Tourist town’s salespeople sample some of the merchandise

Lynn BurtonPost Independent Staff

Up to 200 front-line tourism employees have fanned out all over town for Explore Glenwood this week, and on Wednesday morning they swarmed Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Funland and Canyon Bikes.At Funland, the tourism industry workers scrambled off a Rock Gardens bus and made a beeline for the go-carts.”This was fun,” said 23-year-old Dora Gonzalez after her quick trips around the Funland track. “I’d never been on one before.”The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association organized the third annual Explore Glenwood, which is designed for restaurant workers, retail sales clerks and others who routinely advise tourists on everything from good restaurants to the location of Doc Holliday’s grave.”We have people today from the Hot Springs Pool, hotels, Dodson Engineering,” said Explore Glenwood organizer Joni Bates as one group of workers sped around the Funland go-cart track, and another group bounded up the steps to the batting cage.Alpine Bank employee Kelly Whittington was already there, waiting for her cuts in the cage. “I wanted to get in some swings,” she said.Whittington, 28, manages Alpine Bank’s Merchant Bank Center on Eighth Street. The center has an ATM machine that attracts locals and tourists, plus a 24-hour informational kiosk. “We get a lot of visitors who come in,” Whittington said.Whittington said she was most looking forward to the training session at Canyon Bikes, located in the garden level at the Hotel Colorado. “It’s good for me to experience it firsthand, and to know where the trails are,” Whittington said.This is Whittington’s second year for Explore Glenwood. “It’s an excellent program. I learned so much last year,” she said.As Whittington edged closer to the batting cages, chamber marketing director Lori Hogan glanced around the group and said, “We’ve definitely had more people this year.”For part of Explore Glenwood, workers are given a bus tour of the town and a hospitality training session.”We do role playing, showing them how to handle upset customers, or giving them the basics of customer service,” Hogan said. “It’s good to get them thinking about this again … to refresh their memory.”After the last go-cart rider docked his sled, and the final power hitter powdered the horse hide, it was back onto the bus, and off to Canyon Bikes.”Come on in,” said Canyon bike co-owner Vicki Neer as the first Explorers stepped into the cool office and retail store.”Thanks for participating,” added co-owner Jeff Neer as the final participant squeezed in. “We really appreciate it.”Jeff briefed the group about Canyon Bikes, which rents bikes and runs a shuttle service into Glenwood Canyon. “This is the 10th year for Canyon Bikes and the fourth season for us” as its owners, he said. “We’ve evolved, and this year will be even better than last year.”Jeff explained the tours, rates and services Canyon Bikes offers, then continued his presentation outside, under the Hotel Colorado’s towering shade trees. “Our bikes are new, and ready to go,” Jeff said as the Explorers gathered around. “We’re open from April 15 to October 15,” he said.Jeff explained the types of bikes Canyon Bikes offers, including a 23-inch unit that will fit anyone up to 6-feet-10. There are “trailer bikes” for kids that attach to regular bikes that parents can ride. Canyon Bikes also has three tandem bikes, which handle two pedalers at a time. Jeff said the standard joke for tandem renters is, “We offer coupons to divorce attorneys for husbands and wives who rent one of these.”Explore Glenwood participants got to saddle up a bike and head out for a short spin Wednesday morning. Bob Coryell, a Dodson Engineering salesman who was raised on a ranch south of Glenwood Springs, was the oldest one of the bunch.”All our employees are attending,” Coryell said. “We talk to a lot of people, including people new to the area. We call ourselves the Outside Town Center Chamber of Commerce.”Coryell said he was already familiar with Funland before Wednesday, and it is “fantastic.” Even though Coryell has spent his entire life in Glenwood Springs, he learned a thing or two on Wednesday.”I didn’t know about the Alpine Bank Center on Eighth Street,” he said.As for Coryell’s opinion on Explore Glenwood, he said, “This is a great idea. … The chamber is to be commended for putting this on.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.comActivities continue Friday nightThe Glenwood Springs Community Center will host a tourism information session with business booths, restaurants samples and wine tastings from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, May 16. There’ll be lots of door prizes, with a grand prize of a weekend trip to Denver.The session is part of Explore Glenwood, which is made possible by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, and the following donors: Amtrak, Blazing Paddles Adventure Rafting, Canyon Bikes, Colorado Wineries, Funland, Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, High Canyon Adventures, Hot Springs Lodge & Pool, Ramada Inn & Suites, Ride Glenwood, the Springs Downtown Bar & Grill, TRY, Turtle’s Liquors, and Whitewater Rafting.

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