"The goal with [the Hospitality Association] is certainly just to make everyone who's in the tourism/hospitality industry to be as hospitable as possible to our guests," said Tara Currier -- director of marketing for the Booth Western Art Museum -- who spearheaded the Hospitality Association with the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "And that entails being able to answer questions that people may have as far as where's a great place to stay, where is a special offer that's being [presented] at a restaurant or a hotel -- some package deals -- [and] what else is there to see or do in Cartersville/Bartow County?
"So in order to be able to answer that question, people need to be familiar with what all there is in Cartersville and Bartow County. So this FAM -- Familiarization -- Tour is just going to hit a few of the attractions that we have here. So we're just hoping that maybe some people who have never been to the Etowah Indian Mounds or visited Tellus Science Museum or Booth museum get a very quick preview of what it is so that it'll be fresh on their mind so that when they go back to their businesses, they go back to their hotels or restaurants, they can not only share that with the rest of the staff but certainly keep it in mind as they're answering guest questions about what they can do while they're here in Cartersville."
Along with representatives of the tourism and hospitality industry, Currier said interested residents also are welcome to attend the association's monthly meetings as well as the FAM Tour. With only 42 spots available on the first-come, first-served motor coach tour, people need to contact Currier as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-387-2833.
"The association was created with the intent to get everyone in the hotel, motel, restaurant, shopping-related industry involved," Currier said. "However, I truly think it is a community effort and it is open to anyone in the community. If you're a stay-at-home mom or if you're just an active volunteer within the community, we just want everyone to be enlightened on all that there is. I'm very passionate about Cartersville and Bartow County and just think that it's absolutely unique, certainly with the two Smithsonian affiliate museums we have and beautiful Red Top Mountain and the Etowah Indian Mounds.
"We just need to let people know what they're missing and what's right in their own backyard. If people will become more aware of that then hopefully they're going to tell their own family when they have more visitors and friends and they're just going to become more passionate about exploring what's in their own community. So I just encourage anyone who's interested in learning more about what we have to offer to participate, not only on the FAM Tour but to join us at any of those Hospitality Association meetings."
Since September, the Bartow County Hospitality Association has been meeting at various locations on the fourth Thursday of every month around 8:30 a.m. Depending on the program's topic, the gathering's attendance ranges from 10 to 30 people.
"The response has been very positive," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the local CVB. "There is no monetary investment by members in this association. It is truly open to anyone that has a business that is directly related to or benefits from tourism and hospitality in our community. ... The purpose is for primarily networking and information exchange so that every facet of our tourism industry is well educated on the other basically so that we can effectively share as much information about what our wonderful county has to offer, thereby increasing stays and developing new interests with people that do come to visit.
"When you have an attraction, such as Tellus museum that sees several hundred thousand visitors a year, we want to capture that visitor, give them multiple experiences so that they have fond memories and keep wanting to repeat those, keep wanting to come back to our communities."