The Certified Tourism Ambassador™ Program – CTA™
Administered through the Tourism Ambassador Institute®, the Certified Tourism Ambassador™ (CTA) Program is a certification program that serves to increase tourism by inspiring front-line hospitality employees and volunteers to work together to turn every visitor encounter into a positive, memorable experience.
The premise is simple: If front-line employees and volunteers (those who come into immediate contact with the visitor) provide quality service to visitors (convention attendees, visitors, business travelers, etc.), the visitor is more likely to have a positive experience. Visitors who have a positive experience are more likely to return at some point in the future. They will share their perceptions with their friends. Everyone benefits – the tourist, the hospitality industry, the local economy and, most importantly, the front-line ambassador.
Upon completion of all program requirements, front line employees and volunteers are awarded the Certified Tourism Ambassador™ (CTA) designation and may use the initials CTA behind their names, i.e., John Smith, CTA. The designation is conferred by the Tourism Ambassador Institute® (TAI) in cooperation with a Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), or other tourism entity. These organizations agree to uphold certain standards of practice as a TAI Accredited Provider in order to ensure a high level of program quality over time. Those achieving the CTA designation would be expected to participate in continuous learning activities in order to be re-certified on an annual basis. This certification component strengthens the program in the eyes of the front-line workers and their employers and, as such, has lasting value over time to a city, region, and the nation as the program grows from city to city.
The beauty of the CTA designation is that it provides front-line employees and volunteers critical training that helps improve their attitudes and their performance. It gives them a chance to meet one another, learn from each others’ experiences, and celebrate together. All of this strengthens the program over time as the program matures.
The benefits are numerous and build on each other, which creates a Benefits Cycle, as follows:
This exciting, ground-breaking program has many features that translate into a wide variety of benefits that permeate, and elevate, the entire hospitality and business community.
The concept of tourism ambassadors is not new to the industry. Several cities in the U.S. and Canada have implemented some form of an ambassadors program. These current and past programs range anywhere from downtown ambassador programs that answer visitor queries and monitor safety and cleanliness, to programs for cab drivers where their license to operate is contingent upon completing formal customer service training.
One of the critically important differences between the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program offered by the Tourism Ambassador Institute® and these other training programs is that our program will lead to full certification as a Certified Tourism Ambassador™. Certification, unlike training, provides lasting value to the industry and the visitors and tourists it serves.
Destinations continually strive to bring visitors and tourists to their area. The CTA Program is a natural fit to bring together a myriad of objectives. The Certified Tourism Ambassador™ Program:
In short, the program has many features that translate into a wide variety of benefits that help strengthen the entire hospitality and business community.
The Body of Knowledge has been developed through extensive research and field testing. Comprised of four modules, the Body of Knowledge covers the important elements of tourism, regional attributes/attractions and customer service. Learning objectives drive the learning experience and provide participants with a very clear idea about the most important learning outcomes in each Module. Sometimes, these objectives are written to: (a) describe facts the CTA candidates are expected to know; (b) describe principles or concepts that are important in the hospitality and tourism industries; and (c) describe an attitude or specific behavior (performance) that is expected of the Certified Tourism Ambassador.
The CTA Program has been designed to be customized to meet the needs of each Accredited Provider, while staying true to the established curriculum or Body of Knowledge. The TAI works with the Accredited Provider through six important phases:
Phase One – Research & Planning
Phase Two – Customized Program Development
Phase Three – Field Testing
Phase Four – Train the Trainer
Phase Five – Program Roll-Out
Phase Six – Ongoing Program Management
A variety of customization options are available to fit the needs and budgets of organizations of any size. Contact the TAI for more information.
What’s in it for the front-line employee or volunteer?
· Provides you with a meaningful credential that is visible to visitors, friends and family (John Doe, CTA)
· Increases your company’s business, which may mean increases in compensation
· Builds skills you’ll have for a lifetime
· Helps bolster your resume to show to prospective employers
· Supports your career development
· Helps you network with – and learn from – your peers across the region
· Helps you stay “in the know” with regular updates
Certification requirements will be established on an annual basis by the Tourism Ambassador Institute® (TAI). A front-line employee or volunteer who aspires to become a CTA is required to complete these requirements in order to earn the designation and be authorized to use it. The Accredited Provider, on behalf of the TAI, will evaluate whether each candidate has satisfactorily:
· Completed the required reading and pre-class exercises
· Demonstrated active participation in all classroom exercises
· Completed all assignments
· Earned a passing score on the CTA examination
· Demonstrated a commitment to becoming certified as a CTA and to re-certifying annually
This program has been established with initial certification followed by re-certification annually thereafter. The annual certification renewal requirement ensures that CTAs are kept up-to-date on important new developments and that they participate in continuous learning in subjects comprising the CTA body of knowledge, especially regarding new developments in their city/region.
Recertification requirements will be established on an annual basis by the Tourism Ambassador Institute® (TAI). The Accredited Provider, on behalf of the TAI, will evaluate whether each CTA has satisfied the recertification requirements. To renew certification, CTAs must have earned a specified number of points during the preceding 12 month period. Points may be earned by:
Recertification also ensures that the program maintains momentum and evolves over time to meet the needs of CTAs and visitors.
Upon successful completion of the Certified Tourism Ambassador™ Program requirements, successful candidates may begin using the CTA designation behind their names. They will also receive:
CTAs are expected to assume the responsibility of strengthening the status of the designation in the eyes of their employer and their city/region by:
· Continuing their education at every opportunity
· Enhancing their product knowledge – the city’s restaurant, attractions, and everything else a visitor may want to do or inquire about.
· Taking advantage of discounts or free offerings from participating supporters to experience their “product” and in order to be able to recommend it first-hand to visitors.
· Celebrating their achievement with their co-workers
· Maintaining their credential on an annual basis by completing re-certification requirements
· Encouraging their colleagues to become CTAs
· Having fun!
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