Over the last several months, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau (JCVB) has partnered with Johnston Community College’s Small Business Center to develop a hospitality training program named “Hospitality Heroes”. This training course will be FREE to new and existing tourism industry employees in the county and it will be available October 1, 2010. The tourism industry employees in hotels, restaurants, retail, attractions, festivals/event planners, meeting venues, and transportation services will be eligible for the training.
“Hospitality Heroes has been designed as a FREE online course for tourism industry employees in the county, which we hope will become a regular part of their employee orientation process,” stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, Executive Director, JCVB. “The Visitors Bureau had tried several different ways to provide customer service training to the tourism industry in the past, with guest speakers, staff presentations, and industry specific programs.”
“This new program is much more assessable for the nearly 4,500 full and part-time tourism industry employees in the county. We owe JCC a wealth of gratitude for their willingness to partner with us”, continued Bailey-Taylor. “When we called JCC and pitched this idea, they didn’t hesitate at all, and we just couldn’t have done this without Rosa Andrews and the blackboard technical staff at JCC.”
“Hospitality Heroes” will unify Johnston County’s tourism industry by teaching front line employees about tourism, their local destination, and give helpful tips on customer service. The course will run every month with enrollment at JCC starting on the 1st of each month. Enrollment is open until the 25th of each month for the next month’s class, and after enrollment employees will have one 30 days to complete the course.
“JCC is very excited to partner with the Johnston County Visitors Bureau to create Hospitality Heroes for use by the tourism industry in Johnston County. This is an example of using the technology and learning tools of our college to meet a need in the community! I have no doubt that the students in this program will enjoy the learning environment and will enrich their work by participating,” stated Rosa Andrews, Director of Small Business Center and Occupational Licensure, Economic and Workforce Development.
The goals of the Hospitality Heroes course include giving new and existing employees a better understanding of the Visitors Bureau and the organization’s role to promote the county. They will be provided information about Johnston County’s things to do, places to stay, dining, entertainment, recreation, meeting venues, and the many shopping and outlet opportunities which will help them answer visitor questions when approached on the job. Just having this basic information and knowing the visitors bureau provides marketing materials like the Visitors Guide, Visitor Maps and the website will help frontline employees do their jobs.
For more general information on the tourism industry, employees will be given facts and figures about national, state and local visitor spending, visitor profiles, and many additional resources to tourism organizations’ websites. The Johnston County Visitors Bureau partners with and belongs to several of these state and national organizations who conduct national research studies to provide the most up-to-date travel trends.
Through a license agreement with “License to Serve”, a program developed through Destination Marketing Association International, employees will learn basic customer service techniques. The goals of the customer service module are: to promote a more positive public image, improve internal and external professional relationships and networks, establish an environment of optimum customer service, positively differentiate the organization from competition, and increase the number of new customers and retain current customers.
With course completion, employees will receive a Hospitality Heroes certificate, a gift bag from JCVB, vouchers to local attractions within the county, and an invitation to an annual luncheon during National Tourism Week each May, to be recognized by the community as a tourism ambassador.