By Maureen Werther
The Glens Falls Collaborative is exploring the possibility of developing a wide-ranging hospitality training initiative to promote Glens Falls as a destination for businesses, tourism and entertainment.
The training would involve people who have the most occasion to interact with visitors to the city, such as the sales clerks in convenient stores, restaurant workers and others who have daily opportunities to talk to visitors about what their city has to offer, according to organizers of the program.
Richard Cirino, president of the Glens Falls Collaborative, said the group has sent out questionnaires to approximately 600 different organizations to gauge demand for the training initiative.
“The questionnaire will help us decide how to move forward. After we decide if the demand is there, we will begin to determine how to fund and implement the training,” said Cirino.
The idea for a city-wide training initiative, that would give employees the education and tools to promote the region, evolved from a conversation about constructing a “welcome center” in Glens Falls.
“Then we started to think about it and we gradually began to move away from a physical center to cultivating a hospitality mentality,” said Cirino. He added that people working as clerks in convenient stores and retail shops should be thought of as hospitality workers.
“These are the people on the front lines. If we can give them more knowledge of the area, they can help visitors see and discover things that they may otherwise have been unaware of,” he said.
One of the training ideas being talked about would be a “get acquainted” bus tour. Members of the Glens Falls work force could see, firsthand, different attractions in the area so they would be better informed when interacting with visitors to the region.
“It’s a real tragedy if a visitor left early, without seeing the Rembrandt at the Hyde Collection because no one suggested that visiting the Hyde on a rainy day would be a great idea,” said Cirino.
If the questionnaires indicate that there is an interest in pursuing the training initiative, the implementation would be a group effort that would include the Glens Falls Business Improvement District, the city of Glens Falls, the Adirondack Chamber of Commerce and various businesses and nonprofit organizations.
There have also been preliminary discussions about the possibility of SUNY Adirondack developing a formal training program in hospitality.
The Glens Falls Collaborative’s mission is to promote Glens Falls as a great place to live, work and play. It was incorporated in 2012 and started with 12 members. Since then, it’s membership has risen to include more than 126 organizations. Cirino is one of the original members and just recently took on the role of president. He and his wife are lifelong residents of Glens Falls, as well as former small business owners in the area.