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      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      First Fort Myers Property to Earn Prestigious Educational Institute Designation Brings Lee County VCB Closer to Certified Guest Service Destination Goal

      Orlando, Florida, October 2013—The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) awarded the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in Fort Myers—The Forum with the Certified Guest Service Property designation during a ceremony on October 11, 2013. To earn the designation, all of the property’s guest contact employees passed the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) certification exam offered by EI.

      The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites is a member of the Lee County (Florida) Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB), which has set a goal of becoming the first Certified Guest Service Destination—having all of its members complete the VCB’s Guests First Customer Service Training Program and then certifying guest service staff at all member organizations with EI’s Certified Guest Service Professional designation.

      “It is so great to know that we will be the first official property in this market to complete the certification for the CGSP® program,” said Alexa Hardin, CGSP, general manager for the Holiday Inn Express. “I look forward to sending my seasonal employees to the program as well once they are hired so we can continue the process.”

      Recognized worldwide, the CGSP® designation is the highest acknowledgment of award-winning guest service for employees in the hospitality industry. The Educational Institute has worked with individual properties, organizations, and academic institutions to train and certify thousands of guest service employees through the Guest Service Gold® and CGSP® programs.

      “We utilize tremendous resources to market our destination, but without top-notch customer service our guests will not return,” said Tamara Pigott, VCB executive director. “Knowing how to make every guest’s visit enjoyable and memorable is the cornerstone to every successful hospitality entity.”

      The Lee County VCB has certified 40 employees from area hotels, rental properties, wildlife refuge, transportation, Sanibel City, and the VCB itself since beginning the process toward becoming the first Certified Guest Service Destination.

      About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute
      Established in 1953 as a nonprofit educational foundation of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Educational Institute’s mission is to continue being the preferred provider to the lodging industry, hospitality schools, and related hospitality industries by developing and providing quality resources to train, educate, and certify hospitality professionals worldwide.

      Elizabeth Johnson - ejohnson@ahla.com

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