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Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative

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The Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative was created by the Maine Woods Consortium to deliver a comprehensive, multi-modal training program to meet educational needs expressed by tourism businesses and their employees in the Maine Woods region. MWTTI began by organizing county networks of public and private training providers in Franklin, Piscataquis, and Washington counties and expanded in 2010 to include Aroostook, Oxford and Penobscot. Somerset County joined MWTTI in 2013 fulfilling the goal of having all seven Maine Woods counties participating in the program.

Since MWTTI began in 2010, county training networks have organized 98 workshops for local tourism businesses. Approximately 1,150 people attended these workshops, representing 595 businesses with 378 tourism specific businesses. Trainings primarily addressed topics including customer service, social media marketing, and Know Your Region training.

To help overcome the barriers that prevent small businesses from attending workshop training, the MWTTI Planning Team collaborated with the Maine Small Business Development Centers in 2010 to create a free basic customer service online workshop. To take this a step further and offer a more advanced training module with a certificate of completion, the Center for Tourism Research and Outreach at the University of Maine Business School partnered with MWTTI to develop Welcome ME (pronounced Welcome Maine). This free, high quality web-based customer service training focuses on the important components of delivering quality service and creating memorable experiences for customers. Click here to find out more about Welcome ME.

County networks are currently planning a next round of trainings for the fall. To learn more, contact Shaunacy Cobb at PlaceWorks Consulting – and (207) 779-6355, or a member of the Maine Woods Consortium Coordinating Team.

Upcoming Training

Spring training opportunities will be posted soon.

Recent Training

Aroostook County

  • Putting It Together: How to Build Itineraries & Packages
    April 24 in Caribou. Presented by the Maine Office of Tourism. Today's travelers expect more from their experience with you than just a place to sleep or a meal to satisfy their hunger. To provide superior customer service, tourism businesses of all types need to be able to help travelers discover Maine in new and meaningful ways suited just for them.

    In this workshop, you will learn:
    o    How to create and suggest itineraries for different types of customers either in advance to use in your marketing efforts or on the spot for great service.
    o    We'll also build innovative packages and specials that draw new customers and keep the existing ones coming back.
    o    How to increase your revenue and profits by developing a menu of experiences that will differentiate your business.
    o    Through hands-on activities, you'll identify potential partners and walk away with specials and packages ready to sell.

    By the end of the session, you'll worry less about getting your piece of the pie and be focused on making the pie bigger by working collaboratively with other businesses in new and innovative ways. The session will also include a personalized demonstration of how to use to market your business for FREE.

  • Getting Ready for Motorcoach
    April 24 in Caribou. The motorcoach industry is ready to expand into Aroostook. Are you ready? Margaret Hoffman from the Maine Office of Tourism will do an informational presentation on the motorcoach industry and how you can prepare your business to be motorcoach friendly. Come learn how to attract a new kind of tourist to your business.

  • Know Your Place – Market it Better
    November 13 in Caribou and Frenchville. November 14 in Houlton. Do you know how to use the local distinctiveness of Aroostook County to market your business? Local distinctiveness is a combination of the things that give a place its unique character.  Aroostook County has natural features, man-made features, heritage, culture, traditions, produce and industries that can be used as a powerful marketing tool. We have something that many places do not. Learn how to use that to your advantage. In this three hour session taught by Erica Quin-Easter from Women, Work, and Community, you will learn how to use your local distinctiveness to your advantage.

Franklin County

  • Social Media for Small Businesses & Organizations involved in Tourism 
    May 16 in Farmington.  Matt Rideout, Interactive Marketing Manager at Nancy Marshall Communications, will present this workshop. Participants will learn how to use social networking to reach new audiences for your business or organization. Matt will offers tips and techniques to maximize your use of social platforms.

  • The Pickle: The Next Chapter
    November 4 in Farmington. Denis Bouttenot of Central Maine Community College will conduct this training. This lively and interactive workshop emphasizes the importance of excellent customer service for the success of your business. Who should attend? Anybody who has an interest in customer service including frontline staff, waitstaff, bank tellers, business owners and managers!

