When it comes to drawing new visitors to our area, we have a considerable amount of competition. For most, allotted vacation time is limited, and travelers have many options at their disposal. Our competition includes destinations as near as Springfield and Chicago and as far as across the country—or even around the world.
How can we stand out in a world of global competition? By presenting an environment that ensures our visitors’ time spent here is memorable. It should be more than a cluster of dining, shopping, lodging, and entertainment events. It should be an experience.
In other words, the experiences our visitors will remember for months—and years—will be because someone took the extra time, energy, and interest to give them more than they believed they would receive. Experiences that go “above and beyond” are the ones we later share with our friends, relatives, and co-workers. It’s the times someone took our best interests to heart and made it their personal mission to ensure we wouldn’t just be “satisfied,” but we would be pleasantly surprised, and perhaps even thrilled, at the results. It’s often the little things that have the biggest impact.
The ways in which we can give our visitors—our customers—more are numerous. Best of all, they’re usually efforts and gestures that require little to no expense…just the ability to place yourself in your customers’ shoes to better understand what it takes to make them smile. Here are some examples of memorable experiences to spark future ideas for your organization:
• A hotel manager who followed up a guest’s visit with a personal thank-you note—and a coupon offering a discount for a future stay.
• Shuttle drivers at the airport parking lot giving you a slip of paper with the row and space number to remind you where you parked.
• A courtesy clerk for a local shop who not only insists on taking packages out to the car for you, but sincerely asks you how your day has been.
• The waiter or waitress who offers a fresh cookie to the little one who dropped his.
• A business that selects a customer at random each month to receive a special gift for no reason at all.
It’s all about the experience. How can you share this with your customers? How can they participate? Can they see a backstage production? Can they create what you produce? Can you show them something they’ve never seen before? Do you make the best homemade apple pie? Is your small town cafe a local hangout in which a visitor could experience “real Americana”? Are there stories you can tell? History you can share?
When you cross paths with newcomers to the area who choose to do business with you, please take a moment to recognize their value, your commitment to top-notch service, and vow not only to make their visit to the Peoria area one to remember—make it an experience they’ll never forget. IBI