Virginia’s slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers” turned 50 in 2019. To celebrate, letters spelling LOVE were setup throughout the state. Deltaville was chosen as one of the locations. The Deltaville Maritime Museum is in the background.
What does it feel like to be on the receiving end of a Certified Tourism Ambassador? My husband and I recently took a vacation that took us to some well-known tourist destinations and to places less known. We visited Myrtle Beach, Key West, Miami, and several places in the Caribbean.
But my best experience was in a small, out-of-the-way town in Virginia called Deltaville, located on a peninsula with the Rappahannock River to the north, the Piankatank River to the south, and the Chesapeake Bay to the east. The town developed around a large boat building industry, mostly for commercial bay watermen, but those days have passed.
Now the area is dotted with numerous marinas, boatyards, and marine-related businesses. Stingray Point, at the end of the peninsula, gets its name from the 17th century when Captain John Smith was stung by a stingray while fishing there. Seriously injured, Smith gave orders to his men to prepare a grave for his body. Legend has it that he was saved when Native Americans provided a cure, found at a nearby creek, now known as Antipoison Creek.
There isn’t much in Deltaville to brag about. No red lights. No fast food places. There is, however, a 7-11 convenience store, but there are no restroom facilities inside. It does offer a “job-johnnie” along the side of the building, if you are need. Our favorite place is the Maritime Museum and Grounds where we like to settle down at a picnic table, eat Maryland blue crabs and enjoy the beautiful view of the river. We have a small camper on a plot of land my husband owns outside Deltaville. It is raw camping. No electric. No heat. But the camper keeps us out of the weather.
Every year at the beginning of November, a near-by town, Urbanna, holds its annual Oyster Festival. It is a two day event and we enjoyed the first day of it together. The next day my husband wanted to go back to the festival, but I needed to find some place to park for the day and do some writing. I needed a table, a chair, electric, warmth and, hopefully, a place with wifi. We drove around Deltaville looking for a coffee shop or restaurant that would allow me to stay there for about five hours, but it was still too early. It seemed nothing opened until 10 am.
At one point we went to the Maritime Museum, but it was not open yet either. That’s when I spotted a woman walking on the grounds. I asked her if she knew anywhere in town that would meet my needs. She said, “I work here at the museum. You can use the board room, which is the library, and it will be quiet. There are snacks there that you can enjoy. And we also have wifi.”
I told her I felt like hugging her. After the museum open, I sat for hours and wrote our church’s Christmas production. I had to leave before it was done, but I finished it that night back in the camper, writing by the light of a small lantern, while shivering from the chilly night.
During the Tourism Summit in September, Mickey Schaefer talked about making positive experiences for the visitor. While this woman, who came to my assistance, probably was not a CTA, she should be, as she exemplified everything that the CTA program teaches.
While thousands were walking the streets of Urbanna at the Oyster Festival, I had the best experience as I enjoyed the hospitality of a place, which does not have many attractions to offer visitors. Deltaville was my favorite memory of our four week vacation along with that one person who portrayed the true CTA spirit. She showed me that it is not what your community has to offer that matters; it is what you offer those visiting your community.
Tyler Baum personifies one of the top CTA rules about Going the Extra Mile. As a technology advisor for Marco, the miles rack up as he sees current Marco customers and engages new clients throughout the Cumberland Valley. What sets Tyler apart from other sales people, and what makes him a stellar CTA, is his ability to listen and his enthusiasm for going above and beyond customer expectations.
“I love the sales world; there’s obviously pros and cons with people having the perception that all we want to do is sell, sell, sell. I like to create relationships and get down to what the customer needs and wants. Whether it’s with their office equipment, or having documents shredded, or the other services that we provide.” Working at Phillips Office Solutions (which Marco later acquired) in the office, purchasing, scheduling, logistics and warehousing, he decided to enter sales a few years back. Being a Marco rep may open doors, but being a CTA develops common ground, Tyler says.
