Los Alamos County – the most educated (and healthiest) county in the country – is launching an online marketing effort to better educate local tourism industry employees about the city “where discoveries are made.”
Subsequently, the county hopes knowledgeable employees will incite a desire in visitors to discover even more about Los Alamos’ history and attractions, while replacing any misnomers they may have with facts.
“Visitors trust that the information they receive about Los Alamos from our employees in the hotel, restaurant, and tourism industries is accurate,” said Linda Deck, Los Alamos Tax and Advisory Board President. “So we launched an easy-to-use online quiz which empowers Los Alamos’ essential tourism-industry employees with knowledge about the history, culture, and attractions in the county. A centralized source of information is not only helpful for them, but for Los Alamos residents and visitors alike.”
Los Alamos County employed Griffin and Associates Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising firm to produce five marketing videos, each less than five minutes long.
The videos focus on the county’s history, attractions, family-friendly activities, and events, and address common misconceptions.
The videos are matched up with short quizzes developed by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce that will test the knowledge of participants. The course is provided online via the web.
“The goal is to have all of Los Alamos County’s tourism-industry employees complete the course,” Chamber Executive Director Kevin Holsapple said. “We want to hear from any business that is interested in having staff take the course. It is free, easy-to-implement professional development that will improve the ability of the business to serve customers.”
Each video contains information that is included in the online quiz that follows.
The county is hopeful that tourism-industry employees will offer accurate information to visitors who have questions about Los Alamos.
Subsequently, the county hopes to generate even more visitors whose interest has been piqued about Los Alamos. In 2011, Los Alamos County had almost 25,000 visitors.
“I’m not surprised that the most educated county came up with such a smart way to provide its vital tourism professionals with information about the community in which we live,” said Agatha Marquez, General Manager at Holiday Inn Express Los Alamos, who will be utilizing the Cogno training videos. “Basic facts such as that ‘Los Alamos officially became a county in 1949,’ are questions we get asked all the time. The videos and online quiz can only make us better ambassadors for our incredible county that has so much to offer.”
Some key activities in Los Alamos that are highlighted in the videos and are considered “must-see” attractions include:
- Bandelier National Monument—Evidence of human existence in Bandelier dates back as far as 11,000 years ago. Ancestral dwellings of ancient Pueblo Indians are scattered across a landscape of mesas and steep walled canyons throughout the 23,000 acre monument. Walking trails provide easy access to dwellings, including the Alcove House and Tsankawi Ruin, built between 1400 and 1600 AD, where petroglyphs and cavates are visible. Bandelier offers an evening ranger program, guided moonlit night hikes, and cultural demonstrations throughout the summer. Shuttle bus service between White Rock and Bandelier will be available starting June 1st through the fall. Summer hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fees: $6 for 7-day entry. nps.gov/band/index.htm
- Valles Caldera National Preserve—The 90,000 acre preserve dates back to ancient times, and is the result of a mountain that collapsed into the crater of a volcano more than 50,000 years ago. It is one of only three super volcanoes in the U.S., with mountain elevations as high as 11,000 feet. The 12-mile wide Caldera offers breathtaking views and is great for hiking, horseback riding, and fishing. During the summer, as many as 3,500 elk can be seen. The visitor center is open 7 days a week and most holidays. Visit vallescaldera.gov.
- Ashley Pond and the Icehouse Memorial—The Ice House Memorial marks the site where components of the first atomic weapons were built. Ashley Pond was named for Ashley Pond II, who found the Los Alamos Ranch School. Several of the 92 “Art in Public Places” sculptures can be seen at Ashley Pond while enjoying a picnic. Visit losalamoshistory.org for details.
- Pajarito Mountain—Situated on the east slopes of the Jemez Mountains, the Pajarito Plateau was created by runoff erosion followed by volcanic eruption. The area’s first settlers are thought to be ancestral Pueblo people who inhabited the area between 1150 AD and the 16th century. Ski Pajarito has 40 trails on 300 skiable acres with an elevation of 7,200 feet, and is not only a great place to ski but offers breathtaking views via summer chairlift. Visit skipajarito.com.
- Bradbury Science Museum—For an in-depth and interactive exploration of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Bradbury offers a range of exhibits on the Laboratory’s history, its national security mission, and the broad range of exciting science research and technology and engineering, including achievements in space science, energy, genomics, computing, medicine, and more. Free. Visit lanl.gov/museum.
- Los Alamos Historical Museum—See award winning exhibits on the Manhattan Project and celebrated Ranch school, as well as area geology and history. Historic walking tours include a visit to the 1928-built Fuller Lodge, a landmark building designed by architect John Gaw Meem that served as hotel and gathering place during the Manhattan Project. Free. Visit losalamoshistory.org or call 505-662-6272 for details.
A downloadable historic walking tour map is available on the Los Alamos Historic Museum website at: losalamoshistory.org/09walking%20tour.pdf.
Several annual events and activities are also mentioned in the videos including: Chamberfest; White Rock Film Series; Los Alamos Concert Association Series; Los Alamos Triathlon; Next Big Idea; Fuller Lodge Art Fair; Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl; and Midnight Snowshoeing.
The videos also clarified several common misconceptions visitors have about Los Alamos including Los Alamos’ secretive yet important role in the Atomic Age; the fact that the Trinity Test was completed at White Sands Missile Range and not in Los Alamos; that Los Alamos is the most culturally diverse community in NM with residents from more than 80 countries; and more.
All community members are invited to stop by the Chamber during Chamberfest on Saturday June 9 to take the course and test their knowledge. The course will eventually be made available via the web to the general public. People who successfully complete the course will be awarded a certificate of their status as a “Los Alamos Insider.”