"Certified Friendly" Program Helps Tourism Staffs Better Relate to Customers

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Some cities, hurt by the recession and eager to draw in tourism and business travel dollars, have decided to change their image. Many are doing whatever they can to become more tourism friendly.

Columbia, SC, for example, has embraced a new, four-month training program known as Certified Friendly. The educational and inspirational program is designed to improve the customer interaction skills and regional knowledge of staffers working in the city's many hotels, restaurants and attractions. Local government staffs are also invited to participate.

The four-part program includes basic customer service skills, diversity training, a trolley tour of local attractions, and even personal hygiene standards. Employers participating in the program are asked to treat the class time as work hours. The program is being funded by a city hospitality tax.

In Columbia, hospitality staffs who may not have grown up in the area or those unfamiliar with the city enjoyed being able to tour the city and were surprised by its many local attractions. The program instilled confidence in the staffs and equipped them to answer visitors' questions about specific shows or the art crawl.

The Certified Friendly pilot group consisted of 25 students with a follow up group expected to be twice that number. Columbia tourism officials feel the new program underscores the city's unique blend of Southern hospitality.

For an added perspective, check out this video:

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.


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