We at MessageMakers consider ourselves ambassadors for the Greater Lansing area—its beauty, its world-class resources. It's a great place to work.
So we were excited to discover the Greater Lansing Tourism Ambassadors Program,
a nationwide certification program seeking to create positive, memorable experiences for visitors to the area and to build knowledge of the attractions of the area.
MM staffers Linda Burnham and Rebekah Cathey, now Certified Tourism Ambassadors (CTAs), had a chance to attend this one-day program to learn more about what makes our home of Lansing such a great place.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Rebekah. “We had to read a 150 page packet beforehand and I loved it. As someone who doesn’t read much for entertainment, that’s a big deal.”
She means the pre-reading each person attending the course was assigned. The booklet included history of the Greater Lansing area, as well as requirements, expectations, tips and information for all future CTAs.
“My favorite bit of information we learned about Lansing was about the early history here,” said Linda. “The Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes were the first residents of our region. They were called the Council of the Three Fires, and established their encampments near the Grand, Red Cedar and Looking Glass Rivers. Today, we know that area as our Lansing River Trail.”
Rebekah was equally impressed.
“Some old stories I had heard about Lansing were confirmed,” said Rebekah, “Like the fact that when the first settlers from New York came here, they were actually being swindled. What we now know as REO Town was underwater for most of the year back then, and only a few stayed, Jacob Cooley [sound familiar?] becoming the first permanent resident in what they named Lansing Township. Little did they know they were settling what would become the capital of Michigan.”
In addition to the interesting stories about Lansing and Michigan history, Linda and Rebekah learned about the importance and rewards of becoming a CTA.
“As a long-time resident of Lansing and a MessageMakers employee, I can now confidently promote a positive image and perspective of Lansing to our clients,” said Rebekah. “Many people don’t realize how much there is to do in this town, like actual rock-climbing and the wide variety of nightlife, for example.”
“The history of Lansing is unique. We have culture, history, government, and fun all rolled into one town. Not everyone can say that!”
As a nationwide program, CTAs from all over the US can learn more about their towns and cities.
“It makes it easier and better to recommend activities to tourists. You can tailor your recommendations to their interests because you know so much,” Rebekah said. “It’s all a part of ‘branding’ your town. It’s how your visitors will think of you when they leave.”
Becoming a CTA also provided these MM employees with other resources, such as helpful websites and a smart phone application that, using your phone's GPS, provides information on nearby restaurants, museums, activities and festivals happening around you.
“We were encouraged to take the course so we would be aware of how wonderful Lansing is,” said Linda, “and in turn, provide every visitor with wonderful experiences so they’ll want to come back.”
“And it worked!” she added. “Rebekah and I were queens of the trivia portion of the class. We won dozens of Hershey’s Kisses that day, more than anyone else.”