Prepping for the Pope

Published: August 24, 2015


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: John Golden
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Prepping for the Pope

Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board Offers Tips for Area Attractions During World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (Aug. 18, 2015) - With the World Meeting of Families and associated Papal Visit just weeks away, excitement and anticipation is escalating.

Virtually every single member business of the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is sure to be involved, whether a hotel, restaurant, family-friendly destination, transportation service or historical site, hospitality-related businesses and attractions can expect noticeable increases in their business for the entire period of September 21-28.

"I know our members are going to roll out the red carpet in a big way to welcome guests, visitors and customers from across the globe with the stellar service that has become the hallmark of our county's tourism industry. We hope that positive experience will inspire first-time visitors to return to Montgomery County again and again," said Mike Bowman, VFTCB President.

The following is a list of suggestions by VFTCB for Montgomery County area businesses to consider, well in advance of the late-September timeframe:

  • Brush up on multiculturalism. According to Catholic News Service, 15,000 attendees to the World Meeting of Families had registered by late June 2015. The most common countries represented outside the U.S. are Canada, Vietnam, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Establishments should know that they very well may be welcoming guests for whom English is not a native language, or who may have foreign currency exchange needs.
  • Consider your operational hours. Sessions that comprise the congress portion of the World Meeting of Families generally start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 5:15 p.m. Hotel guests may be looking for early breakfasts or later dinners to accommodate their travel needs to/from Philadelphia. Media members or security officials may require meals at nontraditional times. Families seeking to fill early evening hours with children might appreciate extended business hours for family-friendly outings.
  • Don't forget the kids. Children are being encouraged to join their parents in participating in the World Meeting of Families. The week of the event, the guests at hotels or restaurants may need special set up of cribs, bed rails, electrical outlet caps or, food-wise, kid-friendly menus.
  • Staff up. Increased volume at tourism-related places of business may require additional hands to accommodate. Businesses should address staffing needs early.
  • Think through your employees' commuting needs. Travel throughout Montgomery County is apt to be more difficult than usual, especially during the weekend the Pope is in town. The VFTCB suggests that staff members share rides or use nontraditional means (bicycling?). Build extra time into shift changes. Commuters County-wide should check with their local townships for proposed road closures, etc.
  • Be prepared to provide information you may not ordinarily handle. If ever there were a time for employees to be accurately conversant about details in Montgomery County, this is it. VFTCB's website is a comprehensive guide to visitor aids like operating hours, phone numbers and special events, including Valley Forge Family Day.
  • Adopt an attentive - but discreet - approach to security. Benjamin Visnov of Echelon Protection & Surveillance in Limerick, Pa., recommends having a well-rehearsed, up-to-date emergency plan in place and ensuring that communicated to all employees. He says a reminder for all hospitality workers to remain attentive and alert, while still being welcoming, is the best security approach to a large influx of visitors.

About Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County, Pa., as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 300-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The VFTCB recently went through a top to bottom rebranding of the organization. It launched a new "Let Freedom Reign" branding campaign in May 2014, which has quickly generated new excitement and interest in Montgomery County and its numerous tourism and convention destinations. The campaign included a traveling #MakeItMontco kiosk, which has already visited more than 20 locations, a multimedia advertising campaign, a robust media relations campaign, "whistlestop" tours through Montgomery County towns to educate residents and elected officials about the new campaign, and a new website. The VFTCB's award-winning website, valleyforge.org, serves visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and residents, as well as hosts The Pursuit, a nationally recognized twice-weekly blog.

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