Meet Alvin Woon, Team Lead (Sales) of DFS Changi Airport
If you haven’t already heard, DFS at Changi Airport is the first travel retail space in the world to receive The Whisky Ambassador’s Venue Accreditation – selected employees undergo extensive training specially designed by DFS University (DFS’ very own learning and development programme), to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence to engage customers with Scotch whisky. Changi Journeys chats with Alvin Woon, Team Lead (Sales) at DFS’ newest wines and spirits duplex store at T2, to find out more.
We heard that you’re one of the few certified Whisky Ambassadors in Singapore – tell us more!
(Laughs) Of the 16 certified Whisky Ambassadors deployed across the terminals at DFS Changi Airport, I’m one of the seven certified trainers of this programme. Of course, this number is set to increase. The Whisky Ambassador programme is the UK’s only accredited training course focused solely on whisky – we educate participants on how whisky is made, the history of the drink, the economic impact and culture of whisky, as well as customer service.
What does your job entail, and what do you enjoy most?
Besides day-to-day business and operations management, one of our priorities is people development and in-house skills training – both in subject-matter knowledge and customer experience. I enjoy customer service, which explains why I’m in this line instead of a desk-bound job. I enjoy interacting with people and exciting them about whiskies. In the past 12 years, I met a lot of customers-turned-loyal customers-turned-friends, many of whom I still keep in touch with, and catch up over whiskies occasionally.
What is your most memorable encounter to date?
Just this year, there was a customer who came up to The Whisky House looking for McDonald’s, but instead, but he got attracted by my sharing with another customer and requested to join in. The group soon got bigger and he shared with me later that he really enjoyed the session and wished he had checked-in earlier to learn more – that was particularly heartwarming.
What is one common misconception people have about whisky?
I recently went on a learning trip to Islay in Scotland, famed for its Islay whisky. Traditionally, most Islay whiskies tend to be smokier and give off a medicinal smell, which some might even liken to Dettol. Certainly not appealing to most. The surprising thing in Islay was that none of us could smell that – even the non-Islay whisky-lovers were converted, and thoroughly enjoyed the flavours of their new found favourite. It was interesting to experience firsthand how the taste of whisky changes according to the environment.
Lastly, what is your go-to whisky?
I have tried close to all the (300!) whiskies that DFS has brought in… it’s a tough call. Because I’m born in the year of the Monkey, I would say I lean towards the Monkey Shoulder – a blended malt Scotch whisky that has both spicy and fruit nodes. Smooth, sweet and very easy to drink, just on its own.