“I’ve lived here for over 30 years since West Hollywood became a city. I didn’t realize how much is here– right in my own backyard!” — Rafael Hernandez. West Hollywood Ambassador. Head concierge of the Pacific Design Center.
What does it take for a city to be a vibrant urban oasis, attracting 3 million visitors and tourists a year?
It takes engaging and educating an entire community. In other words, it takes an urban village. That’s the premise behind the new “I Am West Hollywood Ambassador Program.”
Visit West Hollywood’s brainchild, the “I Am” program gathers business owners and residents together, takes them on a citywide tour (in its yellow PickUp trolley) and educates them about the city’s three districts– the Design District, Santa Monica Boulevard and the Sunset Strip — the latest hotspots and West Hollywood history. Then, these ambassadors-in-training get a hands-on experience testing their newfound knowledge in a classroom setting with interactive exercises like planning a day in the life of a Weho tourist. Among the ambassadors is Sam Borelli, who prides himself on walking rather than driving and was the “First Quarter Ambassador.”
The program leader goes into detail about the importance of West Hollywood as a brand for domestic and international tourism and other key information about the city. At the end of the free two-and-a-half hour program, the participants are certified as West Hollywood Ambassadors.
“We want everyone who completes the program to put their newly acquired knowledge to work when dealing with guests visiting this beautiful destination,” says Alex Stettinski, interim CEO of Visit West Hollywood. “It’s a win-win for everyone when the visitor has an exceptional experience: it creates happy patrons for the businesses, it makes the city look great and it creates repeat visitors. It truly takes a village to stand out as an extraordinarily welcoming community, and the Ambassador program empowers everyone to be a part of it.”
If you are interested, you can email IAm@visitwesthollywood.com. The classes usually take place on every third Thursday of the month. More information is available online.