The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has launched PHL Welcomes U!, a free online educational program that allows residents to earn the designation of a certified hospitality professional.
“The PHL Welcomes U! program emphasizes our organization’s and the city’s commitment to customer service,” said Jack Ferguson, president and CEO of the PCVB.
“We are known as the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection - and this program is a true testament to our efforts in making Philadelphia a world-class destination to live, work and visit.”
The online program is accessible via www.PHLwelcomesU.com and consists of six video modules covering a wide range of useful topics, including active listening and communication skills, connecting with guests and neighbors and embracing, managing and celebrating diversity.
Several organizations are sponsors and have already begun offering the program to employees and students, including the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, SugarHouse Casino, Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management and Philadelphia Academies, Inc. Other corporate sponsors include Liberty Property Trust, Starr Restaurants and the Philadelphia Freedom YMCA.
“We are extremely pleased to have our employees be among the first participants in the PHL Welcomes U! program,” said Susan Slawson, deputy commissioner for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
“In addition to our own employee training, Parks and Recreation will also be involved in making the program available to the public at recreation centers and libraries throughout the city, as a resource for job-seekers to distinguish themselves from other applicants.”
The PPA has been actively providing mandatory training sessions to taxi drivers operating in the city.
“As an organization whose employees play an integral role in the experiences of visitors to Philadelphia, the program is extremely valuable, especially our parking enforcement officers and taxi drivers,” said Susan Cornell, senior director of administration for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
“We are excited to be a sponsor and to continue our efforts to give visitors, tourists and residents alike a positive first and last impression in Philadelphia.”
Although conceptualized within the travel and tourism industry, the PHL Welcomes U! curriculum is geared toward creating PHL “ambassadors” within a variety of industry segments and special interest groups, including retail, education, transportation and city work. The experience gained through the courses will improve customer service skills, build confidence when interacting with the public and increase participants’ overall value as an employee and citizen.
“Temple University’s School of Tourism & Hospitality Management is extremely supportive of this program and what it offers to Philadelphia’s hospitality industry,” said Elizabeth Barber, associate dean and professor, STHM.
“The program supports the work we do and encourages participants to increase their marketable skills in preparation for employment within the hospitality industry.”
Philadelphia Academies Inc., an organization that prepares high-school students for employment and post-secondary education through career-focused programming, also endorsed the program and its benefits for job-seekers. PAI will partner with Philadelphia high schools so interested students can become certified.
“Philadelphia Welcomes U! integrates and develops 21st century skills needed by all Philadelphia students,” said Lisa Nutter, president of Philadelphia Academies Inc.
“The modules connect learning to relevant and relatable situations that integrate industry as well as academic content, exposing students to the 21st century skills employers across the country are seeking.”