The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 31, 2014

Workshop to help businesses become 'Texas Friendly'

Staff Reports
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE —

Offering good customer service is a goal many businesses already offer, but now, Palestine businesses and its employees can be certified “Texas Friendly” — helping with local and regional tourism initiatives.

On Feb. 17, the Texas Forest Trail Region (TFTR), in partnership with the Palestine Economic Development Corp. and Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce, will offer a Texas Friendly Customer Service workshop for local businesses.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ben E. Keith Hospitality Room, 2019 W. Oak St. in Palestine.

“This program is a great opportunity for Palestine businesses and employees to learn some very valuable tools to better serve their customers and clients,” Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Marc Mitchell said. “These customer service skills learned in this program can be used from the frontline employee to the management staff.”

Texas Forest Trail Executive Director Marty Prince, a certified hospitality trainer, will teach participants about the fundamentals of customer service, opportunities for tourism development, and ways to make the Palestine area a tourist-friendly place. All participants will be “Texas Friendly” certified at the conclusion of day.

“Offering excellent customer service to your customers is the best and easiest advertising your business can do for itself,” Prince said. “This workshop will give employees the skills they need to keep customers coming back and bringing their friends.”

The second session will focus on Positively Palestine: a local initiative on destination training.

Attendees will be given the opportunity to network with one another, learn about happenings throughout the city and information about the history and culture of the area.

“Positively Palestine is an initiative to inspire community members and hospitality industry employees to become knowledgeable, trusted ambassadors for our visitors,” said Breezy Lake-Wolfe, marketing manager for the City of Palestine and TFTR president-elect. “When an employee knows the history of their community, the attractions and happenings, they have provided a positive experience that will entice visitors to stay longer and to keep coming back. Partnering with the Texas Forest Trail Region and using their resources is a vital key to us becoming a 'Texas Friendly' destination and to help spread the word about our great community.”

The cost to attend the workshop is $10 per person. Registration is required and payable to the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce by cash or check. Cost includes workshop, all workshop materials, and lunch.

Participants may pre-register through Feb. 13, online at www.texasforesttrail.com/toolkit or by phone or in person through the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce at 401 W. Main St. in Palestine; or by calling 903-729-6066.

The Texas Forest Trail Region is a regional tourism initiative developed by the Texas Historical Commission that fosters regional economic development by promoting heritage tourism through the preservation of cultural and historic resources and regional partnerships. The Texas Forest Trail Region encompasses 35 counties in East Texas including Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Franklin, Gregg, Hardin, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Marion, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Panola, Polk, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Walker and Wood.

For more information about scheduling a Texas Friendly Hospitality Training session for your community or organization or to receive information about the Feb. 17 workshop, contact Prince at 936-560-3699 or txforesttrail@gmail.com or visit www.texasforesttrail.com/toolkit.