Enhancing visitors' experience

Posted 07/17/2014
Galveston Daily News

By JOHN WAYNE FERGUSON

GALVESTON - A Park Board-sponsored program has more peopleGalveston class than ever talking about Galveston.

Launched in May, the Certified Tourism Ambassador program is a class that aims to make visitor encounters more positive, said Ivette Wilhelm, a public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees.

To do that, a test has been developed to make sure that people who encounter visitors to Galveston know what they're talking about.

The test is 28 questions about Galveston history, attractions, economic impact, visitor experiences and the importance of the tourism industry, Wilhelm said.

The Park Board declined to give sample questions from the test. It can only be completed by taking a four-hour class and completing an open-book test.

The Park Board has been declaring the program a success.

After originally setting a goal of having 150 certified ambassadors by September, the Park Board has already had 233 people graduate, Wilhelm said. Another 55 people have applied.

Small business owners have taken the test, Wilhelm said, as have tour guides, hotel employees and other tourism personnel. Members of the Park Board also have taken the test.

Tourism officials said they hope by having a program that encourages tourism employees to know more about the place they work, visitors will have a more positive experience on the island.

"By enhancing the visitors' time here, they'll likely go back home and tell their family and friends about their positive vacation experience in Galveston," said Melody Smith, marketing manager for the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"There's a lot of history and other information about Galveston. It's fun to see the people who go through the training learn about that history and to become excited, not only with the customer service aspect, but also with what they've learned about Galveston."

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.