Submitted Experience Olympia & Beyond

A new multi-faceted visitor services model launches this month. The new model from Experience Olympia & Beyond offers visitor services throughout the county, expanded online travel planning and expanded hours for reaching someone by phone.

“Going on vacation is a fun and memorable experience and planning for a trip can be just as rewarding as going on the trip. Planning a trip correlates to increased happiness in different aspects of life including at work, in relationships and with finances, according to Project Time Off,” said Shauna Stewart, CEO of Experience Olympia & Beyond. “It’s important that we are meeting visitors where they’re at and filling the need to provide information at visitors’ fingertips.”

The expansion of services comes after a board committee analyzed the current visitor services model and recommended changes, taking into account key indicators such as an increase in reliance on technology.

“The new model is modern, allowing us to stay inline and ahead of industry trends as well as maximize stakeholder investment to have the greatest impact,” said Michael Davidson, Experience Olympia & Beyond’s board president.

The new multi-faceted approach includes:

  • A call center with expanded hours through a partnership with the Hands On Children’s Museum to answer visitor questions and provide suggestions on what to see and do in the destination.
  • A text and website chat option that expands online travel planning. Visitors can get answers to frequently asked questions any time of day, helping visitors beyond normal business hours when many are traveling or planning their travel.
  • Regional visitor information centers through partnerships with Lacey South Sound Chamber, Olympia Downtown Association and Encore Teas & Chocolates, and Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce. The visitor center on the capitol campus is closing, but visitors will have access to in-person visitor information with expanded collateral at visitor centers throughout the region. Experience Olympia & Beyond is working with regional partners to open additional visitor centers beyond those listed here.
  • A certified tourism ambassador training program that will allow anyone in the county, including frontline service staff at hotels, attractions and volunteers, to be trained to answer visitor questions about things to see and do in the region. The program will also be offered to Leadership Thurston County classes through a partnership with the Thurston County Chamber. The training will result in a positive visitor experience and increased word of mouth.

“The new model creates stronger partnerships county-wide. We are thrilled to support their great work in our joint effort to serve visitors,” said Stewart.

The visitor center on the capitol campus will close on September 27 and the volunteers will be thanked at a farewell party.

“The volunteers of our visitor center have given tirelessly to the organization and we can’t thank them enough for their dedication,” said Stewart.

The new model will launch on September 23.

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