‘Above and beyond’ no big deal for tourism award winner

By KRYSTLE CHOW
Published on the Ottawa Business Journal website.
Oct. 25, 2006

Ginette Pion, grand prize winner of the Ottawa Tourism Stars of the City campaignGinette Pion, grand prize winner of Ottawa Tourism’s Stars of the City campaign (Image supplied)

Ginette Pion never thought she would win an award for taking the time to help a customer get ready for a special event.

But Ms. Pion, who is the manager of the Femme de Carrière outlet in the Rideau Centre, walked away with the top prize in Ottawa Tourism’s Stars of the City campaign at last night’s award ceremony, as well as an award in the Above and Beyond category.

She was nominated for spending three hours helping a customer shop for the perfect outfit and accessories for a gala dinner, then going with the customer to look for shoes at another store in the mall, booking a hair appointment, and even driving the customer to the hairstylist and taking her new outfit to be tailored in time for the event.

“The only thing I can say is: wow. I’m overwhelmed,” Ms. Pion says, adding that she doesn’t actually remember the woman who nominated her because she and her staff regularly help out customers in the same manner.

“I always teach my staff to go above and beyond… I’d like people to do the same for me,” she says.

She explains that she often takes tourists and people who aren’t familiar with the Rideau Centre around the mall and goes on her own time to drop off altered outfits at customers’ homes, even driving to Montreal once to hunt for a white suit for a customer’s wedding.

Ms. Pion says she didn’t think she had a chance, especially after attending another Stars of the City awards ceremony with a friend three years ago.

“I didn’t see a lot of people in retail nominated… I was surprised,” she adds, noting that many of the nominees were from the hotel and food industries.

“I don’t have to (go above and beyond), but I want to so that people come back to Ottawa,” Ms. Pion says. “I mean, why not? Does it hurt me? No… The smile on (the customer’s) face is the best reward.”

Ms. Pion received a crystal star tower award, $500 in Jubilee Fine Jewellers gift certificates and a trip for two to a resort destination courtesy of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association. Her story will also be featured on promotional materials for the program over the next year.

Jamie Harland, membership co-ordinator for Ottawa Tourism, says the Stars of the City program has grown by 51 per cent since last year, receiving 562 nominations in total from September 2005 to September 2006.

“(The nominees) are a great representation of our region’s stars, and they give a great example for how tourists and residents can benefit from participating in our tourism industry by going to a restaurant or visiting a festival, because they’ll receive good service,” she says.

The other winners included:

  • Karl James – Comfort Inn Ottawa East
    • What’s Lost is Found category, sponsored by Rideau Centre
  • Martin Lee – Chimo Hotel Ottawa
    • Go the Extra Mile category, sponsored by the Ottawa International Airport
  • Colain Valiquette – Hilton Lac-Leamy
    • Host with the Most category, sponsored by the National Gallery of Canada
  • Roxane Dompierre – Hilton Lac-Leamy
    • Healthy and Safety category, sponsored by the Ontario Service Safety Alliance
  • George Oda
    • Good Citizen category, sponsored by the Ottawa Citizen
  • Serge Bedard – Gray Line of Ottawa
    • Evening Star category, sponsored by the Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Westin Ottawa
    • Star Property category, sponsored by Ottawa Hotels of the Westmont Hospitality Group

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