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Rutgers-Newark and Partners To Provide WorldHost® Visitor Service Training

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Partners Include Tourism, Economic, and Workforce Development Organizations

On Thursday, June 27, 2013, the Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP) at Rutgers-Newark hosted and facilitated the inaugural workshop of WorldHost/Rutgers-Newark Visitor Service Training Program. The all-day workshop session was held in Rutgers-Newark’s Paul Robeson Campus Center.

“The WorldHost/Rutgers-Newark Visitor Service Training Program provides an innovative and timely opportunity for Greater Newark residents to prepare for our community’s growing tourism and hospitality industry,” said Dr. Diane Hill, Assistant Chancellor of University-Community Partnerships. “Through this program, we are collaborating with several local entities to help close a critical information gap so that area residents are equipped to become a part of a growing workforce or even begin to think strategically about entrepreneurship.”

To offer the training, OUCP partnered with tourism, economic, and workforce development organizations including the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brick City Development Corporation, Newark Workforce Investment Board, and Newark One-Stop Career Center. Through the collective efforts of all of the partners, in less than a week, the program attracted over 30 area residents to participate in the inaugural class.

 “The fact that we registered so many participants so quickly suggests that Newark residents are eager to maximize opportunities that tourism has to offer, and that they are ready to welcome visitors to Newark and share their community pride. This inaugural class was very engaged and excited to be a part of our program,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, Associate Director of OUCP who facilitated the visitor services training session. “Because of the workshop, they now know that Super Bowl Media Day is being hosted at Prudential Center next January. It was exciting to discuss with them the possibilities of Newark as a tourist destination.”

Now that a successful first workshop has been completed, OUCP will become an official licensee of WorldHost Training Services. WorldHost, a program of Destination British Columbia in Canada, was launched as the SuperHost program in 1985, offering customer service training for EXPO '86 in British Columbia. Since then, the program has expanded to become an internationally recognized leader in training for the tourism industry.

“Bringing WorldHost to Newark not only will help prepare us for Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day but also will provide a lasting legacy for the city” remarked Michael Davidson, Executive Director of the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Tourism is considered one of the major industries in the state, bringing in over $2.9 billion in spending in Essex County alone. Tourism represents 10.2% of the county's workforce and WorldHost training will undoubtedly help prepare Newark as it evolves into a premier travel destination.”

Lyneir Richardson, CEO of Brick City Development Corporation, said, “BCDC is pleased that we were able to provide seed capital from a Victoria Foundation grant for this opportunity, which enabled residents to access workforce development training applicable to the tourism and hospitality industries.  With so many visitors coming to the city who are staying in our new hotels, eating in our first-class restaurants and enjoying the many major events and programs sponsored at our cultural institutions, this program is another way BCDC was able to generate potential job leads that connects residents to this positive economic development progress.”

As a way to engage youth from the Newark community, the Newark Workforce Investment Board placed Newark College Interns to work with OUCP during the summer to help plan and implement the training workshop. The interns are Newark residents, the majority of whom also are Rutgers-Newark students.  During the fall semester, the interns will be prepared not only to serve as visitor service representatives, but also to serve as visitor service trainers for colleges and universities in the Greater Newark community.

 “I found the WorldHost/Rutgers-Newark Visitor Service Training Program to be an extremely useful workshop,” said Deborah Flamengo, a Newark College Intern and senior psychology major at Rutgers-Newark. “The program covered everything from first impressions to good customer service, to Newark’s ability to become a popular tourist attraction. I was able to further improve my job skills and am looking forward to seeing the city of Newark expand and improve and fulfill its potential as a tourist attraction.”

Over the next several months leading up to the Super Bowl, OUCP and its community partners plan to host additional workshops as part of an educational Tourism and Hospitality Development Series. While the Super Bowl served as a catalyst for initiating the program, the goal is to sustain it beyond this event toward creating a tourism and hospitality culture in Newark.

“A goal of the Newark Workforce Investment Board is to strengthen the linkage between community development and workforce development by insuring that each investment made in either area provides opportunities for employment and skills development for Newark residents,” said Nelida Valentin, Executive Director of the Newark Workforce Investment Board.  “The WorldHost/Rutgers-Newark Visitor Service Training Program provides a valuable credential and opens up opportunities for employment in a sector that is certainly growing in the Newark region.  We look forward to seeing many more residents successfully complete this training and earn a valuable certificate to add to their credentials in the hospitality industry.”

CONTACT: Rutgers-Newark Office of University-Community Partnerships;  (973) 353-1630; Rolando Herts, rherts@newark.rutgers.edu

FOr more information on OUCP: http://oucp.newark.rutgers.edu/