  • The Business of Tourism: Marketing your business for success
    November 13 in Farmington. Michael Conley of the Maine Tourism Association will conduct this training. This engaging presenter is sure to entertain as he covers topics appropriate for any business interested in tapping into the vibrant tourism industry Franklin County has to offer. Topics covered in this workshop include best practices, and steps required to best market your business to capture the tourism industry.

Oxford County

  • How to use email marketing effectively & the basics of Constant Contact/Mail Chimp
    January 29 in Bethel. Shannon Kinney from Dream Local Digital will conduct this training. Just having a website and/or a Facebook page is no longer enough, you need to remind your customers that you exist.  Email marketing is low cost, simple, measurable and generates sales for your business.  It's one of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep customers and prospects coming back.  Learn how to target your customers; create, send, track and manage your emails; and grow your email list using Constant Contact and Mail Chimp email marketing systems.

  • Making the most of your business Facebook page
    June 19 in Newry. Shelley Bowen of the Phoenix House and Maine Energy Systems will conduct this training. In this workshop, you will learn how to turn your Facebook page into your biggest promotional and marketing asset by creating copy for postings, engaging your network, building a fan base, addressing negative comments/bad reviews, and learning the differences between traditional marketing and social media marketing.

  • Tapping Into Tourism for Non-tourism Businesses
    June 24 in Rumford. Getting a piece of the tourism pie takes planning, creativity, collaboration and a good knowledge of the basics. This workshop will explain industry terms, outline trade associations and destination marketing organizations and their roles, and most importantly connect you to resources in and around your community that can help your business be more successful. Emphasis will be on programs and opportunities that are free or very low cost. You'll leave the workshop understanding how the tourism industry in Maine works and ready to tackle your business plan to reach new customers.

  • Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing and Public Relations…Confused?
    December 11 in Bethel. Linda Varrell of Broadreach Public Relations will conduct this training. Marketing strategies, while sounding confusion, are actually converging. Today’s buyers are savvier and have at their fingertips myriad options to compare in order to make that all important buying decision. You understand traditional marketing channels and know that “yelling” at your potential customers through mass advertising no longer works.  But you have questions as to what does work.  What are the new strategies? How are they integrated? How do you measure what works and more importantly, what matters?

    In this session you will:
    o    Understand the consumer, both B2B and B2C (Business 2 Customer)
    o    Explore the new marketing landscape
    o    Question your current marketing plan and prospects
    o    Learn about setting measurable objectives and analyzing results
    o    Experience firsthand, how some of these new tools work and next steps you can implement

Penobscot County

  • FREE "Know Your Region" workshops
    March 26 in Patten and East Millinocket. Donna Fichtner, Adjunct Professor at Husson University and longtime tourism training specialist in Maine, conducted these trainings with help from local experts.

    Do you and your staff know how to respond when your customers ask, "What's there to do around here, anyway?" At this workshop, you will learn how to:
    o    Keep Katahdin area guests in the neighborhood longer
    o    Help visitors leave more $$ here (and at YOUR business)
    o    Give guests a reason to come back for more adventures.

  • Putting It Together: How to Build Itineraries & Packages
    November 13 in East Millinocket. This FREE workshop is presented by the Maine Office of Tourism. Today’s visitors expect more from their vacation experience than a simple wildlife tour, recreation opportunity or food and lodging. As the market changes, tourism businesses need to change too. Superior customer service is moving towards a new model focused on creating customized exploration itineraries and travel packages designed to highlight Maine in new and meaningful ways.  

    In this workshop, you will learn how to:
    o    Create and suggest itineraries for different types of customers either in advance as part of your marketing strategy or on the spot to offer great service.
    o    Build innovative packages and specials to draw in new customers and keep existing ones coming back.
    o    Increase your revenues by developing a menu of experiences that will differentiate your business.
    o    Network with other Katahdin Region businesses to optimize business opportunities through tourism.

    Through hands-on activities you'll identify potential partners and walk away with specials and packages ready to sell. By the end of the session you’ll worry less about getting your piece of the pie and be focused on making the pie bigger by working collaboratively with other businesses in new and innovative ways. The session will also include a personalized demonstration of how to use to market your business for FREE.

