Kristina Kauffman, certified tourism ambassador (CTA), is a 12-year veteran of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) and has held several key roles within the organization. Starting as a receptionist, Kauffman worked her way through several service-focused positions to become the current events and CTA program manager. As CTA program manager, Kauffman facilitates the well-received Greater Lansing CTA program, now in its eighth year. One of the most successful CTA programs in the country, the Lansing CTA program now boasts over 500 members and one of the highest renewal rates in the country. Kauffman is also a loyal volunteer with the Old Town Commercial Association and serves as director of communications with the Michigan chapter of Meeting Professionals International.
Greater Lansing welcomes 4.8 million visitors a year. The GLCVB likes to say “tourism counts.” In your words, why does tourism count?
In Greater Lansing, tourism can mean anything from meetings and conventions, sports tournaments, people enjoying a weekend getaway or parents visiting their children at MSU. Travel and tourism to the Greater Lansing area is big business. The Greater Lansing region hosts over 4.8 million tourists, which generate $602 million for the local economy every year. In addition, the hospitality industry supports over 11,000 local jobs.
How have you seen Lansing change over the years when it comes to recreation and events opportunities here in the area?
The quality of the sports tournaments held in the Greater Lansing is really growing, many now with national/international impact. I am also impressed with the Makers and Shakers Trail – it’s really been an explosion of local craft beverage artisans making beer, wine and spirits.
Where are your favorite places to go and things to do in Lansing?
That’s a hard question! Old Town for unique restaurants, I enjoy walking the river walk and perusing the stores. I attend festivals – there are 50-plus throughout the year. I like to take in a Lansing Lugnuts game, check out the breweries and distilleries that are popping up all over. The possibilities are endless!
Those aside, let’s talk about some of the points of pride in the area?
Obviously, there is the Capitol building, Michigan Historical Center, MSU campus, Impression 5 Science Center and tons of diverse festivals.
What is the objective of the CTA program?
The CTA program’s objective is to increase regional tourism by inspiring front-line hospitality employees, volunteers and residents to turn every visitor encounter into a positive experience.
As a program manager, why do you think it is important for Lansing residents to consider being a CTA?
Everyone has relatives or friends that visit them. Having hundreds of residents that are educated and inspired about the community they live in is a critical part of what makes Lansing special. The power of CTA is in having caring individuals that are always willing to share the best assets to those that don’t know much about the area. We have a built-in welcoming committee for visitors- residents that love their community and have endless resources. We tell everyone: Love Lansing like a local.
As a resident of the area and someone who knows Lansing by heart as a CTA, how do you feel when people say … “But there is nothing to do in Lansing?”
I encourage them to become a CTA and also to experience Be A Tourist in Your Own Town. The CTA response is always, “There’s so much to see and do. … What are your interests? Let me help you find it right here in Greater Lansing.”
Anything else you want our readers to know?
I love my job and everything about it. Not many people can say they like the people they work with and love going to work every day.