The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is spearheading a new program, aimed at educating locals about Fernie so they can be representatives of the town. The program came out in the late summer and gives participants the opportunity to learn about the community and to better their customer service skills through the program.
“The Fernie Ambassador program came about in August. The Chamber held a session about winter planning we wanted to make sure everyone was ready fro winter. Out of that came this idea to make sure that we have the best experience possible for our guests. One way to do that is to make sure that everyone who is interacting with our guests has the best knowledge available to them,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Patty Vadnais in an interview with The Free Press.
Volunteers and a task force are heading the program, and include businesses such as the College of the Rockies, Fernie Super 8, Fernie Shuttle, Fernie Lodging Company, Grow Children’s Boutique, EK Employment and Park Vacation Management. Since August the group has been able to develop the content of the course and make the program available to the public.
The first program was Nov. 27, and had 18 of the possible 20 spots filled. Vadnais said the overall feedback was “really positive and the people had a great time,” and that the group was not entirely comprised of Fernie newcomers.
“We had business owners that have had shops here in town for a while, and we had a hotel send most of their staff as well,” said Vadnais.
The course is four hours long. The portion at the College of the Rockies is focused on customer service skills while the second portion takes place in the museum and is focused on the town itself, from local legends to activity trails.
“The museum curator Ron [Ulrich] and Lori [Bradish] take a little bit of time and give them some history and then they take some time to look around and see what’s in the museum and where else they can find that information,” Vadnais said.
“They talk about the legend of the Ghostrider, the fires in town [and] the mountains around town, so you can name all the mountains. You can name what is a family friendly bike ride, they will know immediately, ‘you can go on lazy lizard because that’s a great family trail’,” said Vadnais. “We are really excited about the program and the College of the Rockies has been great.”
The Chamber is currently trying to make another component to the program that encourages ambassadors to try some of the things that Fernie offers.
“Participating businesses can offer discounts to others that have taken the course. That piece is more to encourage people to try all things Fernie. To get a taste of the different opportunities and what we have to offer. So you get a discount on a fat tire bicycle or a snowboard so you can go try those sorts of things.”
There are three upcoming Ambassador Programs seminars, with the first being held on Dec. 9. Following seminars will be held on Dec. 15 and Dec. 18.