TNCC-WD Hospitality Training Prepares Anyone to Be an Historic Triangle Ambassador

Published: March 22, 2013

The Historic Triangle area has been ranked a  top destinations in the USA, and in 2011 the Travelers’ Choice “#1 Family Choice Award went to Williamsburg, Virginia. To prepare employees and residents to serve the needs of tourists, Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) Workforce Development and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance partner each year to provide free training to local businesses, organizations and individuals.

 With this exciting training, anyone can become an ambassador for Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle.

Prepare, Care, ShareSM Hospitality Training is a two-part course open to anyone – that’s right, anyone – who lives or works in the Triangle area.  The training helps participants better understand visitors’ needs, creating better ambassadors for the region.  To date, over 4600 individuals have benefited from the program.

“The guests that come to our area are a huge reason for many of our jobs and our livelihoods,” explains Dr. Carmen Burrows, Associate Vice President, Workforce Training & Continuing Education at TNCC. “As our region works to draw more visitors from Virginia and the surrounding states, we know that word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to promote the Triangle. By making sure that guests have an outstanding experience while they are here, we help people spread the word that greater Williamsburg is the place to visit!”

Prepare, Care, ShareSM Hospitality Training consists of two modules. In the first, a four-hour, interactive classroom experience, local business owners, community ambassadors, and individuals work together to learn more about the major history, attractions and amenities our area has to offer.

The second module consists of an extraordinary, eight-hour tour of the Historic Triangle, including lunch at a Colonial Williamsburg Tavern. “Touring the area’s major attractions is the best way for employees to experience first-hand the wonderful things there are to do here,” says Burrows. “The more enthusiastic our hospitality employees are about the Triangle, the easier it will be for them to convey to visitors the compelling reasons to choose this destination, year after year. Their excitement is contagious!”

In addition to familiarizing trainees with the area’s history and offerings, the course also provides individuals and local employees with guidance on how to deal with the myriad of questions and issues that visitors might have. Participants cover possible visitor questions such as:

  •  “We only have a day here in town – what is the one thing we absolutely shouldn’t miss?”
  •  “My son needs to get home from college. Is there a train to Philadelphia he can catch?”
  •  “Was Powhatan a person or a tribe?”
  •  “Is there a synagogue (or mosque) that I can take my family to while we’re here?”

 Many visitors to our area face particular challenges, like not being fluent in our language, or having special needs. The training provides guidance on how to respond to these situations. Initially designed in 2006/2007 in collaboration with the Historic Triangle Jamestown 2007 Host Committee and other organizations as preparation for the 400th Anniversary, Prepare, Care Share  establishes hospitality standards for the local tourism industry and provides hospitality professionals with the tools and knowledge they need to represent the Historic Triangle in their jobs and lives.

Mandy Addison, a local employee, first took the Prepare, Care, ShareSM training when she worked at Great Wolf Lodge. “I couldn’t believe how much I learned about the area,” she says. “It made me feel so much more connected; so much more excited about my job!”

Kris Allard, Front Office Manager at Westgate Historic Williamsburg, adds, “All of our employees and I did the course and took the tour. Afterwards, we felt completely energized about the area. We now do it every year.”

Trainer Shelley Weisberg, a facilitator since 2006, says, “The course is an outstanding way to make new connections in the area. Whether it’s knowing the latest ride at Busch Gardens or getting up to speed on the Chamber’s drive to get more participants for Arts Month, this training will help you to know the Historic Triangle like you never knew it before.”

Classes began in March. For upcoming training and tour dates, call Debra Loving at 757-825-3577.

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