Tourism this past year has faced many challenges, from a slow economy in Europe to ISIS attacks, from medical issues such as Ebola to wars in both Europe and the Middle East. For many around the world, despite the fact that this has not been an easy year, the month of December creates a great deal of "light" and "hope'. In the northern Hemisphere the lights of Christmas and Chanukah provide great beauty during the dead of winter. In the southern Hemisphere this is the beginning of the summer holidays and a time for rest and relaxation.
December then is a time when most of the world seeks cheer and hope and looks to break the bleakness of everyday life with special events, with celebrations and with a chance to find beauty in life.
Tourism has a major role to play in helping all of us add cheer and a sense of joie de vivre to our lives. Despite the high cost of airline tickets and poor service along the continued weakening of the economy in many western nations, people seek the gift of travel.
Perhaps the greatest gift the travel and tourism industry can give the public is to find new and innovative ways to return at least some of the romance and enchantment to the world of hospitality. That means remembering that our guests are not mere statistical numbers but rather that each traveler represents a world unto him/herself and quality must always override quantity.
To help your locale or attraction put a bit of the romance and enchantment back into your industry, Tourism Tidbits offers the following suggestions.
- Emphasize the unique in your community rather than the standardized. Do not try to be all things to all people. Be something that is special. Ask yourself: What makes your community or attraction different and unique from your competitors? How does your community celebrate its individuality? If you were a visitor to your community would you remember it a few days after you had left or would it be just one more place on the map? Emphasize unique shopping and dining experiences. If travel means nothing more than eating at the same restaurants no matter in where you are then it is merely a hassle rather than a memory. For example, do not just offer an outdoor experience, but individualize that experience, explain what makes your hiking trails special, and your beaches or river experience with ideas from ecology, history or geology. If your community or destination is a creation of the imagination then allow the imagination to run wild and continually create new experiences.
- Create enchantment through product development. Advertise less and give more. Always exceed expectations and never overstate your case. The best form of marketing is a good product and good service. Provide what your promise at prices that are reasonable. The public understands that seasonal locations have to earn their year's wages in a few months. Higher prices may be acceptable but gauging never is. If the other communities are building golf courses, then build something else, think of your community or destination as another country. People do not want the same food, language and styles that they have back home. Sell not only the experience but also the memory by being different from other destinations.
- Take the time to get excited about your community and then share that passion with other. Ask ten neighbors what places they most like about your community and then make sure that you visit these locales. You cannot get other people excited about your community if you are not excited about it. Play tourism in your own community. See what you like and dislike about it and then emphasize the good and fix the bad.
- Think of why it is great to be a tourist in your location. Do you offer special types of food that want to make people forget for a few days about counting calories, provide unique experience, or give people a chance to unwind? Does your location have unique music or can a visitor have a once in a lifetime experience when visiting? Can your locale provide the visitor with a chance to leave his or her schedule and turn every hour into a happy hour? These are the basics that make being a visitor and tourist fun.
- Assess the areas of your tourism experience offerings that destroy enchantment and then fix them. For example are your guests subjected to:
- lines that are too long
- a lack of shelter from the weather, sun, wind, cold etc.
- rude service personnel
- personnel that neither listen nor care
- traffic jams and airport hassles
- a lack of adequate parking
- no one who is willing to listen or own a complaint?
Remember that tourism is first about people. Tourism is about fun and you cannot help others to have fun if you dislike your job! Make your job something special, do something goofy every day and find new ways to break your daily routine. Remember that you need to be less interested in yourself and more interested in the vacationer's experience. An employee who is unique, funny, or makes people go away feeling special is worth thousands of dollars in advertising. Every tourism manager and hotel GM ought to do every job in his or her industry at least once a year. Often tourism managers push so hard for the bottom line that they forget the humanity of their employees. Be with the visitors and see the world through their eyes.
- Enchantment starts with caring and appearances. The rule "people first" is an essential part of tourism, but along with good customer services, comes the way your locale, business and community appear. In tourism appearances matter! Develop a group of specialists in such fields as lighting, landscaping, color coordination, exterior and interior decorations, street appearances and city themes, parking lots and internal transportation service. Utilitarian devices, such as the San Francisco trolley cars, can be vehicles of enchantment if they enhance the environment and add something special to place and help to differentiate it from other locales.
- Create lists about what is special about your community and then make sure that the local population is aware of these attributes. All too often locals believe that there is no reason anyone should come to their community and in fact there is nothing to do. Run regular newspaper and TV spots that emphasize information such as:
- What special attractions you community has.
- Special nature trails and outdoors activities.
- What to do when there is inclement weather.
- When festivals and special events occur.
- What are some of the special traditions and customs in your community.
- What are unique shopping opportunities.
Remember hospitality starts with people so the more personal interactions that you can create the more positive is the memory that visitors take away from their visit to your locale.
- Create a safe and secure atmosphere. There can be little enchantment if people are afraid. To create such an atmosphere local security professionals must be part of the planning from the beginning. Tourism security is more than merely having police or security professionals hanging around a site. Tourism security requires psychological and sociological analysis, the use of hardware, interesting and unique uniforms and careful planning that integrates the security professional into the enchantment experience. Enchantment oriented communities realize that everyone in the community has a part to play in creating a positive tourism experience and one that creates a unique and special environment not only for the visitor but also for those who live in the community.
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