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Published on : Friday, July 10, 2015
The Global Greeter Network (GGN) is proud to announce Salem, Oregon as the 100th destination in its network. Salem joins cities such as Paris, Buenos Aires, London, New York, Berlin, Shanghai and 93 other cities throughout the world as an official Greeter destination, where thousands of volunteers worldwide share their personal insights and knowledge about “their city” with visitors.
What is Greeters?
The Greeter program is still unknown to many people, but the concept is rapidly catching on throughout the world. In the last three months, more than 10 cities have joined the network including Sofia, Bulgaria; Sydney, Australia; and Vienna, Austria.
The concept is simple and based on the idea that most people are truly proud and passionate about their city. A Greeter volunteer shares knowledge about a destination – not as a tour guide but as a resident of the city, sharing his or her personal story and knowledge about the history and culture of the city. Greeters follow a strict no tipping policy. The walk – or greet, as Greeter destinations call it – is a gift from the host city to the visitor.
The Greeters program officially started in 1992, but was founded on principles introduced by the late Lynn Brooks, who was born and raised in New York in the 1920s. Lynn was troubled by the poor image of the city and decided to show people the “good side of her village.” Based on Lynn’s initial work, the Big Apple Greeters Program was born. Over the last five years, the Greeters concept has gained momentum as more people want to start a local Greeter organization in their community to build upon the services offered to visitors.
Facts and Figures
· At the end of 2013, there were approximately 50 to 60 destinations participating in the Global Greeter Network. At the end of 2015, well over 150 destinations will be involved. At the end of 2016, it’s anticipated that between 350 and 400 destinations will have joined GGN – representing a growth rate of 700% over three years.
· As a mostly virtual organization, GGN receives no formal funding. All advertising is based on free publicity, social media and “word of mouth” marketing.
· Greeter services are completely free. Sometimes visitors do not know how to accept this type of service for free as they expect one needs to tip the Greeter but it is a completely free service. Greeters are willing to share their time and information with visitors because they love their city.
· The Greeter program works in partnership with local tourism organizations, based on the logical concept that the best ambassadors for a city are its inhabitants. This is the strength of the Greeter concept and likely the main reason there is a growing number of destination marketing organizations such as Travel Salem that are interested in setting up a local Greeter organization. Each destination marketing organization creates the digital infrastructure (i.e. website, matching the volunteer Greeter with the visitor, providing information) while maintaining the global concept.