If anyone knows about exemplary customer service, it’s Yolanta Malkovska.
A tasting bar host at 8th Generation Vineyards in Summerland, Malkovska won the 2017 BC Tourism Industry Customer Service Award. The province’s highest customer service accolade, the award recognizes a frontline tourism employee who creates outstanding travel experiences for visitors. That’s certainly true of Malkovska, who’s been making visits to the family-run winery unforgettable since 2007.
Malkovska, 60, started at the vineyard before opening day, applying her interior design skills to the tasting room. Since then, her job has grown from serving customers to playing a role in virtually every part of the business.
“I’ve been here from day one – I’m involved with everything that needs to be done at the winery, from the tasting room and wine shop to private tastings and special events,” she says.
The winery is a natural fit for the outgoing Malkovska. Originally trained in fashion design in her native Poland, she has been involved in retail and customer service since arriving in Vancouver in 1982. A stint in Tofino, working with a vacation rental firm and later operating her own property management company, drew her into the tourism industry. A move to Summerland (“I wanted more dry land,” she quips) led to a meeting with winery owners Stefanie and Bernd Schales and a new career in the wine industry.
Malkovska works full time most of the year, but has time for hobbies (especially painting) and travel during the winter.
She clearly loves her job: “It helps that we have amazing wine and a beautiful new tasting room. We also have owners with a lot of integrity and pride in what they do and a fabulous team of various ages.”
The younger staff members are fantastic, but the baby boomers have a lot to offer too, observes Malkovska. “We have more life experience, we can read people and understand what they need, and we have more patience. We are also in a position in life where we are more relaxed and we pass that lightness on to customers.”
It goes both ways: jobs have a lot to offer baby boomers too. “Most of the boomers on the team don’t really need to work, but they like the social interaction and the opportunity to learn new things – and in the wine world there’s no end to how much you can learn,” she says.
“Ultimately, working with people is fun and rewarding, especially when they’re on holiday. When you see people leave with a smile, or you see them come back because they enjoyed it so much the first time, you realize that you can make a real difference for people.”