Mar 11, 2015

The Ann Arbor Area and Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) are pleased to announce a new training and certification program available to Washtenaw County tourism and hospitality employees, community volunteers, and other interested individuals. Upon completing the program, attendees will receive the designation Certified Tourism Ambassador™ (CTA).

“The primary role of the Convention and Visitors Bureaus is to support Washtenaw County’s tourism and hospitality industry by attracting visitors to the area through marketing and group sales,” said Mary Kerr, President and CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (AAACVB). “This program is just one way for us to turn our focus locally and provide frontline employees and volunteers with an opportunity for career and personal development.”

In addition to career development, the program advocates employee retention by cultivating a highly engaged workforce within Washtenaw County’s tourism industry. Working to maintain that engagement, the program will also coordinate industry networking events and provide access to area attractions so individuals can experience them first hand.

“The program’s goal is to empower our frontline employees which will translate to an enhanced visitor experience,” said Kerr. “For example, by experiencing area attractions first-hand, frontline employees can confidently make more recommendations. The program trains employees to ask questions about the traveling party—such as how people are traveling, their ages and interests—in order to make more personalized recommendations.”

The AAACVB first started exploring the program in 2013 while curriculum development began late last year through the Tourism Ambassador Institute® (TAI), the accrediting body for the CTA program. Nationwide, more than 10,000 CTAs have earned the designation to date with new international programs coming online in 2015.

“The Ypsilanti Area CVB board and staff are excited to join the Ann Arbor Area CVB in offering this nationally recognized tourism ambassador program to frontline staff throughout Washtenaw County. We are confident that that as a result of these efforts, we will be described as the friendliest, most welcoming area in the country!”

Mickey Schaefer, TAI founder, was the keynote speaker at the AAACVB Annual Meeting which occurred the morning of March 10. She spoke to an audience of tourism and hospitality professionals about the value of reinvesting in frontline staff. “The premise is simple. If frontline employees and volunteers provide quality service to visitors, the visitor is more likely to have a positive experience. Visitors who have a positive experience are more likely to return at some point in the future. And, they will share their perceptions with their friends.  Everyone benefits—visitors, hospitality workers and their employers, and the local and regional economies.”

Officially known as The Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Area Tourism Ambassador Program, classes will cost $25 to attend, but many employers are considering subsidizing the cost. For more information about the program, contact the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti program facilitator Danielle Fergus at dfergus@annarbor.org or visit CTANetwork.com.

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