Program Trains Locals to Interact with Visitors

4 years 4 months 2 weeks ago Sunday, March 02 2014 Mar 2, 2014 Sunday, March 02, 2014 3:13:00 PM CST March 02, 2014 in News
By: Shay McAlister, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - The city's convention and visitors bureau is celebrating the one-year mark of buying into a program which promises to increase visitor satisfaction with the city. Last year, the bureau bought a national program called Certified Tourism Ambassadors (CTA) to the city. The CTA program works toward certifying anyone the city with the skills necessary to leave every visitor they come in contact with with a lasting positive impression.

The Columbia Convention and Visitor Bureau started looking into the program a few years ago. Bureau Communications Manager Megan McConachie said there's nothing else like this program, so it was an obvious choice. "We noticed Columbia was increasingly becoming a tourist town through the various attractions we host every year and this was a program was created to make the town as visitor friendly as possible."

The program has a $30,000 start up fee and then cost $4,500 annually to renew. The costs include training programs, curriculum specific to Columbia and annual updates.

The classes are available to anyone in the city who is interested in learning more about Columbia as a destination city and what the city has to offer. McConachie said most people don't see Columbia as a destination city, but the variety of festivals and sporting events that take place here make it fall under the "destination" category for visitors.

Events like the Roots N' Blues N' BBQ Festival and True/False Film Fest bring in thousands of people from around the country and even internationally. While those people are in town, it is up to the locals with whom they come into contact to make the trip a positive experience. The program emphasizes the importance of small interactions. For example, those with a taxi driver, locals in line at a coffee shop or a police officer directing traffic. For this reason, the entire community is encouraged to take the classes, not only customer service representatives like hotel and restaurant staff.

Hampton Inn & Suites manager Susan Bell said she doesn't require her staff to take the class but it does better equip them to help guests.

Bell said, "There is no program like it. It gives people an inside to Columbia that they could never get on there own."

It costs $25 to register for the course, which is a four-class series leading to a CTA certificate. The classes are called modules and each focus on a different part of customer service and awareness. The classes also focus on equipping community members with the tools they need to effectively answer guests' questions, but does not directly give them the answers.

McConachie said, "We really try to direct the way visitor-ambassador interactions go by providing techniques and a format, but we don't tell them what to recommend to the visitors. We give them options but not a certain place so each interaction is unique."

Another reason the class is not too specific is so it can apply to everyone in the community who wants to become CTA certified. Columbia Police Sergeant Joe Bernhard said, "Most of the police department has been certified and those who haven't are working toward it."

The CTA program requires participants to complete the four modules, pass an assessment and finish volunteer hours before they receive certification. 

When the program started, Columbia Convention and Visitor's Bureau staff had a goal of 150 ambassadors in the first year. The program has now been in place for a year and has more than 400 Columbia CTA certified ambassadors.

In the next few years, city officials will start measuring the success of the program with what they call visitor profile studies. The measurement will come from a survey distributed to visitors which asks about the friendliness of citizens they encounter and their knowledge about the city.

To find out more about the CTA program and how to register visit the website and click on "Sign Up For A Class."

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - An arrest for suspicion of filing a false report has been made in connection to a reported robbery... More >>
4 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 11:44:28 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - After four days of searching, Jerry Kinman has been found dead near Little Dixie Lake. Kinman,... More >>
5 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 10:19:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
STURGEON - The carnival rides at the Boone County Fair closed unexpectedly just hours after the fair opened because they... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 9:00:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A democratic candidate for Missouri's fourth congressional district criticized the Republican incumbent Tuesday for her lack of action... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 6:46:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Chamber of Commerce harshly criticized the city council at Monday night's meeting regarding projects being put... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 6:41:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Hy-Vee recalled its Spring Pasta Salad from 244 stores on Tuesday. Company officials said 20 illnesses by... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 5:54:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
MEXICO - Josh Hawley faced questions about President Donald Trump's summit with Russia as well as tariffs facing Missouri farmers... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 5:31:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY – Expecting mothers in Boone County will soon have more services at their disposal. The county received... More >>
13 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 2:16:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Grain Belt Express Clean Line, a proposed energy transmission project through northern Missouri, got new life... More >>
14 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 1:59:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
ASHLAND - A child identification program wants to help parents be as prepared as possible in the event that a... More >>
14 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 1:41:00 PM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Nineteen agencies received more than $115,000 in grant money Tuesday from the United Way of Central Missouri.... More >>
16 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 11:56:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Some people may notice their trash laying out on the curb for longer than usual on Tuesday. ... More >>
16 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 11:12:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - A car chase which started in Cole County on Tuesday ended in Columbia with two arrests. ... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 10:22:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The group fighting a ballot measure that would make Missouri a right-to-work state has outraised its... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 10:17:30 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Authorities say two planes carrying more than 250 passengers made emergency landings at Kansas City International... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 10:11:34 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Police records related to the shooting death of Rovon Blocker suggest the incident appeared to be accidental. ... More >>
18 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 9:39:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Three Fulton men are in custody after being charged with stealing and drug offenses, in connection to... More >>
19 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 9:01:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
FULTON - A judge sentenced a man convicted of a dozen sex crimes, some involving children, to sixty years in... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, July 17 2018 Jul 17, 2018 Tuesday, July 17, 2018 8:05:00 AM CDT July 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
4am 72°
5am 71°
6am 70°
7am 71°