Frequently Asked Questions
- Where do you visit during the FIT assessments?
- Depending on what the community has to offer, FIT assessments typically cover a wide-range of assets. Some examples of assets we have visited include local businesses, restaurants, libraries, public parks, walk/bike/kayak trail systems, harbors, scenic drives, sports, beaches, festivals and events, farms, farmers markets, government offices, hospitals, hotels, campgrounds, grocery stores and residential areas. While you may not have a large percentage of these assets in your community, FIT assessors are trained to push their boundaries and explore the simpler and free things to do in your community, which are certain to help identify unique points to support our assessment.
- Is the FIT program going to turn our town into a major tourist destination?
- The program is designed to identify strengths and weaknesses by providing a new perspective of your community by first-time visitors. The suggestions that come from a FIT assessment are designed to enhance the quality of life for community members while at the same time enhancing experiences for future visitors. This program is not intended to be a “silver bullet” in regards to tourism development, but to provide your community with a baseline and plethora of suggestions for future community tourism development.
- Why does the FIT program only have five-person assessment teams? Can we have more than five assessors visit our community?
- Due to the geographic size of Michigan, MSU Extension feels a five-person assessment team is manageable when conducting the FIT assessment across the state. Assessment teams can be larger than five people, but larger teams will require additional costs and can quite possibly extend the program timeline. Communities interested in having more than five assessors can identify this need in their application and program costs will be adjusted accordingly, but only after initial discussions between you and FIT program leaders. Please note this in your application, and MSU Extension tourism educators will take this into account when planning your FIT assessment with you.
- Furthermore, a five-person assessment team typically will produce nearly 80 pages of quantitative and qualitative raw data. This amount of data is sufficient for populating summary reports and presentations to the community at the end of the program.
- How do we rank compared to other communities that have done the FIT program?
- Due to the social, economic and ecological diversity of each community that participates in the FIT program, MSU Extension does not rank or compare communities. We do suggest that those interested review FIT reports from communities that have already participated in the program to learn of the plethora of assets, perspectives and suggestions provided that differentiates each community in their own unique way.
- Visit the MSU Extension website to find a compilation of reports.
- Who should be on our Community Leadership Team (CLT) before applying for FIT?
- We suggest when building your CLT, you strive to include a diverse array of representatives from your public and private sectors. This may include civic club members, educators, elected officials, local business leaders and entrepreneurs, village and city managers, chambers of commerce members, downtown development authority members, and members of convention and visitor bureaus.
- In addition, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension strongly encourages each community to identify organizations and individuals that represent underserved, unmet populations and youth in your community and include them on your CLT.
- Is there a limit to the number of people that can be on our CLT?
- No, there is not a limit. However, the most successful CLTs to date have had between five and seven members.
- How many people visit our community and who are they?
- MSU Extension’s Tourism Team constructs a five-person assessment team for each FIT assessment they do. The five people that serve as assessors to your community are typically composed of educators in community, food and environment programming and always represent various ages, races, sexes and professional backgrounds. Each assessor from MSU Extension has an annual background check conducted by MSU Human Resources.
- Occasionally, the MSU Extension Tourism Team will collaborate with external partners to diversify assessment teams and perspectives.
- Can we have less than five assessors visit our community when doing FIT?
- MSU Extension feels a five-person assessment team provides significant data and diverse perspectives when identifying strengths and weaknesses. However, if a community feels having less than five assessors will provide them with sufficient data, then we will take this into consideration and discuss further with you before starting the FIT program.
- How do you determine what you will visit?
- Each assessor conducts web research of your community in hopes of identifying specific points of interest or businesses to visit during their assessment. We also use interactions with community members during the visit to identify things to see and do in addition to any local visitors guide or maps that might be found in the community.
- Can a host community suggest or request specific sites be visited?
- The idea is to keep the FIT assessment as true to a first-time visitor’s perspective as possible and offer unbiased visits. To do this, we typically ask that communities not specify places to visit or map out an itinerary before the assessment(s). However, each community is unique in what it has to offer to first-time visitors to experience. While we strive to research and visit as much of the community and surrounding area as we can, it is possible that, as first-time visitors, we could overlook an asset of historical significance unless knowing about it in advance. If a community feels it is imperative, we assess a small selection (less than five) of significant assets. Then we welcome a discussion with you in the early stages of the FIT program to determine the pros and cons of this approach.