June 16, 2010

McKenzie County’s concierge

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

For most residents in McKenzie County, knowing where to find a phone book or how to get their cable and internet hooked up is common knowledge. But for someone new to the community, these can be difficult tasks.
Fortunately, for new residents to the county, whether they are temporary or permanent, McKenzie County has its very own concierge, Jan Dodge, and she is ready and waiting to help with whatever is needed.
The increase in oil field activity has brought many new people to the area and Dodge, the Director of Tourism for McKenzie County, has become the go-to person for many of these newcomers.
“My job is to promote our area and the experience of McKenzie County,” says Dodge. “Things have gotten considerably busier around here, but I am just doing my job.”
When Dodge was hired five years ago, her job consisted of helping tourists plan their trips to McKenzie County and giving travelers ideas of what to see in the area. Today, her job still consists of those things. But she is also helping people find places to live, area services, jobs, school information, service groups and even bus rides.
“The Visitors Center has really become a connecting point,” adds Dodge. “Myself and the ladies downstairs have found that people are coming here when they don’t know where to turn or can’t find what they are looking for. It has really made our jobs interesting and we’re happy to help.”
As a way to help those in need, Dodge has put together a manual with information on hotels, schools, campgrounds and services in the area.
“I started the manual for the gals downstairs, and it has become a great and growing resource,” says Dodge. “I put in the things I thought new people to the community would be looking for, and from there we have added anything else that we’ve been asked.”
On the first page of her manual, Dodge has printed ‘our goal is a positive attitude and positive information.’
“I’ve found that sometimes when people come in here, they’ve either exhausted all of their ideas or they have had a bad customer service experience, and a lot of the time, they are frustrated,” states Dodge. “That’s when a friendly smile and the words ‘how can I help you’ can really make a difference.”
“Jan is exceptional at her job,” says Sonja Prestangen, tourism employee. “She is always excited to help anyone with whatever they need and she motivates everyone around her to do the same.”
Dodge is happy and excited to help anyone, whether they are new to the community or just passing through. But she wants the community to know that they can also reach out to newcomers.
“It doesn’t take much to make someone feel welcome,” says Dodge. “This is a small community and it’s pretty easy to notice when someone new moves into town. If you have a new neighbor, take a pan of bars or something over to them, introduce yourself and just let them know they are welcome. That little gesture can go a long way.”
Not many communities can claim they have a concierge, and although she says she is just doing her job, there are a lot of new people in the area who would say that she goes above and beyond her duties every day.
For more information on the Long X Trading Post Visitor Center & Museum, contact Dodge at 444-5804.