Tim Herman, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Herman, CEO

November 30, 2015

We’ve all heard the saying “first impressions are often lasting impressions.” And if you live or work in the Flint area, you understand exactly what this means. Even if the impression was made 20 years ago.

That’s why I’m very excited that our Convention & Visitors Bureau team is rolling out an industry recognized certification program called Certified Tourism Ambassador or CTA. The program helps to increase tourism by training hospitality workers, as well as private and public sector employees to deliver a consistent brand experience to visitors.

Marketing a destination is very important, and we’re doing our fair share of that. However, not nearly as much effort is spent on the experience that visitors have while they’re here in Flint & Genesee.

The CTA program will help us do exactly that. The program trains participants to be a more knowledgeable ambassador of our region and improve customer service. As we all know, when someone has a great experience in the region, it makes a difference in whether they choose to book a conference or major event here, or even relocate their business.

Certified Tourism Ambassador - CTATo become a CTA, participants are required to complete prep work. This includes about 4 hours of required reading. The subject matter covers:

  • The history of Genesee County
  • A review of major attractions
  • Dining, and other entertainment aspects of our local culture.

After the prep work, participants will receive an in-class presentation from a certified professional that includes how to promote and sell the region with a consistent message. Upon completion, participants will be certified ambassadors of Flint & Genesee.

We’ve benchmarked cities such as Grand Rapids, Lansing and others who have been very successful with CTA, and we’re confident that the program has great value for our region. For example, a 2014 Employer Survey showed that there is “proven behavior change” as a result of a city/county employing a CTA strategy. It found:

  • 84% Increased destination knowledge among participants
  • 67% improved customer satisfaction
  • 77% of customer/visitor comments on CTAs were positive

I strongly urge you to consider going through the program and/or sending your staff. The cost is minimal at $30, with a $15 annual fee to renew certification. The more people that become certified, the greater the return on our investment.

For more information on the CTA program, click here to access our website or contact Convention & Visitors Bureau Director DeAndra McCain at dmccain@flintandgenesee.org .