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Contact: Contact: Teri Gage, Commercial Services Manager, 870/365-2702
Earlier this week Buffalo National River launched a Community Partners program that is intended to improve visitor information services and strengthen communications and relationships with local businesses and organizations.
In announcing the program, Superintendent Kevin Cheri explained, "With more than a million people visiting the park each year we recognize that there are many businesses and organizations in our gateway communities that provide information about the park to visitors. We want to acknowledge the contributions of these important partners and work more closely with them to ensure that they have the most current information to provide to visitors."
The park sponsored an eight-hour training session held at the Durand Center on Tuesday, attended by 38 people representing 16 different organizations. Scott Sudduth of the Arkansas Hospitality Association kicked off the day with First Impressions training, designed to give those who attend the confidence and skills to "WOW" visitors with a great and memorable guest services experience. Sudduth encouraged participants to capitalize on the Ozark culture and southern hospitality that visitors find so appealing. The First Impressions training was followed by an intense and comprehensive session conducted by park rangers that covered everything from floating, hiking, and camping to horseback riding and park history.
"Within the park, we have several avenues for providing visitor information – visitor centers, roving interpreters, bulletin boards, website, social media. But nothing beats word of mouth," commented Teri Gage, Commercial Services Manager for Buffalo National River. "We know that visitors really enjoy the personal one-on-one experience, whether it's with a park ranger, a canoe rental employee, or a local inn keeper. We hope to improve visitor experience and satisfaction by ensuring that our Community Partners have accurate and current information to provide to visitors and an understanding of how to present that information in an engaging manner."
Upon completion of the training the participating organizations received a framed certificate identifying them as a Community Partner of Buffalo National River that they can display at their place of business. The Community Partners will be added to the park's mailing list to receive updated information resources,pressreleases, notices of special events, and safety information. The following businesses and organizations completed the training and received Community Partner certificates: Arkansas Welcome Center of Harrison, Big Springs Restaurant, Buffalo Camping and Canoeing, Buffalo National River Partners, Buffalo Outdoor Center, Buffalo Point Concession, Buffalo River Canoes, Buffalo River Float Service, Buffalo River Outfitters, Dirst Canoe Rentals, Goodman Realty Arkansas, Gordon Motel, Lost Valley Canoe and Lodging, Searcy County Chamber of Commerce, Silver Hill Float Service, and Wild Bill's Outfitter.
The park has plans to expand the Community Partners program by offering annual training and certification to area businesses and organizations. For more information about the Community Partner Program, please contact Commercial Services Manager Teri Gage at (870) 365-2702.