First published Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The school holiday break is well underway, and better still, the sun is shining as well. With the forecast suggesting a continuation of dry weather over the next few days, there is much to look forward to over the coming week. Our attractions are open and welcoming visitors, likewise hotels, guesthouses, self catering cottages and campsites (I passed one on the way to work this morning that had a number of colourful bell tents erected, and it was so nice to see). Shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes are welcoming visitors regular and new through the doors, and there is a gentle ‘buzz’ in the air combining bird song, traffic, children laughing, and adults chatting, along with that inaudible but noticeable surge of positivity that accompanies spring sunshine.
It’s good to see. We are told that the economy is showing signs of improvement, and certainly in some areas it is. There is however a continuing uncertainty in some sectors, and I personally feel that it will be some time before that lifts. Nonetheless, business in the visitor economy is definitely underway in the county – one member I was speaking to today is reporting daily numbers above target for their attraction, although slightly tempered by a lower than anticipated spend in the on site food outlets. This mirrors feedback from last year, which indicated that numbers were up, but ‘discretionary spend’ (spending money because it’s there to spend) wasn’t high.
Regardless of how much or otherwise the visitor spends, there is a crucial role for each and every one of us in the county to play. We are all part of the Pembrokeshire Welcome, whether we are running the guest house, the cafe or simply resident here. With this in mind, we all have a part to play in the creation of memories for our visitors, whether from afar or more local.
We all like to be made to feel welcome, valued and appreciated, especially when we have parted with hard earned cash. From someone purchasing a newspaper to the family enjoying a day out at the theme park, it is very easy to make a positive, or negative, impression on them. Negative impressions get tied up with bad memories and a desire not to return to the place, along with plenty of word of mouth commentary to friends and neighbours advising against a certain location based on the experience.
Positive impressions on the other hand will leave the visitor feeling appreciated, valued and that they have had a good time. They will be more likely to comment positively when asked about their trip, they may well leave you a positive comment or review on your Facebook page or TripAdvisor. They will go home at the end of the visit feeling rested, refreshed and happy, and in return you’ll be more likely to feel upbeat too, knowing that you have played a part in that.
It really isn’t difficult to make a positive contribution to someone else’s day. Whether it’s a smile when they walk through the door, saying hello and asking how they are, are they having a good day, making a suggestion on somewhere to visit or eat, all these ‘little’ things really can make such a difference. Think about the last time you went out somewhere shopping or for a meal. Was it a good experience? Were you made to feel welcome and valued?
Even when you’re not feeling full of the joys of spring, or the post man has just brought the next round of invoices to pay and the kids are playing up and the washing machine is threatening to pack up too, if you can find a smile to give to someone who is visiting your business, you will have made a great contribution to their day. Yes sometimes it’s hard, and not every customer who walks in makes things easy for you either, but sometimes these are the ones who really appreciate that smile, value your cheery hello, and like being given tips on places to visit.
It’s a theme we return to time and time again here at Pembrokeshire Tourism, through this blog, through our conversations with members and with other stakeholders across the county. Customer service is so important, and so valuable to all involved, that it really should be one of the top priorities in any business. Smiles are free, they don’t cost anything to produce, a kind word, some friendly suggestions and a warm welcome can all add huge amounts of value to someone else’s day, so please, this holiday, this month, next month, this year, share a smile and help give the visitor a great holiday and some super memories to take home.