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Part II: Customer Service Symposium

Many people attend the workshop on Customer Service, in front Green River City recorder, Conae Black, Ferron City Recorder, Adele Justice and Ferron Mayor JoAnn Behling, second table, from Workforce Services Susan Sitterud and Olive Anderson, Green River business owner.
Nan Anderson speaks about tourism and the advantages of promoting your area.

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

Lou Sansevero is the Emery County Economic Development Council chairman. He began the conference by telling a story about customer service. Sansevero said a manager used to go around and stay in his hotels to test them without the management knowing he was there. Upon arrival at the hotel he would immediately call room service and order a vanilla milk shake. If the person on the other line said "that's not on our menu," he would say, do you have a tall glass? do you have ice cream? OK.

Sansevero said, "The idea of it wasn't that the hotel didn't have a vanilla milk shake, you have to think outside the box. Good business is making the milk shake and sending it to the man. If you get the story of the vanilla milk shake you will get what we are hoping to accomplish with this customer service symposium. We hope to empower business to build vanilla milk shakes. Support your customers."

Nan Anderson spoke to the symposium. She started working in a trade organization, the Salt Lake City visitor bureau, ski resort, waited tables, was a guide and outfitter, worked for Western Leisure. "I have had a lot of jobs in tourism. It's been crazy. Tourism is economic development. Things changed dramatically when Utah was able to pull together all types of tourism. I was a lobbyist for a few years. I learned a lot of lessons on legislative reality," said Anderson.

Anderson gave a power point presentation on why governments should invest and market tourism. Tourism can be used as an economic development tool. Gov Lou Sansevero is the Emery County Economic Development Council chairman. He began the conference by telling a story about customer service. Sansevero said a manager used to go around and stay in his hotels to test them without the management knowing he was there. Upon arrival at the hotel he would immediately call room service and order a vanilla milk shake. If the person on the other line said "that's not on our menu," he would say, do you have a tall glass? do you have ice cream? OK.

Sansevero said, "The idea of it wasn't that the hotel didn't have a vanilla milk shake, you have to think outside the box. Good business is making the milk shake and sending it to the man. If you get the story of the vanilla milk shake you will get what we are hoping to accomplish with this customer service symposium. We hope to empower business to build vanilla milk shakes. Support your customers."

Nan Anderson spoke to the symposium. She started working in a trade organization, the Salt Lake City visitor bureau, ski resort, waited tables, was a guide and outfitter, worked for Western Leisure. "I have had a lot of jobs in tourism. It's been crazy. Tourism is economic development. Things changed dramatically when Utah was able to pull together all types of tourism. I was a lobbyist for a few years. I learned a lot of lessons on legislative reality," said Anderson.

Anderson gave a power point presentation on why governments should invest and market tourism. Tourism can be used as an economic development tool. Government needs to continue to invest in tourism. One big reason for travel is visiting friends and relatives. If you travel over 50 miles you are considered a tourist. There are several different types of travel, business travel, leisure travel, there are huge amounts of different markets in tourism. Tourism is a happy business. We sell dreams, part of Lou's milkshake idea is selling dreams; delivering on someones concept of a dream. I firmly believe Utah has the best tourism product in the world. Top end resorts. Grand America five star property, fabulous ski resorts, unmatched beauty in the San Rafael, five national parks, state parks. Europeans are amazed at the vistas offered by our national parks. We have several international tourist projects. They love to visit the national parks.

"Tourism thrives on good will and hospitality. According to the world travel and tourism council tourism grows by 4.2 percent each year. It was a $4 trillion business in 07. Tourism is the largest industry. Hospitality creates jobs. People explore the world for personal satisfaction or business.

"Why tourism? Tourism is a clean industry, a carefully planned tourist business can expose people to ideas, tourism creates economic growth and stabilization, tourism reduces outward migration of your population, tourism can revitalize crafts and customs and identity in your area. Tourism can protect and increase recognition of your area.

"Part of the challenge of tourism is getting elected officials on board. Years ago tourism was touted as the panacea, it's not; it wasn't then and it isn't now. For the success of rural areas you need a healthy mixture of industry and tourism. I am very impressed it looks like that's where you are headed in Emery County.

"Sometimes the tourism industry gets no respect. Tourism has its downfall. Small businesses are so busy running their establishment you haven't had the time to tell your story. Some rural counties depend on tourism. Emery County is not one of those. When working in the legislative arena. They told us part of the problem is tourism isn't seen as generating family sustaining jobs. Many of your children got their first opportunity working in tourism. All the jobs are important.

"There is a trickle down effect in tourism. Lodging, food, taxes paid on salaries in turn go toward supporting schools, farms, local businesses. With an iceberg only 10 percent of its mass is visible from the top. The benefits of tourism include: job creation, pay roll, reduction in taxes paid by existing businesses, enhances city services, economy, relocation, people saw the area and came back to live. Tourism encourages entrepreneurial opportunity, history preservation, social activities, aid in protection of natural resources and development of interpersonal skills. The number one tourist activity is shopping.

"We don't have enough opportunities for shopping in rural Utah. During these tough economic times, the high end is still maintaining. Mid and lower levels are suffering the most. People are still making purchases, they have downsized a little. People are nervous for next years visitors, people will still travel. They will change plans, they might not take big trips but maybe more smaller trips, but they will travel.

