Owning a small business has many rewards and the benefits of giving some latitude to employees can be rewarding too.
Business owners are busy with the basic daily concerns of product display, marketing, inventory, accounting, payroll and, of course, making a profit. So, more often than not, they assume that their employees understand and demonstrate good customer service, but that’s like expecting a toddler to always say thank you. In most cases, customer service is something that must be taught.
But, teaching good customer service to employees is one thing - helping them to understand the WHY and WHEREFORE gives employees a different perspective. This knowledge is easier for them to understand when they are given the latitude to make decisions to help customers on the spot without constantly deferring to “company policy” or bothering the owner/manager whenever the customer has a minor question, problem, or concern. This latitude to understand the broader view can be likened to soaring above the earth in a hot air balloon - it’s much easier to understand the full picture from a higher vantage point. This kind of latitude also helps to develop a positive tourism profile for the entire community when every business facilitates customer service at the highest level.
Giving latitude to the community.
Tourism responsibilities are usually assumed by overworked chamber personnel until dedicated tourism offices and staff can be justified. When those responsibilities ARE handed over to dedicated tourism bureaus or CVB’s, those offices are often staffed by just one or two people. And even if they are abundantly staffed, it still would not be enough to cover every corner of the community to prevent crimes against tourism.
Businesses usually don’t have the time to worry about their exterior flaws from moment to moment or day to day. They are too busy trying to accommodate customers. If, for example, trash has accumulated in an adjoining alley visible from the entryway, the owners might easily dismiss it or overlook it entirely. However, to the tourist driving by in that one split second, it is an indelible eyesore – a lasting image reflecting on the entire community.
The daunting challenge to tourism leaders is trying to be “all things to all people” and covering all bases and blemishes.
Relax! That expectation is unrealistic.
Why? Because blemishes can happen despite all the best intentions and preparations by the bureaus and there are simply not enough eyes or time to cover all the bases all the time even in the perfectly-staffed tourism offices.
How then can communities be constantly aware of what their image is reflecting?
One solution is to provide local citizens with the latitude to protect and monitor the community image in the form of tourism “teams” under the auspices of the department of tourism – NOT as authoritarians but, rather, as fellow residents who have some “skin in the game” by reason of their residency and the importance of tourism to the entire community.
As an alternative to the one-man show, networks of volunteers - worker bees rather than advisors - who know the value of tourism, can help enforce guidelines, policies, and codes to meet the expectations of tourists. By organizing volunteers to fill structured tasks with additional eyes and ears, tourism efforts will have additional resources to bring problems to the attention of local business owners that might otherwise leave a negative impression on visitors.
By using these extra set of eyes, tourism leaders have the opportunity to preempt crimes against tourism before they happen. For transitional repairs or progressive improvements (as seen in the slideshow), implementing Progressional Signage or Apologetic Signage can save the moment – the crucial moments. (e.g the moment when THIS tourist photographer with-camera-in-hand passed by.)
A Poor Image coupled with Unexpected Guests passing through is a recipe for failure - negative images for your visitors that cannot be erased.
Can you afford to NOT have tourism network teams supporting your staff when you have volunteers ready and waiting to be put to work?
You may have a community and employees eagerly waiting for this latitude!
Don’t miss the opportunity.
Coming: Exposing employees AND business owners to the third of three “tudes” for successful tourism development: Gratitude. (It may not be what you think.)
UPCOMING SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS:
North Dakota Travel Industry Conference April 15 - 17, 2013:
- Workshop: Growing Tourism through Business Development - What you don’t know you don’t know (but your guests do.)
- Keynote: Heritage Tourism Development – The Story, The Assets & The Logistics
Called "The Patron Saint of Small Towns" by Iowa Commerce Magazine
John Poimiroo, Deputy Secretary of (CA) Tourism said:
"I was so impressed by your emphasis on sustaining heritage tourism as an economic development tool."