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Convention and Visitors Bureau Revamps Training Program in Time for Travel Season

Springfield receives nearly 3 million overnight visitors a year./Credit: itsalldowntown.com

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/convention-and-visitor-s-bureau-revamps-training-program-time-travel-season_83625.mp3

Tourism is thriving in the Springfield economy, bringing in an estimated 3 million overnight visitors annually, according to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. As the travel season kicks off, the Bureau is revamping their training program for hospitality employees. KSMU’s Anna Thomas has more.

Five out of the last seven months have made records for room demand in Springfield hotels according to Laura Whisler, marketing and communications director of the bureau.

“More visitors are coming. They’re staying overnight, they’re eating in our restaurants, shopping in our shops, and visiting our attractions. So it’s even more important that those staff members that are there know what else there is to do in Springfield. So they can ultimately encourage people to stay here longer and spend more money,” Whisler said.

The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has had a training program for these frontline employees in hospitality and travel, but it was a two to three hour, classroom style program and becoming difficult for businesses to pay their employees to go off site.

Now the Bureau has officially kicked off its new online program under DiscoverSGF, consisting of six to eight training videos and a small test at the end. There is currently one video finished, and another in the works.

“We’d really like to see the series of videos include lots of niche content. So we’ll likely have one about downtown,” Whisler said.

And videos on outdoor recreation and children friendly events, Whisler adds. After completing the free program, employees are given a certified hospitality professional title and tickets to participating attractions in Springfield, so they can experience the places they’ve learned about in the program.

The Discovery Center is one of the first of several businesses to sign up. Charlotte McCoy is the marketing special events coordinator.

“You want to promote Springfield and all the things that you have going on. Whether we’re downtown, like the Discovery Center, and people say ‘hey, where do we go and eat?’ or you know, ‘how far is Hammons field from here?’ You know, asking all those questions. The goal is, obviously, to stay longer in the Springfield area,” McCoy said.

The center is incorporating the program with staff members who are the first to interact with visitors. McCoy says she thinks the program will do well to inform her employees and keep tourism up.

“The more people that can promote and be passionate about Springfield, hope that that word of mouth travels and makes a big difference,” McCoy said.

The goal is to complete the six to eight videos in the next year, but Whisler said it will be a continuing project as the city develops. She encourages anyone, not just members of the hospitality field, to watch the videos.

Click here for  information about DiscoverSGF.

For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.