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For only the fourth time in National Football League

history, Super Bowl XLVI will be played in a northern city— Indianapolis. And while the city can’t make any promises about what the temperature will be when the teams take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, it’s a pretty strong bet that everyone who comes to town for the big day— and for long afterward—will get nothing but a warm welcome. The Indianapolis Convention&Visitors Association (ICVA),

the Super Bowl Host Committee, the Indianapolis Airport Author- ity, andIndiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) have seen to that. In anticipation ofhosting Super Bowl XLVI, these organizations started collaborating early last year on a cus- tomized Super Service Training Program, which launched on Oct. 3 in conjunction with National Customer ServiceWeek. As ofearly December,more than 6,000 people who may potentially serve or interact with visitors—about 150,000 are expected to come to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl celebration—had com- pleted the program, earning themselves a pin and a certificate. That number includes those visitors who don’t have tickets

to the game but will come the weekend before the big day to see downtown’s festival-like Super BowlVillage. “It’s an opportunity

Comprised of five sections, with the fifth section specifically

for Super Bowl volunteers, the training program’s modules, Townsend said, “have to do with either customer service or the city or telling our story.We spent a lot of time discussing the video vignettes—the program is interspersed with video and text. And thenwe agreed as a group that it needed to be in Spanish aswell, because we wanted to make sure we embrace the Hispanic com- munity that works in the service industry.” Another component ofthe program, the First Observer training section—“Ifyou see something, say something,” Townsend said—was very impor- tant to the NFL. The training program lives on the ICVA website and can be

accessed directly In addition to offering the program online, the collaborating organizations have conducted in-person training sessions around the city.“We have trainerswehave trainedwhoare going out to different busi- nesses,” Townsend said. These include hotels and restaurants as well as such non-hospitality venues as hospitals and senior-citizen centers that have requested to take the training. And thismonth, it will bemandatory for cab drivers in Indianapolis to complete

SUPER KIDS SUPER WELCOME: Children throughout Indiana have had a hand in laying out the welcome mat for Super Bowl guests. The Indianapolis CVA partnered with the Indiana Humanities Council for a Super Kids SuperWel- come card program, which encouraged children to draw, color, and add their own messages to wel- come cards for Indianapolis visitors.“We’ve already collected 18,000 cards from children in every county, and we’re almost there,” Townsend said. “We’ve hit our number goal in terms of the hotel rooms and making sure that we can put a card in every hotel room that has a block in it [for the Super Bowl].” In another welcome gesture, Super Bowl guests will be treated to hot chocolate and snickerdoodle cookies in the hotels.

for [drive-in] visitors and local residents to get a part of the Super Bowl experience,” said Susie Townsend, ICVA’s senior vice pres- ident, who serves as vice president ofthe 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee.

Building a Program When they first started thinking about the customer-service pro- gram, everyone involved wanted it to be specific to Indianapo- lis,Townsend said. They conducted focus groups to discuss what the programshould look like andhowto distribute it—viaDVD or a booklet?—as well as what ground to cover. The group decided the program should include information about Indy’s attractions, the arts, and transportation, in addition to customer- service principles.“We went through a lot ofstoryboarding that Amanda [Cecil, Ph.D., CMP, IUPUI Department ofTourism, Conventions, and Event Management assistant professor, who wrote the program,] walked us all through,” Townsend said, “and we came up with a format for the program.”

68 pcma convene January 2012

the training program in order to get their license to drive cabs over the Super Bowl period. The Super Service Training Program outreach has extended

beyond the city because visitors are expected to stay in hotels “all around our state and community,” Townsend said. “The collab- oration from city, state, and the community has been over- whelming. This is an important program that will help all of our customer-service representatives greet and welcome [guests] and [gain] information that they may not [have otherwise known].” Every effort has been made to make sure the program “has

legs,” she added, “because we want to make sure it could con- tinue on after the Super Bowl.” Now, wherever she goes, Townsend hears, “Have a super

day,” which is music to her ears. She said: “One ofthe touch points ofthe program—you know, service is all about touch points—is teaching everybody to say, ‘Have a super day.’” 

 Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.

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