Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tourism Ambassador Training Program Set to Launch this April

I have always said that delivering exceptional customer service is the key to succeeding in a competitive economic climate. Its up to everyone in an organization to put their best foot forward to impress clients. Happy clients are more likely to come back and spend more. Its that simple. As easy as it sounds, the delivery can be daunting and maintaining high levels even trickier. The other reality is that we all have limited time and budgets to upgrade skills, presenting another hurdle.
Creating positive first impressions on visitors to our city is part of an exceptional customer service attitude. Visitors taking a cab from the airport, eating at a local restaurant, checking into a hotel or fueling up are all likely to approach someone with a question or inquiry. It could be directions to an attraction, asking about live entertainment or simply wanting to know the major industries of the city. When people get a accurate answer to their question, delivered with a smile and enthusiasm for what the city offers, they will have a more positive experience.

Starting this spring, we will be offering a series of education workshops for front line service personell in the city, to encourage greater awareness of the city's attractions, events, legends, and economic initiatives that they can share with visitors to their establishments. We launched the business case March 17 to the Police Serivce Board and local media and were thrilled with the overwhelming positive response.

These condensed workshops, scheduled during weekdays, evenings and weekends, will provide basic customer service education with a general awareness of what makes Thunder Bay great. Participants will also receive copies of the Visitor Experience magazine, and quick fact sheets to take with them, providing them with simple tools to educate visitors. The program isn't some extensive, boring (and expensive) accredited and complicated educational program developed by teams of bureaucrats or academics. Its meant to minimize the time away from work for employees to be cost effective for employers, easy to follow, engaging and fun. And best of all, its being developed and delivered by folks who know the product and experiences best, Tourism Thunder Bay's team.

Participants will learn about major visitor attractions and locations, key annual events, local statistics and folklore and current positive economic developments such as health sciences, mining and manufacturing opportunities.

The free program will be delivered in a informal round table session at the Tourism Thunder Bay Administrative Center at Marina Park or can be brought to the workplace on request. We'll be posting the initial schedule of sessions soon and will be delivering the first programs sometime in late April. Our first focus will be providing training to local taxi drivers, than expanding the program to all interested workplaces and even citizens who want to brush up of city knowledge. The main goal of the program is to build pride in the city. Positive energy is infectious and more importantly, helps counter some of the negativity in the community, propagated by a small group of folks who just don't care enough to contribute to building the community.

Tourism Thunder Bay's responsibility is to market Thunder Bay as a great tourism destination for leisure, corporate, sport and group travel. However, it is everyones role in the community to be an ambassador and help share positive information and energy with visitors. It just makes good business sense.

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