BY DAVE BLANK
“Hospitality” – According to Merriam-Webster means “the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.” That sounds easy enough. After all, most of us are naturally nice people. We like to take care and help other people – whether they be a long-time friend, a professional acquaintance or someone that you’ve just met.
When we go somewhere we naturally expect to be greeted with a smile and made to feel “welcomed.” Recently I was in Bermuda for a conference, and I have to say that their hospitality was some of the best that I’ve ever seen experienced.
Everyone from the housekeeping staff of the hotel, to the shopkeepers, to the cab drivers greeted us with an authentic smile and a rousing “good morning” or “afternoon” or “evening” depending on the time of the day. They also expected all of us to respond in kind. Now, I had read about this ahead of time in the guidebooks, but nothing could have prepared me for the warm greetings that we experienced from everyone. It put a spring in my step because of all of the positive energy.
Their hospitality blew me away and made me want to return.
Are our visitors treated the same here in Racine County? Hospitality can be a point of differentiation for a place if it’s done well. You’re apt to return to a place where you feel like you’re genuinely welcomed.
In mid-October we hosted the United States Australian Rules Football National Championships at the Soccer Complex of Racine (SCORe) in Franksville. The 42 teams came from all over North America, with a good number of Australians thrown in as well. I talked to many of the participants and the first thing out of their mouth was “Everyone here is so nice to us.” Even the Australian Consulate staff from Chicago said it.
In 2017 the tournament had been held in San Diego and they told me they had the opposite experience. They were greeted with indifference. No one cared that they were there. I hear that they may return to Racine several years from now.
Being nice to others doesn’t cost any money, yet the returns can be huge. In the USAFL case, they spent over a million dollars while in our community. This is money that went to hotels, restaurants, attractions, local retailers, rental car and bus companies and service providers (tents, porta potties, fencing, etc.).
You make it easier for Real Racine to bring in these types of national events and to sell Racine County as an attractive tourist destination by just being you. For that, we want to say, “thank you!”
Dave Blank is the president/CEO of Real Racine (Racine County Convention & Visitors Bureau).