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Certified Tourism Ambassador classes now offered in Grand Rapids | Business

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Certified Tourism Ambassador classes now offered in Grand Rapids
Certified Tourism Ambassador classes now offered in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Experience Grand Rapids, the official destination marketing organization for Kent County, has announced the launch of the new Grand Rapids Certified Tourism Ambassador program.

This nationwide certification program serves to increase tourism by training and inspiring front-line hospitality employees and volunteers to work together to turn every visitor encounter into a positive experience.

“The history, culture and entertainment value found in Grand Rapids guarantees to provide a wonderful memorable moment in time that convention attendees and visitors are sure to remember, but it is the people of Grand Rapids that really make a difference in delivering the experience,” said Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small. “The CTA program will support our front-line employees and other touch points to share the story of our city in order to provide the visitor with the best possible experience.”

Administered through the Tourism Ambassador Institute, the Certified Tourism Ambassador program is a nationwide certification with more than 8,000 ambassadors located in 15 states. Destinations such as Anaheim, Orange County, Dallas, Lexington, Baltimore and many more are using the Certified Tourism Ambassador program as a competitive advantage in selling their destination, as do attractions and other entities. Hundreds of Certified Tourism Ambassadors were trained to host the 2011 NFL Super Bowl in North Texas and hundreds more were trained in Lexington for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. The knowledgeable, passionate volunteer pool often helps ‘tip the scale’ for meeting and convention planners. Bringing the Certified Tourism Ambassador program to Kent County will have a strong influence in continuing the success of the $1.9 billion tourism industry in the community.

Developing the Grand Rapids Certified Tourism Ambassador program involved thorough research– including focus groups, a subject matter expert panel and a survey of management and front-line personnel. The program is delivered through reading assignments and in-class participation during a half-day classroom session. The programs curriculum follows four modules: The Power of Tourism; Discovering Grand Rapids and West Michigan; Knowing, Finding, Using Resources; and Exceeding Customer Expectations. Employees and volunteers who complete the program receive a credential and accompanying initials (CTA) that can be used behind their name to denote their commitment to their profession as a Certified Tourism Ambassador.

Experience Grand Rapids launched the Certified Tourism Ambassador program with its staff, Board of Directors and volunteers. Seventy Certified Tourism Ambassadors have completed the program and another 160 people have signed up to go through the Grand Rapids Certified Tourism Ambassador program by the end of the year.

“I find the CTA program to be an excellent way to pave the road to forming real relationships with your guest instead of just going through the peddling of goods or services to them,” said Lue Bryant, CTA, guest services manager at The B.O.B. “I love that I have been the cause of putting a big smile on many guests’ faces and knowing that I was able to assist them in making their visit remarkable is one of the reasons why I enjoy being a CTA.”

Offering more than just training, the certification is a year-round effort that promotes continued learning and engagement through an annual renewal process. There is a one-time application fee of $35 per person and an annual renewal fee of $10 person.

If you work or volunteer in the local tourism or hospitality industry, you can become a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA). This official industry designation is presented by Experience Grand Rapids on behalf of the nationwide Tourism Ambassador Institute. For more information or to sign up for a class, visit http://www.experiencegr.com/experience-grand-rapids/cta/.