Tammy Shoemaker began her career in the tourism industry when she was a high school student. She has worked nearly every job imaginable at Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, and she has been with the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau for 19 years.
Shoemaker was recently recognized by the West Virginia Tourism Industry and West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association for her efforts in promoting Pocahontas County.
CVB Executive Director Cara Rose presented the Excellence in Tourism Customer Service award to her Thursday at the PCCVB office in Marlinton.
“Working at Snowshoe, Cass and our visitor’s centers, you have greeted hundreds of thousands of guests, and the nomination recognized your passion for sharing the knowledge of Pocahontas County, the region and the state of West Virginia with every single guest you’ve ever met,” Rose said. “Your dedication to the tourism industry is remarkable, and that’s why we’re recognizing you today. It’s certainly well deserved. Thank you so much for your great guest service.”
Shoemaker, who was shocked by the award, expressed her gratitude and spoke about how much she enjoys greeting visitors and sharing stories about the county with them.
“I’ve been doing this for so long, and there are so many people who say, ‘I know you from Cass’ or ‘I know you from Snowshoe’ and they expect me to remember them,” she said. “I’ll remember a face, but I won’t remember a name. I’m one of these people that – you’re not allowed to leave until you hear what I say, which is true, especially at Cass.
“You can’t leave until you know the entire history of Cass, which can take awhile,” she continued. “I always tell them, ‘if you need to leave to get on the train, just walk away, I’ll still be talking when you come back.’ Snowshoe is about the same – I was born and raised there – but Cass is my heart.”
Shoemaker also makes sure guests know about other places to visit in the county when she meets them at Snowshoe or Cass.
“I always tell people ‘you’re not allowed to leave the county until you go see the [Green Bank Observatory],’” she said. “Some of them actually believe me. I tell them, ‘I was actually kidding, but you really should go.’”
Experiencing many aspects of the tourism industry in Pocahontas County, Shoemaker seems to have found her niche in the customer service sector where, as she puts it, “I think it just fits me.”
“I did retail for years,” she said. “I did every job on Snowshoe that there is to do, but this part – the customer service part – is the part that actually kept me coming back year after year. Even when I worked in Ocean City – I would work down there in the summertime and I’d work up here in the wintertime – I still did the same thing. I still played up Pocahontas County. I had so many people say, ‘I’ve got to go visit this place.’”
Being recognized by the state for all that she has done was a surprise to Shoemaker, who humbly said “I do my job, that’s it.”
“That awards, it’s pretty incredible,” she said. “I’ve never gotten anything like that before. I don’t know if you could top that. I’ll go back to Cass in the summer to do the exact same job I’m doing now. It won’t change my job. I’ll still be telling people ‘you have to go to the observatory, you’re not allowed to leave the county until you go to the observatory.’”