May 17th, 2012

Laura Mulligan, Visitor Services Coordinator, Earns Tourism Award

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator,   Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden 

Laura Mulligan, photo by Victoria Waiton

Laura Mulligan, photo by Victoria Waiton

Congratulations to Laura Mulligan, Visitor Services Coordinator, for earning the 2012 Easy to Love Customer Service Award from the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau.   The award recognizes one Richmond Region employee who has shown exceptional commitment and consistently provides high-quality customer service beyond the normal call of duty. Today  Laura will be honored at the National Travel & Tourism Week celebration. The timing is perfect —  this Saturday, June 19, Laura will celebrate 10 years serving visitors here at the Garden.  We  thought you’d like to get to know Laura a bit, so we are sharing with you her nomination for the award, written by Beth Monroe, the Garden’s Director of PR & Marketing.

“Welcome to the Garden!” Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Laura Mulligan greets guests with a warm smile and sincere enthusiasm. But it’s what she does next that makes Laura really stand out. “Right now our roses are looking spectacular,” she shares. “Let me show you on this map where to find them.”
You can tell when someone loves his or her job. The excitement comes through.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s passion is bringing people and plants together to improve our community. At the Garden’s front desk, Laura Mulligan has been sharing this passion with guests for almost a decade.
During Laura’s tenure, the Garden has changed dramatically. Annual visitation has nearly doubled, increasing from 176,000 guests to more than 310,000. It has also become an ever-complex place with multiple “moving parts” — classes, visiting school groups, concerts, weddings, meetings and group tours, just to name a few. From her spot at the front desk, the “nerve center” of it all, Laura multi-tasks with aplomb. She attends to the needs of these diverse audiences while handling a host of other activities such as answering phones, accepting deliveries and dealing with the “unexpected.”
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s location just minutes off Interstate 95 results in numerous out-of-area visitors unfamiliar with our region. Laura carefully listens and thoughtfully considers their many questions about lodging, dining and other attractions in our area. She goes above and beyond in providing excellent information tailored to guests’ needs.
The Garden is consistently one of the most-visited attractions in the Richmond Metro area and is increasingly serving as a resource for “itinerary planning” as visitors come to our region for events such as Historic Garden Week or blockbuster exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Laura recently attended the Richmond Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau’s History Made Easy customer service course to ensure she is up-to-date on the latest details about our region.
An excellent example of Laura’s special connection to guests was evidenced during a recent StoryCorps visit to the Garden. The visit was the result of the Garden winning a National Medal as one of the country’s top five museums. As part of the StoryCorps project, a limited number of people, including some Garden visitors, were allowed to choose an interview partner and relate stories of how the Garden had changed their lives. One visitor named Julie chose Laura as her interview partner. Julie explains why: “I met Laura Mulligan nine years ago when I began frequenting [the Garden] and have become friends with her through our interactions at the Garden. Laura is often the primary face visitors see…when she [Laura] is greeting a guest, she makes him/her feel like the most important person in the world. Her ability to actively listen and engage puts customers at ease and makes them feel special.”
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and the Richmond Metro Region is fortunate to have Laura Mulligan as one of our “faces” as she consistently, professionally and gracefully connects with thousands of guests, one by one.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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