The “Welcome to Arkansas” cross-selling and guest service training program seeks to increase visitors’ satisfaction with an Arkansas vacation and improve customer service by arming frontline personnel with messages about their local community, region, and state. The project was created by members of the hospitality and tourism industry who attended statewide research meetings in mid 2008.
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism coordinates a statewide guest service training program that provides free tools to help educate frontline employees regarding local attractions and activities. Tourism workers are educated about things to see and do in their communities so that they can better inform visitors and encourage them to stay longer.
This program is targeted toward frontline personnel, managers, and owners of attractions, lodging properties, dining establishments, Chambers of Commerce, Advertising and Promotion Commissions, Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus, Welcome Centers, and any other business or group that interacts with the traveling public. Communities encourage guests to spend more time and money in their areas and identify exemplary employees whose actions impact their businesses’ bottom lines every day.
The “Welcome to Arkansas” program provides participating communities with supporting materials that can be given to local businesses such as restaurants, lodging facilities, and attractions. Communities are asked to recruit business participants, offer training sessions, distribute the supporting materials to those organizations, recognize outstanding employees, and procure local incentives.
Supporting materials include custom attraction cards, window cling stickers, a 23 page “First Impressions” workbook, lapel pins and course certificates, and “First Impressions” training that is taught in your community by one of our guest service trainers.
“Welcome to Arkansas” is based on providing incentives for frontline employees to learn more about what there is to see and do in their towns and across the state and to share the information with visitors. Representatives of lodging properties, chambers of commerce, A&Ps, CVBs, and Welcome Centers help identify exemplary employees who provide extraordinary customer service in tourism.
Participating communities receive “Welcome to Arkansas” lapel pins, laminated area information cards, and access to Arkansas video content, to be shared with area businesses.
Through these free materials and grass-roots participation, local tourism industry workers unite efforts to attract and retain tourists. Communities are asked to:
Each community appoints a “point person” to coordinate the team to accomplish these traveler service actions. Incentives are as simple as inexpensive gift certificates to gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores. All recognized employees are entered to win a grand prize given away at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
The Department offers “First Impressions,” an excellent training program that educates both the employer and employee about what can be accomplished through superior customer service in tourism. A trainer comes to the community to conduct a session for the work force, explaining traveler service skills and concepts needed to make hospitality top priority every day.
To learn more about bringing the “Welcome to Arkansas” program or “First Impressions” training to your community, contact Jessica Ledbetter at Jessica.Ledbetter@arkansas.gov or 501-682-1676.