“The Visitor’s Bureau happened to be one of my customers and that was just when the CTA program kicked off. I met Doug. I thought it was a great opportunity to get to know the county that I cover and as well as other counties, and to get more knowledge about the territory where I spend most of my days. When I wear my CTA pin, most people ask what it is, if they don’t know already, and it makes the conversation easier to just have a normal talk with people. We want to live, work, play in the communities we visit.”
A native of Newville, he graduated from Big Spring High School, attended Shippensburg University and later moved onto Phillips, working in Middletown for four years before the transition into sales. At 28, with family in the area, he is active in his church in Shippensburg, plays flag football every weekend and serves as an assistant executive director of a flag football league. “We’re trying to give young adults something to do, that’s not the party scene, or the drug culture. We’re putting a good effort forward to be a family community where people get to know each other and friendships really thrive.”
With customer service paramount in his career, Tyler takes note when there is a lack of it. “Every year I travel to Ocean City, MD for a flag football tournament. Whether it’s at the hotel or the restaurants we go to, or mini golfing we do, if there is not a good vibe, good customer service, I can feel that right away. It turns you off to want to go back to said place or even said city. It really makes a difference – with the CTA program, I really see the big picture – that Doug, Janet and the whole team is trying to implement, county wide – no matter where anybody walks, or eats, or sleeps, they should have a pleasant experience in Franklin County.”
He loves the energy of the Cumberland Valley. “Everybody with technology has information at their fingertips now. If you have somebody at your hotel or your restaurant, who can provide the info you want, at a moment’s notice and provide it with a smile and pleasant attitude, I think that really gets people talking about Franklin County. It changes the energy from a negative to a positive outlook. Yes, there’s things to do here. Some really cool things.”
Special thanks to Franklin County CTA Dianna Heim,Director of Strategic Relationship Development, for contributing this CTA spotlight.
Pete Mason is as surprised as anyone to be retired and living the active volunteer life in Franklin County. Just a little more than five years ago, he was ready to enjoy restful days in his and his wife’s New Jersey home, on the outskirts of New York City. It was a long way from where he began.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Pete says he remembers he couldn’t wait to leave. “They taught the three Rs – Reading, (w)Riting and Route 29 to Milwaukee.” He went to college in Minnesota where he met his wife. They married a week after their graduation, then headed for Milwaukee. “I worked for First Wisconsin National Bank for a few years and [eventually] got a job at a company called Wacker-Neuson and they transferred me to New Jersey, which was a terrific culture shock.”
As a sales manager in the Northeast, Pete traveled and discovered a lifelong interest. “I’m a history nut! In my job, I left on Monday and came back Friday. Whatever town I was in – Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh – I was usually with one sales person and we would go out at night to check out the area, look for the history of the area, discover what made people tick, and determine why they would buy something from us. In different markets, the various ways people do things is interesting.”
At 68½ years old, Pete decided to retire. The couple had no further plans, but they began looking at their retirement income and the taxes in New Jersey. “We had some friends that lived here [Penn National] and they had a New Year’s party. We didn’t know where this was, but went to the party. We liked the area, bought a lot, built a house and now we’re happy. In fact, we just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary a month ago and we had our motto put on the cake ‘Who’d of thought?’
The itch to learn more about an area was one of the reasons Pete became a CTA. His best experience was accompanying a bus tour as a guide. The tour made a stop at Monterrey Pass. “I was really excited about it; it was a lot of fun. I studied up. The people on the tour had no idea the magnitude of what happened with this part of the retreat [after the battle of Gettysburg], the battle between the two armies there or the part George Armstrong Custer played in the battle. Approximately 10,000 soldiers fought on that little narrow road. The new one room museum is very nice. It’s surprising, but Monterrey Pass is one of the best kept secrets around.”
What’s next on his list as a CTA? “Janet [Pollard] wants me to take the test [Gettysburg battlefield guide exam], which isn’t until next year. I might just do it for my own interest. It’s on my bucket list.
