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Training program provides tourism partners the right tool

December 5, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

When you think of promoting tourism to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, advertising, marketing and public relations efforts might come to mind. While those are all important, you'd be forgetting one vital tool: training for our frontline hospitality workers to provide top-notch customer service. No one can more directly impact tourism than these men and women, which is why I encourage all tourism industry partners to enroll team members in the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau's Guests First Training Program.

Guests First is so important because it emphasizes making sure all touch points with visitors to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel leave with a positive impression. Whether it's a taxi driver, rental car agent, restaurant hostess or front desk agent, each interaction with visitors is an opportunity to impact their decision to come back and to recommend us to friends and family. If every touch point is a positive one, we greatly increase the chance they will come back again and again.

The next round of Guests First training began Nov. 27. The two-and-a-half-hour, non-traditional, interactive sessions are free to tourism partners and will include sessions for frontline workers on guest basics, making positive impressions, resolving less than perfect situations and providing exceptional customer service. There's also a session for supervisors and managers, too, on how to reinforce the training in the workplace. Details on each of the seven models are available online by clicking here.

Pre-registration is required due to space limitations, and the deadline to register for any session is three days prior. For dates, times and topics or to register for a class, click here.

Also, new this year is a chance for employees to springboard from Guests First training to earn a prestigious certification. The VCB is the first destination management organization in the country to partner with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute to help tourism industry employees earn the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP) certification. After local hospitality employees complete the seven-module Guests First program, they can take the CGSP final exam. Participants who pass the exam earn the CGSP certification.

I really believe in the importance of the Guests First training and hope you will take advantage of the opportunity. The more employees we enroll in Guests First, the more we can positively impact return visitation to our destination. I encourage you to sign up your team members today. If you need additional information, contact Christine Davlin at or 338-3500.

Tamara Pigott

Executive director




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