"Tourism is the third largest retail industry nationwide, it has millions of employees. One of every seven workers in the US is employed directly or indirectly in tourism. A lot of people depend on tourism. A healthy flow of visitors makes a community thrive. Tourists pay a lot of taxes, sales, hotel, airport, rental, gas taxes. Tourism is one of the most highly taxed industries in the state. Room taxes and food taxes, it is a heavily taxed industry. Tourism causes tax relief. Travel and tourism saves every Utah taxpayer $708 each year. Its tax relief taxes pay for vital community services. Tourism pays for new roads and parks. Our change came about when we helped legislators understand tourism generates revenue for both local and state governments.

"Tourism is huge. In a state like California, they have Disneyland, Universal Studios, Seaworld, all are paying attractions. Utah has a lot of tourism which is free or cheap; state parks, national parks. We have skiing and lift tickets are expensive. A lot of tourism is free or reduced entry in Utah. It is a huge challenge. There is differentiation between the Utah travel product, we have a lot of visitation on public lands.

"The United States is one of the only countries without a national organization to promote tourism. Turkey spends more money on tourism than the US. Finally this year there are two pieces of legislation for tourism. Contact your senators to support the travel generation act. We need marketing and promotion at the federal level.

"In Utah we are now marketing better. We need a nationally coordinated travel program," said Anderson. Anderson said at the huge international shows in Germany and London there is only a dinky United States travel booth. Other countries invest in a big way. Do we have a chance? Absolutely, we need to work with elected officials to reverse negative perceptions. The United States is a premier travel destination. A fee for entering our country is being collected for a nonprofit corporation to promote worldwide tourism. What we did at the Utah level needs to be implemented at the national level," said Anderson.

"Tourism is a major economic engine, one of the few viable in every county. Utah prior to 2005 had a pathetic travel budget of $800,000 to $900,000. Utah office of tourism statistics show the $22 million spent each year now generates $6 billion. Prior governors couldn't catch the dream, but Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has been a strong supporter of tourism.

"The increase in tourism monies in Utah has been used for branding and marketing to out of state visitors. They have purchased ad space in national travel magazines and national television channels.

"For every dollar spent on advertising there is a return on investment of $8.

"Overnight visitors spend $94 per person, per day. Surrounding states spend a lot more on advertising than Utah. International visitors from Japan, Germany, Canada and Mexico enjoy state and national parks. Everything is going up. This is the fifth consecutive year of increases. Transient room taxes are up 32.9 percent. This is an extraordinary level of increase.

"There has been an incredible investment by the state of Utah in advertising to brand Utah," said Anderson.

Anderson gave some tips on how to encourage tourism in Emery County. She encouraged the county to enact a restaurant tax. "You have a great tourism product here," said Anderson.

Tourism has a high return on investment, High velocity tourism economic development will generate millions for the general fund. It will help pay for roads and for necessary funds. "What are we looking at this year for a funding request. We are asking for $13 million at the legislature. Advertising and marketing Utah as a tourism destination works. It will deliver return on investment even in a tough economic climate.

"All facets of the industry, must continue to work together to tell the tourism story. There are 25 counties with travel councils, their goals are all the same; market their county. We need an active grassroots network. When we have any issues with legislators, we would contact the local travel bureaus to work on their legislators. Contact your legislators, we need this tourism money. We need all of you. We need help in talking to elected officials about tourism. All elected officials need to hear from their constituents. In the past tourism was not good at talking with elected officials. Get involved, everyone needs to tell the tourism story. Meet the new legislators, the real work is done during interim, plant the seeds, do your arm twisting now not during the session," Anderson said.

"If you want something done on Capitol Hill, hire a lobbyist it's a complicated process. Dess Barker, designed the team that went to Capitol Hill, we needed a captain that understood the process. We need informed elected officials. We can't take funding for granted, share results with elected officials, return on investment-share the story. Small businesses are the backbone of Mainstreet USA, tourism jobs don't have to be low paying jobs; jobs can include public relations, accountants, these jobs can lead to careers and big benefits for any community through direct tourism and other businesses which supply and support tourism.

"Preserve local sites and historical sites. Plan activities around those. Look at quality of life issues. What is present for the visitors to enjoy, is also there for the residents to enjoy," stated Anderson.

Anderson showed ads and the life elevated branding video. Anderson fielded questions from the audience. One question was, "How many people in Utah haven't seen the Utah attractions." Anderson said the tourism money she spoke of earlier was just for out of state advertising. She said advertising is expensive. The state did a promotion called only a tank away which highlighted attractions you could get to on one tank of gas. "Emery County competes with every other county. You will see more visitors traveling to Emery County," predicted Anderson.

Laurie Pitchforth from the audience told a story of a retired police officer from New York she met in Moab. He visited Moab and decided he would save to retire in Moab. He told Pitchforth he just wanted to climb on a vista and enjoy the peace. He didn't think Utahns know and appreciate what they have in their back yards.

Olive Anderson, business owner in Green River said their main tourists to Green River are from the Wasatch Front. Anderson said tourism works best with a healthy mix of out of towners and more local travelers.

McCandless said Emery County has made use of the cooperative marketing monies available from the state. They used funds to create a kiosk rebranding Emery County as San Rafael Country. This kiosk was on display at the state fair and will travel to the travel shows throughout the winter months. This kiosk promotes the San Rafael Country and not the mountains. A Green River website was created and a new video. McCandless also mentioned that film companies have done seven projects in the last five months in Emery County.

Sansevero concluded this session of the symposium with the statement, Emery County needs to become a destination.




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