We Speak: Oakridge
Visitors to Oakridge can spot helpful residents easily by their "We Speak Oakridge" badges. These volunteer citizens have completed customer service training and been certified as deeply knowledgeable about their community. It might be the baker, the lady walking her dog, the gas station attendant or the ski-lift operator. What these Oakridge Ambassadors all have in common is a passion for their community, and a willingness to share their local expertise with others.
We Speak Oakridge
The "We Speak Oakridge" program started as a grassroots effort to give voice to community pride, improve visitors' experiences, educate residents on the value of positive tourist relations, and train front line staff in excellent customer service skills. Oakridge was once known as "The Heart of the Timber Empire," but after the industry's collapse in the 1990s, Oakridge brushed aside the sawdust and embraced their reputation as "The Mountain Biking Capital of the Northwest." Mountain biking had always been an undercurrent in this outdoorsy community, but now its significance as a tourism building block has been magnified. And along with that identity embrace came the need to polish their visitor relations.
The program is designed to bridge the gap between expert "local knowledge" and interested visitors. Essentially, it brings the whole community together, involving everyone with a role in the visitor industry. Oakridge is rolling out the welcome matt!
Local experts created and conducted seasonal sessions on a wide variety of topics. Spring trainings included birding, wildflowers, mountain biking, hiking, and camping. Winter trainings included skiing, snowshoeing and craft beer.
In 2011 Oakridge High School juniors completed Q care training and We Speak trainings as part of their "Careers" class curriculum. We Speak trainings are conducted on an ongoing basis at local business staff meetings.
Buttons- People who complete Oregon Q Care training and We Speak trainings receive a button for every area of expertise. Window stickers with the same designs as the buttons are posted in businesses where staff have completed trainings.
Information sheets- Every expert created a handout for their subject including frequently asked questions and unique opportunities in the Oakridge area.
Unique to Oakridge and Frequently Asked Questions- Based on local feedback the Oakridge Westfir Tourism Ambassadors created and distributed a quick reference sheet of frequently asked questions by visitors and recreational opportunities unique to Oakridge. These laminated sheets were distributed to local businesses to keep at their point of sale. One local hotel placed them in all their rooms.
Contact Natalie Inouye at 541.484.5307.