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SMG employees named ambassadors of the year

The SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) is celebrating two employees named as “ambassadors of the year.”

Amy Huggins, quality control services manager, was chosen to receive the 6th Annual Tourism Ambassador Institute (TAI) Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) of the Year Star Award.

TAI, the accrediting body for the CTA program, provided Huggins with a crystalline award commending her as “a passionate professional committed to enhancing the visitor experience and promoting the ideals of the Certified Tourism Ambassador program” and a trip for two anywhere within the continental U.S. The presentation was made on behalf of the TAI by Experience Columbus Senior Visitor Experience Manager Robbie Banks, coordinator of the CTA program in Columbus, during a gathering of local CTAs.

Huggins qualified for consideration for the national award after being presented with the first Greater Columbus CTA Star Award at the Experience Columbus Annual Meeting in March. Huggins received two nominations and was selected for “consistently exceeding customer expectations and demonstrating exceptional knowledge of all that Columbus offers visitors,” according to Banks. The Greater Columbus Tourism Ambassador Program was initiated in 2013 and recently trained its 2,000th CTA.

Among her achievements, Huggins was cited for assisting an Arnold Sports Festival athlete from Spain. The guest lost her passport and Huggins made multiple phone calls and devoted hours to arranging for the athlete to successfully return to her homeland. Huggins is also a facilitator for CTA training classes, coordinates the Experience Dedicated Destination program initiatives with Experience Columbus and assists GCCC staff with the enrollment and recertification process in the facility’s quest for all its employees to become CTAs.

Huggins, a graduate of the University of Dayton, was hired by the GCCC as an event coordinator in 2000. She was promoted to event services manager and then to her current role in 2013. A Certified Meeting Professional, Huggins is a member of the International Special Events Society Columbus Chapter Board of Directors, Eastmoor Civic Association and St. Catharine of Siena Fun Fest Planning Committee and is the finance director of the Wing’s Wii Bowling League. She resides in the Eastmoor neighborhood of Columbus with her husband, Scott.

Darlene Roberson, the GCCC payroll and accounts payable specialist, was selected by GCCC company directors as the facility’s 2014 Ambassador of the Year.

Roberson was selected as the result of her identifying a guest in need and assisting her by first providing directions to the parking garage. Roberson then proceeded to carry the guest’s conference materials to the exhibitor booth space within an exhibit hall while the guest parked her vehicle.

GCCC employees become ambassadors by being nominated by clients or fellow associates for general or specific actions worthy of recognition for fulfilling SMG’s K’nekt guiding principles (Know your customer, Need proper greeting, Exceed their expectations, Keep a proactive attitude, Thank them for their business).

Ambassadors are selected on a monthly basis and then qualify for consideration for quarterly ambassador recognition. Quarterly ambassadors are then considered for GCCC Ambassador of the Year honors, for which Roberson was chosen.

Roberson was hired in 2002 as a part-time sales assistant and then joined the finance department as payroll specialist in 2005. In 2011, she assumed accounts payable responsibilities as well. A CTA and notary public, she received a financial operations network certification and serves as a volunteer for the Kairos Prison Ministry, Arthritis Foundation Wine & Dine and Crystal Ball and as a navigator for Kindway Embark, a. program which provides mentors for incarcerated individuals preparing to return to the general central Ohio population. She resides in north Columbus with her husband, Ivon, and son, E.J., 12.

“We are extremely proud of Amy Huggins and Darlene Roberson for receiving this wonderful recognition,” said John R. Page, general manager, Greater Columbus Convention Center. “Through their commendable actions, they are illustrating the exemplary customer service our entire staff is dedicated to providing to every guest visiting this facility.”

The Greater Columbus Convention Center, located in downtown Columbus, hosted an estimated 2.5 million visitors in 2014.

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