Hospitality, retail, restaurant, gas station and other types of Hannibal employees who regularly encounter tourists now have a new option to better inform them of what the city’s most popular attractions are like.
The Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled recently punch cards with nine attractions listed on them.
Eligible employees who receive the punch cards may use them for free admission to the Mark Twain Cave; Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum; Mark Twain Riverboat; Hannibal Trolley Company; Rockcliffe Mansion; Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours; Karlock’s Kars & Pop Culture; and two Mark Twain-themed live performances.
The punch card system is a pilot program that developed out of conversations between merchants and the HCVB.
“Maybe a waitress hasn’t experienced the riverboat cruise, the cave or a Twain performance. We have a lot of frontline staff who are our first contact with visitors,” Tourism Director Gail Bryant said. “Frontline staff can now experience these attractions. There’s no charge to them as long as they have the punch card and ID.”
Bryant explained that not every tourist’s first stop is the Visitors Bureau. Instead, many fill up with gas first, check in to their hotel and eat somewhere and ask those employees along the way their thoughts about the city’s popular attractions.
“Oftentimes, people will ask me what I think (about the tourist attractions), and I have to say, ‘Well, I haven’t done it,’ ” Mark Twain Interpretive Center admission clerk Marlys Treaster said. On her list of new places to visit with the punch card are the Hannibal Ghost Tours, Karlock’s Kars, live performances and the Hannibal Trolley.
“This will give me an incentive to go now, and it’s going to be very helpful, especially for those who work at one of the tourist locations,” Treaster said.
At the downtown Best Western, 10 front desk staff will receive the cards.
“Some of the summer college kids who work here will definitely use these cards because they’re not from here,” front desk manager Jeff Hampton said. “This gives them more knowledge about what’s around them, and the more knowledgeable they are, the better they can assist guests.”
Hampton explained that most hotels don’t have a concierge, and front desk staff now are responsible for giving tourists directions and explaining more about the area’s offerings.
He added that since the 2017 Hannibal Visitors Guide was published and contains an easy-to-read map with 20 listed points of interest, he’s noticed an uptick in people asking the front desk for more information on the attractions.
“The punch cards will definitely help out,” Hampton said.