Santa Monica has so many things to offer, a rich history, and over 5 million visitors a year. The “I am Santa Monica” program was developed through a partnership between the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the City of Santa Monica, and Santa Monica College to help businesses and their employees as well as residents become more informed about what Santa Monica has to offer.
The program’s goal is make everyone who participates a “Santa Monica Ambassador” so they can be helpful when City visitors ask their advice on where to eat, shop, sightsee, and play. It began in March of 2008 and so far about 1,300 people have participated. The program is geared towards those who work in hotels, restaurants, retail, and as taxi drivers because of their constant contact with City visitors.
On an average day, Santa Monica has about 15,300 visitors, about half of them are here for the first time, and about 48 percent of them come from abroad. This translates into a lot of income for both local businesses and the City.
Santa Monica’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Vice-President of Sales and Services, Alison Best, told the Mirror that many of the people who work in Santa Monica know very little about the City so the program can really make them more valuable to their business and the City.
Program participants begin with an hour bus tour of the City highlighting the City’s different shopping districts, beaches, arts and culture, attractions, and the many activities offered. The program then continues with a 2-hour interactive workshop.
The workshop focuses on the Santa Monica destination brand promise that “Santa Monica … the best way to discover L.A.; an unforgettable beach city experience filled with eye-catching people, cutting edge culture and bold innovations. It’s the essence of the California lifestyle.”
Workshop attendees also get a chance to learn about the many issues the City deals with. Topics covered in a recent workshop were City prohibitions for outdoor smoking in public places, homelessness, panhandling, safety, traffic, and parking. They also learn about how to improve their customer service skills and how to respect cultural differences.
Customized classes are also available for 20 or more at local businesses. Two businesses that have participated in the program are the Fairmont Hotel and the Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Park.
A more in depth 13-hour class is being developed that will be offered for credit at Santa Monica College. Also in development is a shopping tour for this fall, a arts and culture tour for next spring, and a job bank.
More information can be found at santamonica.com.