Banff Ambassador Program up for Alto Award 0
After a decade in existence, the Banff’s Best program needed a change. A serious overhaul is more like it.
The information was still relevant — helping young workers who just moved to Banff learn about the community and landscape around them — but the whole program needed an upgrade to bring it up to date and breathe a little bit of new life into it.
So organizers set out to develop partnerships with local businesses who provide fun, free incentives to those who take the course, and the program itself was cut down from three hours in a classroom setting to just one hour, packing in all the knowledge newcomers will need when spending a season in town.
Calling it the Banff Ambassador Program, it re-launched in May, and is already making waves. Not only is it extremely popular — 50 sessions are planned between now and Christmas that will educate over 1,000 people — but it’s also winning industry accolades.
Banff Heritage Tourism and BanffLIFE, which jointly run the program, are up for an Alto, an Alberta Tourism Award for Service Excellence.
Years ago, Banff’s Best was nominated but didn’t win, but this new revamped version of the program could have a chance.
“I think we’ve got a much stronger case now,” said Banff Heritage Tourism’s John Bowden.
He’ll be in attendance at the awards gala next Monday with BanffLIFE’s Christine LaRocque when the winners are announced at the Banff Springs Hotel.
“The program has made leaps and bounds from what it was,” LaRocque said. “The response from young people has been profound.”
Different programs are available for people who have just arrived to town, or for those that are returning for the season. Participants take a one hour course as the first part of the program, and the second part is a guided bus tour of Banff or Lake Louise courtesy of Discover Banff Tours. When people complete both parts of the Banff Ambassador Program, they get a “National Park Passport” with freebies for local businesses valued at over $500. Participants also become eligible to purchase a discounted tri-area lift pass, saving $400.
“Honestly it’s a good incentive to get people out and learn a little bit more about their community,” Bowden said.
Public sessions are available at the Whyte Museum — tailored for those who have just moved to town — and at the YWCA, for people who are returning to Banff for the season. Businesses are also scheduling private sessions for their employees.
“It’s a great way for employers to let their employees know there is a community here,” LaRocque said, noting around 90 per cent of those attending the courses have been in town less than three months.
“It helps build their passion for being here. They’re already pretty passionate about being in Banff, but this helps connect them to this place and the landscape.”
Bowden said without the buy-in of local businesses, Parks Canada and the town, the rejuvenated program wouldn’t have been possible.
“I think everyone gets it that’s it’s a good investment for staff,” he said, noting employees educated about the area can provide more detailed information to guests, improving visitor experience.
“This may not be possible in other destinations, but here it’s been a success story.”
Bowden and LaRocque won’t be the only locals waiting to see if they’ve won an Alto Award on Monday.
In the Marketing Excellence ($10,000 - $25,000) category, Canmore Go Beyond, The Studio Group Marketing + Communications has been nominated.
In the Marketing Excellence (over $25,000) category, the 2011/12 Social Media Campaign by Sunshine Village is nominated.
Also in the Service Excellence category is Canmore’s Stoneridge Mountain Resort.
And Banff Lake Louise Tourism/ the Town of Banff have been nominated for Tourism Community of the Year.
Next Banff Ambassador Program sessions
At the YWCA’s Great Room
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 9-10 a.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 7-8 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 9-10 a.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7-8 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 9-10 a.m.
At the Whyte Museum’s Hall
Thursday, Nov. 1, 9-10 a.m.
Thursday, Nov. 8, 4-5 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 15, 9-10 a.m.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 9-10 a.m.
Thursday, Dec. 6, 9-10 a.m.
For a full listing of program dates, visit banffambassador.com