June 30, 2015 by Tod Hardin

Taking Service to a Higher Level

With their recent launch of the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program, Lake County is upping the ante in their efforts to ensure that their businesses and front-line service professionals are ready to provide leisure visitors with the absolute best experience possible.

It goes without saying that service is the name of the game in the tourism industry. With over $120 billion expected to be spent by leisure travelers in California this year, the stakes have never been higher for destinations like Lake County to capture their piece of the pie. Exceeding service expectations is often the key factor in earning repeat visits from travelers, and Lake County is relying on the CTA program to help them in the effort to do just that.

“Our goal is to help our community create the best possible experience for visitors to our region,” said Jill Ruzicka, who is heading up the CTA program for the County. “It’s not only about instilling customer service best practices, but also about seeing the positive attributes that Lake County has to offer and being able to then clearly communicate those qualities to those that choose to come spend time here.”

Lake County CTA Training class

Lake County CTA training class in progress!

 

After several years of considering the CTA program, the County finally came on board in June of this year. They are the 70th destination in the US, Canada and Caribbean to implement the program, with other locations including Baltimore, San Diego, Dallas, Ann Arbor, Bermuda and Green County, Virginia.

“We’ve certified over 27,000 Ambassadors since 2006,” said Mickey Schaefer, Founder of the CTA program and President of the Tourism Ambassador Institute. “We’re an industry-recognized certification that aligns the destination’s stakeholder businesses and front-line employees with the goal being to increase tourism by enhancing each visitor’s experience.”

A bi-annual survey of thousands of CTAs reveals ongoing, positive behavior change: 90% report enhanced knowledge of the destination ‘product’ and what it has to offer; 75% are more confident in serving visitors; and 80% have more pride and passion for where they live and work.

The County hopes to see similar results by sending over 200 business owners, front-line employees, County employees and volunteers through the program by the end of 2015, and to have over 400 certified Ambassadors by the beginning of the 2016 summer season.

“We offer a stunningly beautiful location with plenty of fun to be had by the entire family,” said Ruzicka. “We’re eager to show off what we’ve got and it’s exciting to see our communities embracing this effort to revive the long standing tradition of Lake County being one of California’s premier destinations.”

The inaugural training sessions are under way and will continue to evolve as needs are assessed.