Welcome ME—an online customer service training video—is helping tourism workers sharpen their customer service skills, an essential element of strengthening the tourism sector so it can offer improved wages, benefits and job stability for employees.

“If our desk staff earn the Welcome ME certificate and pass an internal test, they’ll get a 50-cent-an-hour raise,” said Rob Miller, manager of the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center. Miller and his staff have participated in several in-person training sessions offered by the Maine Woods Tourism Training Initiative.

The Northern Forest Center secured grants from USDA Rural Development and The Betterment Fund to help fund Welcome ME, which was produced by the Center for Tourism Research and Outreach. More than 300 people have completed the program since it launched in spring 2012.