Time is now to prepare for tourist onslaught

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By Jeff Moore


 Shining STAR Customer Service training program that I attended a couple of weeks ago is even more important to us now with the announcement that Kentucky Speedway will host a NASCAR Sprint Cup race July 9, 2011.

Carrollton and Carroll County have just a little more than 10 months to prepare for an onslaught of people like we have never experienced before as this race comes to Sparta. As the community closest to the raceway with lots of hotels, places to eat and to shop, we stand to benefit from the thousands of new people who will pour into the region that week in July 2011.

This Shining Star training, presented by Michelle Allen of Tour Southern and Eastern Kentucky for about 50 people at the library, stressed the importance of providing top-notch service to those coming to an area to visit and spend their dollars.

What people experience during a visit means a lot, Allen told folks attending this event.

When someone leaves and has a positive experience, they will usually tell two or three others about it. However, those who have a bad experience can really spread the word, she said. They usually tell eight or nine others and sometimes more.

Everyone who deals with customers in Carroll County needs to be ready to “shine” so our visitors will have a good experience and want to come back.

I’ve always prided myself on providing good service to customers, but I learned some great tips from Allen that I did not know.

The biggest is to write down directions that you provide to someone who is asking for help. I’ve always went over them verbally, hoping the folks will follow them and find their way.

This makes sense. They don’t know the local area, so by writing down the information, it’s much like offering your services as a GPS or Internet mapping system for our visitors .

We also need to intimately know our community, if we don’t already. Please don’t tell someone there is nothing to do here, when it’s exactly the opposite of that.

To begin getting up to speed, here are some of the things Allen recommends all of us should know:

• The location of nearby shopping.

• Information on our local tourist attractions.

• The area’s history.

• The location of our local campsites and boat docks.

• The local population.

• Location of nearby public golf courses.

• A great spot to picnic. • A place to go hiking.

• A good place to take a car for repairs.

• The location of the closest ATM.

If you don’t already know this information, pick up a free copy of the Discover Carroll County book and the Destinations and Diversions book that the newspaper publishes to help with your research.

For such a small community, we are fortunate to have a multitude of choices to provide visitors. If you haven’t experienced some of them, it’s a great time to be a tourist in your own community to learn more about it.

Go to General Butler State Resort Park and hike some of the trails, including the great one around Butler Lake. Drive down to Point Park and walk down to the Ohio River at the boat ramp there to see where the Ohio and the Kentucky rivers come together.

We can be ready for our Sprint Cup racing friends. We must do it to give them a good impression next year.

Anyone needing more information on the community can seek the assistance of the Carrollton/Carroll County Tourism office on Highland Avenue. They have loads of information that they have compiled for visitors to the county.

The most important advice that Allen offered was to avoid telling our guests that you don’t know. Instead, she recommends saying you can find out. Then place a call to the tourism office and they can help you assist this person and others wanting to take advantage of what we have to offer.


Jeff Moore is publisher of The News-Democrat and The Trimble Banner and resides in Carrollton. He also serves as president of the Carrollton Main Street Program.