Tourism 'ambassadors' will help city visitors

Posted 04/20/2015
Did you know Cincinnati was the first U.S. city to establish a Jewish hospital and publish greeting cards?

That's the kind of information the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to share through a new certified tourism ambassador program, aimed at helping all 24 million annual Greater Cincinnati tourists to have the best visit possible.

The program will be launched before the 86th MLB All-Star Game, which is expected to bring more than 200,000 people to Cincinnati.

Julie Calvert, the convention bureau's vice president of communications and strategic development, said this program exists to help all Cincinnatians, but especially those who work in the hospitality industry, to ensure visitors have the best experience possible.

Thirty-five people have already been certified as ambassadors. The 35 includes Brad Hill, chief operating officer with American Legacy Tours, who plans to pay for all his employees to receive the training and give a $50 bonus for all who complete it.

Hill, whose company provides 13 tours throughout the Greater Cincinnati area (including of Over-The-Rhine and breweries), said the program is great customer service training for his staff.

"There are so many amazing things about Cincinnati," Hill said. "There's so much history that comes from Cincinnati and so many things to be proud of. We really do it because we love this city and we are so proud of our area and we want everyone else to see that too."

Courtney DeGeorge, event administrator at the Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center in Corryville, has taken the class and plans on being a program facilitator.

She said the course helped her become more "fluent" in her knowledge of the city.

Calvert said the program is designed to help ambassadors become familiar with the city and its resources, then impart that information to visitors.

"We want people to love the city," Calvert said. "We're glad that they're here."

To become an ambassador, participants must complete an 180-page reading about Cincinnati and customer service.

Topics include why Cincinnati is called the Queen City, Cincinnati's brewing history and its architecture.

"It's a chance for people to learn the history of the city," Calvert said. "It's about discovering the region, as well."

Prospective ambassadors must attend a four-hour class featuring role playing and group exercises, and pass a test, which can be taken multiple times.

Before All-Star Week begins July 10, classes are $29. After, they will be $34. There are some group rates.

DeGeorge said hospitality sector boosters want as many people as possible to become ambassadors before the All-Star Game.

All ambassadors must be re-certified each year so they can be updated about the region's venues, accolades, road changes, etc. They will retake the test for an $18 fee.

Registration and more information about dates and locations can be found at cincyusa.com/CTA. Anybody is welcome to register to become an ambassador.

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