marquise at YVR. Said her nominator: “On a recent flight, I lost my wallet. I was in the process of cancelling all my credit cards and replacing my Driver’s License, Nexus card and other lost identification.  You can imagine how delighted I was to receive a call from YVR that an alert janitor had retrieved my wallet from a garbage can and returned it.”

Also nominated: Maggie Lee, Budget Rent a Car – Richmond;  Jeanne Karcz, Harbour Air; Cindy Banton, Harbour Air.

•The Tourism Partner Award: Vancouver Airport Authority. This organization encourages tourism in our community through many initiatives. It is innovative, award winning and take an active role in growing tourism for Richmond.

•Tourism Spirit Award: Bruce Rozenhart. Bruce Rozenhart was honoured for his behind-the-scenes work in getting the Canada Line project approved.

•Extra Mile Award: Mandy Biasutti, Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel. Said her nominator: “My husband and I were on our way to an Alaskan cruise. We arrived at your airport about 4 pm. A delayed flight, missed connection in Chicago and lost luggage that we later discovered had preceded us, made for a long day when we arrived at the Fairmont Airport reception desk. We were told by our tour representative to walk to the Fairmont in the airport. Mandy Biasutti was on duty. Mandy phoned two other Fairmont Hotels but there was no reservation for us.  Mandy was so helpful in trying to calm me down. She gave each of us a bottle of water and tried to call our tour company representative. She came to the hotel dining room to reassure us that she would call us when our luggage arrived. It finally arrived at 1:30 am and was delivered to us at 6:00 am.  The hotel picked up our dinner tab of soup and pizza. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t hold back the tears!  After reaching our tour representative at 6:30 in the morning, we checked out and took a taxi to our correct hotel.”

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