Our Culture of Customer Service Creates Positive Economic and Community Development Possibilities in New River Gorge Region

In December 2020, Congress designated the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve as the nation’s newest national park. It was cause for considerable celebration and remains one of our most valuable assets in our region.

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By Judy Moore

In December 2020, Congress designated the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve as the nation’s newest national park. It was cause for considerable celebration and remains one of our most valuable assets in our region.

As the National Park signage was unveiled, I will never forget the call to action our U.S. Senators issued to local leaders when they said the federal park designation would forever change the dynamics of the New River Gorge region. They challenged us, and empowered us to become ambassadors, to rise to the occasion to create an experience that would rival the natural treasures we are blessed with in the river, trails, hunting, fishing and history to offer our new visitors. And, in the midst of this excitement, what an amazing opportunity the National Park is providing for our businesses and the growth of our local communities!

As a response to that Congressional challenge, the West Virginia Hive, the entrepreneurship program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), recently announced a regional initiative to improve customer service among frontline businesses, which will kick off March 25-26 with a customized and personalized training workshop at the Tamarack Conference Center.

Judy Moore

The WV Hive will offer best of class training to help the New River Gorge region and southern West Virginia surpass expectations for visitor experiences, business transactions, and overall customer service and hospitality. Every dollar people spend in our region and every person who decides to relocate here or return for more visits is an economic multiplier for our community and economic betterment.

The WV Hive is partnering with regional chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, business leaders and others to promote the training sessions, titled “growing your business through a culture of service.”

Enhancing our “culture of service” targets a strategic priority for NRGRDA and the WV Hive in improving the New River Gorge region’s “quality of place.” Global editors of National Geographic recently added the regional and national park to its “Best of World” list. Our region is in the national spotlight right now, and we need to do everything possible to equip our businesses to be better prepared to offer a quality experience to ensure we retain our citizens and encourage return visits.

On June 23, 2022, Senator Shelley Moore Capito announced the significant economic impact the redesignation of the national park and preserve has had on our region.

Senator Capito said the National Park Service’s 2021 National Park Visitor Spending Effects report found that since the redesignation, visitor spending in communities near the Park and Preserve resulted in a $35.2 million benefit to the state’s economy and supported 1,090 jobs in West Virginia. In addition, in 2021, nearly 1.7 million park visitors spent an estimated $82.6 million in local gateway regions while visiting our area — 88.1% of the visitors were from out-of-state.

The WV Hive has contracted with the professional business training firm — Zingerman’s — to offer its tested, research-based “ZingTrain” learning concepts, which will be personalized and customized for the New River Gorge region. The 40-year-old company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., was recently called the “Coolest Small Company in the Country” by Inc. magazine.

I hope you will plan to attend the March 25-26 foundational training sessions at Tamarack. Research has shown enhanced customer service makes a genuine difference: 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience; and 84% of organizations that focus on improving customer service see measurable increases in revenue.

Thanks to the support of the WV Hive, the training session – valued at $1,500 – is available to registrants at only $50 per person, plus taxes and fees. Snacks, beverages and lunch are included each day. Register to attend here.

For specific questions, please contact Hannah Morgan at the WV Hive – hmorgan@nrgrda.org (304) 460-4483. Ext. 114

Judy Moore is executive director of the West Virginia Hive and deputy director of the NRGRDA. She is a Nicholas County resident and contributes her talents to the WV Community Development Hub, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts, and WV Women’s Business Center (advisory board).

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