Travel Alberta

Awards celebrate visitor information service gems

Albertans who go the extra mile to help travellers at visitor information centres have been recognized with Ammy Awards. 

Named for Alberta’s official gemstone, ammolite, Ammy Awards honour visitor information centre staff who exemplify the warmth and hospitality the province is known for through creative and professional approaches to meeting visitors’ needs.

The 4th annual awards were presented at the Badlands Community Facility in Drumheller on September 15. Travel counsellors, supervisors, managers and other representatives of visitor information centres were gathered at the facility for the Alberta Visitor Information Providers (AVIP) Conference.

The 2014 Ammy Awards recognize individuals, projects, initiatives and improvements in the following categories:

Operational Excellence 

Best in Class – Hiring and Training 
  • Staff at the Calgary Tower visitor information centre created a scavenger hunt as a training activity that proved both educational and motivational. The activity provided staff with first-hand knowledge of local sites and attractions, providing insights to help determine appropriate referrals for visitors. It also helped build a stronger team as well as relationships with contacts in the community.
Best in Class – Innovation 
  • Staff at the High River visitor information centre set up a remote site, serving visitors in various locations as the downtown core was rebuilding after the 2013 flood. They helped raise the profile of the town’s tourism department and extended their professional travel counselling services to a broader audience with almost no impact on overall budget. Travel counsellors served 48% of their summer visitors at remote locations and became an invaluable resource for travellers and community businesses.

Visitor Service Excellence

Best in Class – Visitor Services
  • Staff at the Camrose visitor information centre responded to the needs of their community by marketing a large range attractions and destinations to them, supporting their travel needs both locally and abroad. Providing this information also helped residents be excited about where they live, creating local advocates for tourism.

Facility Excellence

Best in Class – Visitor Facilities and Amenities
  • Staff at the Grande Prairie visitor information centre, in partnership with the City of Grande Praire and its chamber of commerce, responded to visitor comments and needs by adding new amenities and enhanced programs. This includes designated RV parking, adding a gift store, installing a touch screen information kiosk, weekly bus tours and a free weekly BBQ.

Individual Excellence

Best in Class – Travel Counselling 
  • Madeline Lajoie has consistently gone above and beyond for each individual visitor in her 18 years at the Calgary International Airport visitor information centre. She is fluent in French, English and Spanish and has learned phrases in 9 different languages to assist visitors. She has also stayed with visitors well past closing to make sure they are looked after.
Best in Class – Leaders in Visitor Information Centre Management
  • Zoe Welsh, first time site supervisor in Crowsnest Pass, created an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual support and respect with her team. This translated into positive relationships with her team and visitors alike. Zoe was very pro-active and persistent in her approach to improve and resolve products, services and issues, such as turning complaints into an initiative.

Award applications were submitted by organizations that manage Alberta’s more than 130 community, regional and provincial visitor information centres. Staff and managers were nominated by their peers for individual accolades. 

Alberta Culture and Tourism