Piscataquis County 

  • Working Forest Bus Tour for Hospitality Workers: Help your guests appreciate Maine’s working forest 
    May 13 starting at the Moosehead Marine Museum in Greenville. This tour is for guides, lodging personnel, and other tourism-related workers interested in learning how working forests work. On this tour you will see a wood harvesting operation that uses sustainable practices and modern equipment. Then, you will “follow the wood” to Moose River Lumber to see it processed using high tech machinery. This tour is designed to help you enlighten your guests, enhance your customers’ experiences, and increase your value and bottom line!

  • Know Piscataquis County: What is there to do around here?
    August 27 in Dover-Foxcroft. Boost your knowledge for FREE at the “Know Your County” show presented by the Piscataquis Chamber, Moosehead Chamber and Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. This workshop will help you become an expert on your region’s assets, learn answers to visitors’ questions and enhance your customers’ experiences.

  • The Maine Woods Workshop: Uncovering secrets of the north woods
    October 15 in Monson. The purpose of this workshop is to deepen understanding of the natural and cultural history of the Maine Woods, and to provide practical tools that can engage visitors with experiences that cultivate curiosity and appreciation for people and place. Suggested participants include recreational guides, outdoor and cultural heritage leaders, tourism business owners and staff, and folks just plain interested in the outdoors. Roger Merchant will conduct this workshop.

Somerset County

  • Advanced Customer Service Training for Frontline Staff
    May 16 in Skowhegan and May 22 in The Forks. Kathleen Lewia, Kennebec Valley Community College, will conduct this training on the following topics:
    o    Learning to have patience, self-control and empathy when dealing with customers.
    o    Turn complaints into opportunities to grow your business.
    o    Turn high maintenance customers into lifelong customers.
    o    How to fix mistakes with customers.

    Registrants are strongly urged to complete the Welcome ME online customer service training program and to bring their certificates to the class.

  • Grow Your Business with Email & Social Media: Plus Facebook Training
    November 6 in Skowhegan and November 13 in The Forks. This two session training will be taught by Tracy O'Clair of TOCmedia.

    Session I: Grow Your Business with Email & Social Media
    Come learn how to develop a marketing plan based on your unique business needs using email and social media to connect to the audience that matters to you. In this workshop, small businesses and nonprofit organizations will learn easy-to-implement tactics for creating and measuring marketing campaigns without spending a lot of time or money. Participants will leave with plenty of ideas for timing their messages, writing winning subject lines, brainstorming offers or content to try, and how best to approach their next marketing campaign. This is a great class for beginners or anyone looking to grow their business in less time and with a small budget.

    Session II: Facebook Training Workshop
    Learn how to use Facebook to market and sell your products and services, as well as, create brand awareness. In this workshop we will cover basic Facebook functionalities and specific Facebook page marketing techniques. You will leave with a better understanding of how to use the world's largest social media networking website to build relationships and communicate to your target market(s). This is a beginners class; however, the speaker will customize the session to the needs of attendees.

Washington County

  • The Art of Packaging Tourism Deals Downeast
    This three-day series covered all aspects of packaging from forming partnerships with other businesses to addressing the liability concerns of participants. All workshops were held in Jonesboro.

    March 7 - Covering the Basics
    Session A - Marketing Essentials
    Session B - Co-Opetition: How to Work Well with Others & Cooperate with Possible Competition

    March 14 - Pulling It Together
    Session A - Packaging and Itineraries (Maine Office of Tourism)
    Session B - Been There, Done That: Lessons from Other Business Owners' Experiences

    March 21 - Managing Risk
    Session A - Covering Your Assets: The Lowdown on Risk Management
    Session B - Boomerang: Swap Ideas with a Team of Experienced Business Counselors

  • ServSafe® Food Safety Manager Training
    May 15 and 16 in Calais. November 7 and 8 in Calais. This food protection manager training is for staff at local eateries who need to become ServSafe® certified to comply with state law.

    This training covers:
    o    The Importance of Food Safety
    o    Good Personal Hygiene
    o    Time and Temperature Control
    o    Preventing Cross-Contamination
    o    Cleaning and Sanitizing
    o    Safe Food Preparation
    o    Receiving and Storing Food
    o    Methods of Thawing, Cooking, Cooling and Reheating Food
    o    HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points)
    o    Food Safety Regulations

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