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Southern Hospitality: Welcome To Rutherford County, We're Glad You're Here

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Photographs provided by RCTDA.

Some of our best and worst experiences often involve something as simple as what is said to us. A polite 'hello' or 'thank you' spoken at just the right moment can make a bad day better in an instant. We all know that a genuine smile can brighten even the darkest hours and a kind gesture can shape our opinion of someone we've just met.

When someone comes to visit us at our homes, southern hospitality dictates that we make that visit as pleasant as possible. Offers of sweet tea and a slice of pie are just the beginning and are usually followed up with a 'Make yourself at home,' and 'Can I get you anything else?' It's just good manners and here in the South, it's kind of mandatory. We're known for our 'southern charm' and accents... it's the badge of honor we proudly wear.

With all the wonderful assets surrounding us here in the county, it's no wonder we get a lot of visitors and the upcoming World Equestrian Games will be bringing thousands of visitors from all across the planet. The huge economic impact of their arrival will trickle through the community as they dine in our restaurants, fill our hotel rooms and shop in our stores. There are many 'guesstimates' about how much revenue they will generate, but the fact is, it will be significant and it will be beneficial to all of us. The time for Southern Hospitality has never been more important than it is now.

Forward thinking RCTDA (Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority) has addressed this and is offering, free to the public, a series of videos that will illustrate how we, as a community, can ensure that our 'guests' have a pleasant stay. Designed primarily for our service industry workers, the information the videos provide is vital for them, but is also relevant for the rest of us. These visitors may ask for you directions or recommendations. They might even bit a bit nervous and unsure of their surroundings. Any one of us could come into contact with them and as such, we are all ambassadors of the town, county, state and in some cases, country. Our contact, great or small, can have a tremendous impact on them.

The Visitor Journey A2D™ program is open to anyone interested in learning more about our local tourism and helping visitors. When you sign up, you'll receive immediate access to the Online Course and be able to choose a Live Class session that fits your schedule. The program is Free! Go to RutherfordCounty.VisitorJourney.com to register in the A2D Learning Center and get started on your journey. In the fall, RCTDA will partnering with ICC at their Coffee Talks meeting where they will offer all Rutherford County Stakeholders the one minute ambassador program. You will find additional information about this at www.visitncsmalltowns.com.

If we, as a community, just do what we always do and exhibit our southern charm, the likelihood of our guests having a positive experience increases dramatically. Their presence here is advantageous to all of us in many ways and a happy guest is likely to return. So, if by chance, you happen to come into contact with one of our visiting guests, just smile and with your perfect southern accent say, "Welcome to Rutherford County. We're glad you're here!"

Visitor Journey A2D™ is a new tourism awareness training program that helps everyone in our destination create positive visitor experiences from their Arrival to Departure, or from A2D! Highly customized for our area, this course helps our entire community learn more about the richness of what we offer visitors. This program was designed to increase awareness of how all of the tourism sectors fit together to build the visitor's total experience. And, how one person's actions can create a snowball effect of negative - or positive - encounters.

Visitor Journey A2D™ is a blended-learning program presented in two parts. The first part is an online course. There are seven short modules filled with videos, activities and quizzes about our area and helping visitors. The entire course takes about 75-90 minutes to complete, but you can come and go and finish it at your own pace. Next you can attend a 60-75 minute live class. The engaging class gives you the opportunity to share what you know and to learn from others in our community. For those that complete both parts, you'll achieve your Rutherford County Visitor A2D Champion™ certificate! For non-industry citizens, you're welcomed to go as far as you desire. For industry workers, your employer may require competition.

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