• Prepping for the Pope

     
    POSTED September 17, 2015
     

With the impending World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit just one week away, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board is prepping for the event and the business it is likely to draw and inspiring businesses across the area.

"I know our members are going to roll out the red carpet in a big way to welcome guests, visitors and customers from across the globe with the stellar service that has become the hallmark of our county's tourism industry,” says Mike Bowman, president, VFTCB We hope that positive experience will inspire first-time visitors to return to Montgomery County again and again.”

The CVB compiled the below list for business to consider participating in before next week’s visit:

  • Brush up on multiculturalism. According to Catholic News Service, in June 2015, 15,000 World Meeting of Families attendees were registered. Aside from the U.S., countries include Canada, Vietnam, Mexico and the Dominican Republican. Businesses should prep for working with guests who may not have English as their native language or might need to exchange foreign currency.
  • Reassess your operational hours. The congress sessions of the WMF typically go from 8:30 am to 5:15 p.m. Hotel guests may hope to have early breakfasts or late dinners. Media members or security officials might need meals at nontraditional times, and families looking to fill early evening hours with children might appreciate extended business hours for family-friendly outings. Consider changing hours during this time.
  • Keep the kids in mind. Children are encouraged to join their parents in the World Meeting of Families pasrticipation. During the event, hotel guests or restaurant visitors may need cribs, bedrails, electrical outlet caps and/or kid-friendly menus.
  • Increase staff. The higher volume of visitors at tourism-related businesses may call for a larger team. Staff needs should be addressed now.
  • Consider commuting needs. Travel throughout Montgomery County will likely be more hectic than usual, especially the weekend the Pope is in town. The VFTCB suggests staff share rides or use nontraditional means such as biking and walking. Build extra time into shift changes. Make sure to check with your local townships for proposed road closures, etc.
  • Be prepared to provide information you may not ordinarily handle. It’s important employees know details about Montgomery County. The CVB’s website is a comprehensive guide to visitor aids featuring operating hours, phone numbers and special events.
  • Amp up security. Benjamin Visnov of Echelon Protection & Surveillance in Limerick, Pa., recommends having a well-rehearsed, up-to-date emergency plan in place and ensuring all employees are up to date. Remind all hospitality workers to stay attentive and alert, while still being welcoming. This is the best security approach for such a large amount of visitors that will be flocking to the area next week. 

"We have always done it this way" just doesn’t cut it anymore. The landscape of meeting planning is going through a quiet revolution, and the old rules no longer apply. Instead, they are being replaced with new treatments from the once-sacred conference tote bag to the way chairs in the ballroom are arranged. We talked to meeting planners who are creating fresher, more authentic approaches to your average meetings.  

From “Same Old” to “Can’t Miss”

 

There is nothing like the energy of a college campus as students return for the fall semester. By the time Labor Day hits, many students are itching to get back to their friends and return to routine, even at the cost of exams, papers, and presentations. 

 

Lauren Bennett McGinty took over as executive director of Explore Minnesota Tourism in November 2021. The longtime Minnesota resident who moved here from Milwaukee when she was four has thoughtful reasons about why she remains in the North Star State.

“I moved to Minneapolis after I graduated from [Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter], and I put my roots down here,” she says. “I think a lot of it is I continue to find something new everywhere I go, and the people here are just wonderful. We have such a diverse and rich culture. I love everything about it.”