As the Classic Theatre Festival looks back on its 4th summer season this Thanksgiving, it has plenty to be thankful for. Its two summer shows – Neil Simon’s “The Star-Spangled Girl” and Leslie Stevens’ “The Marriage-Go-Round” – were both popular and critical successes that drew thousands of tourists to town, the equivalent of between one and two tour buses daily.
A key part of that success was the Festival’s volunteer team, led by Madeleine Labelle, who coordinated scores of people involved in putting together the sets, maintaining the front-of-house operations, and assisting audience members with special needs. Their efforts, while already appreciated by visitors, were recently acknowledged through the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) OHvation Customer Service Designation Program, which gave the Festival top marks. As a result, the Festival will be listed among those events and services in this tourism region that are the top ranked with respect to customer service.
The program is based on the Mystery Shopper model, in which the host does not know when the shopper will show up. Among those areas rated were service delivery, employee attitudes and presentation, knowledge of the area, ease of finding the space given clear and understandable signage, accessibility of the website, whether staff maintained eye contact and showed an interest in questions and concerns, and quality of the experience. The mystery shopper found the play – “The Marriage-Go-Round”– was “professional” and “delightful.”
“Part of what makes the Festival such an important tourism draw for the town of Perth and surrounding communities is the high customer service standards we set for everyone who works with us,” says Labelle. “Our motto is professional standards with a community feel, and it’s clear from this designation that our approach not only works, but feels great for everyone involved too.”
While the Festival gets set to announce its 2014 summer season, which will include some new programming enhancements that will be focused on adding to the experience of visiting Perth, Artistic Producer Laurel Smith is feeling “blessed” to see such support from community volunteers.
“We are so lucky to have a solid group of folks who really care about what we are doing and are committed to making the Festival as good an experience as possible as we approach out 5th anniversary,” Smith says.
Details on the 5th anniversary season will be announced soon at www.classictheatre.ca