By Joshua Maloni
The Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. unveiled the EXP Niagara program Wednesday at a gathering of more than 700 tourism employees. The training curriculum is designed to bolster workers' knowledge of the Niagara USA region to enhance customer service and create a better visitor experience.
NTCC President and CEO John Percy said, "This has been a longtime goal of this organization - and myself - and we are so pleased to be officially kicking off the EXP program. ... It is our official destination education and visitor services training program."
"We talked about this for many years, and it is an exciting day for us to get this completed and moving forward," Percy added. "I think you will be (excited), too."
Lana Perlman, director of visitor services, will organize the EXP Niagara program.
"We're very excited to be launching this program today," she said.
"It's a little over a year in the making, and it is designed specifically for you, our hospitality and tourism industry," Perlman said. "It's going to be a video-based program all housed on an e-campus. It's going to be about one hour in total training. I'll be working with properties individually to set up and enroll all of the employees."
"This program has been underwritten by us, at the NTCC, so that you can go through this program at no charge. It is free for you to participate," Percy said.
He added, "This program has been designed to help you be even better at your service that you do on a daily basis. We look forward to getting all of you through this program and witnessing the results and changes in the future."
"We're really looking forward ... to educating everyone, and to getting everyone to learn more about Niagara USA and your important role that you play in the industry," Perlman said.
The EXP Niagara program was unveiled during the second annual Day of Appreciation event inside the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.
"Today is all about celebrating the true backbone of this industry: the employees who work day and night to make tourism in Niagara County successful," Percy said.
Tourism-based vendors were on hand offering information and handouts, while all guests were treated to lunch, ice cream, a photo booth, music and a chance to win prizes.
Day of Appreciation was held as part of National Travel & Tourism Week, and served as a kickoff to the 2016 summer season.
The NTCC pegs the tourism industry as the second-largest employer in Niagara County (20 percent of the total workforce), generating approximately $65 million in both state and local taxes, and resulting in about $735 in savings per household.
For more information on the new program, visit www.EXPniagara.com.
Bob Emerson of Old Fort Niagara
Jessica DiCarlantonio of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours
Vanessa Groeneveld of Niagara Jet Adventures
DJ Pat Proctor of Rainbow Air/Premier Sound DJs