Said like a true Certified Tourism Ambassador.
Special thanks to CTA Dianna Heim,Director of Strategic Relationship Development, for contributing this CTA spotlight.
As 2019 begins, the Franklin County Visitors Bureau recognizes the growing CTA Program and reflects on a year of progress toward expanding the mission of both the FCVB and the CTA Program.
The Certified Tourism Ambassador Programis a multi-faceted program that seeks to increase tourism by inspiring front-line employees and volunteers to turn very visitor encounter into a positive experience. When visitors have a positive experience, they are more likely to return and share their experience.
In the beginning of 2017, Doug Harmon, Certified Tourism Ambassador Director with the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, began training members of the community and staff. 2018 has continued to be a busy year, with now over 100 CTA’s trained and promoting Franklin County.
“We are extremely happy with the results we’ve gotten from participating in the CTA Program for 2018,” Harmon said.
Franklin County Visitors Bureau would like to thank the many generous local organizations that have opened their doors for training and have joined the Franklin County CTA’s including Quincy Village, Ragged Edge Inn, Penn National Golf Community, Coyle Free Library, Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce and Holiday Inn & Express in Chambersburg.
“This remains a great networking opportunity,” said Harmon. “It provides great growth for individuals and for our local businesses.”
Franklin County CTA’s have continued to do many outreach events, the most recent, serving as ambassadors at the Franklin County 11/30 Center, where they have assisted members of the public about what to do, where to dine and where to stay in Franklin County. They have also done a bus tour to Waynesboro, a hiking and nature walk to Caledonia State Park and meet and greets at local wineries and breweries.
Dudley Gayman, 2018 Franklin County CTA of the Year, was involved with early stages of the program and its development in 2017.
“My experience has been both positive and rewarding for a host of reasons. The training and learning experience is a benefit as well as actively reaching out into the communities in Franklin County,” Dudley said. “Meeting and mixing with individuals and businesses is an excellent way to increase your knowledge about our surroundings. Promoting and educating locals and visitors about the rich history we have right here in Franklin County is the “icing on the cake.”
Tyler Baum, CTA, said he has extremely enjoyed representing his community in public, with friends and participating in events. Baum has served at the CTA informational desk at the new 11/30 Visitors Center, attended meet and greets and has spoken widely about the program.
“Being a CTA has given me the opportunity to meet people,” he said, which has helped his own work in sales and in getting to be a part of the community. “The CTA Program has an emphasis on face-to-face communication. I love it!”
Upcoming classes for Certified Tourism Ambassador training will be held on:
January 15 at the Cumberland Valley School of Real Estate
February 26 at the Orchards Restaurants
March 26 at Menno Haven Retirement Community
April TBD at the new 11/30 Visitors Center
If interested in learning more about becoming a member of this growing community-oriented program, contact Doug Harmon 717-552-2977 extension 106.
With the first, impressive group of Franklin County Certified Tourism Ambassadors trained and ready to go, Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB) announces April and May Franklin County Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) Training. The April class is set for April 23 at the new Coyle Free Library in downtown Chambersburg. On May 17, the class is being held at the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce. Both classes begin with an 8 AM registration.
CTA training is a nationwide training certification that helps communities know the value of their destination by providing information about history, culture, art, recreation, and outdoors. The program’s goal is to bring consistency, positivity, and pride to the people visitors meet in the community. It could be an event planner, a waitress, a real estate agent, a front desk person, or a docent of a heritage site. The program is a good way to expand awareness of community, quality of life, and tourism assets.
In March, fourteen Certified Tourism Ambassadors graduated from the first Franklin County PA CTA training. The class included representatives from across Franklin County, including Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mont Alto, Quincy, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. As well, eight CTA trainers were trained by the founder of the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program, Mickey Schaefer.
Being a CTA builds the confidence to go above and beyond with the visitor experience. Plus, it provides a way to network, support pride in community, stay in the know on local happenings, gain knowledge of local history and culture, and develop leadership qualities.