Destination Marketing: Is Your City Unfriendly?

This is a difficult to tackle but important topic. If I mention specific destinations, it's going to upset a lot of people. It's sticking in my craw, though. To protect the guilty and save myself from being tarred and feathered, I'll keep this generic.

I first became aware of this issue when, as a teenager, my family visited a major North American city. My mother approached a security guard, pointed to what looked like a famous landmark and asked:

"Is that the _______________ ?"

He cut her off abruptly, "I don't know lady, I only work here!"

It was only after she pressed the point "That big building over there!" that he sheepishly replied "Oh sorry, yes it is."

That city has improved its reputation but others destinations have taken over as unfriendly places to visit.

How friendly is your city?

  • When strangers ask for direction, do you help them or avoid them?
  • When was the last time you accompanied someone who was lost and pointed them in the right direction?
  • If someone trips and falls, do you assist them or step around them?
  • When you take public transportation, do you ignore people who attempt to strike up a conversation?
  • In elevators, if someone commits the unpardonable sin and makes a comment, do you look at them as if they just escaped from an insane asylum?

The impression with which visitors leave any city is the sum total of the myriad of interactions they have with individuals during their stay. The Convention and Visitors Bureau can only do so much. It's unfortunate to invest millions of dollars to attract tourists who get the cold shoulder every time they step outside hotels, resorts and restaurants where people are paid to be friendly.

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