How bad businesses kill tourism in small towns

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Good businesses do more to promote tourism in a small town than anyone else. Bad businesses destroy tourism.

Let me sketch a scenario for you. Joe saves the entire year for a holiday and decides to visit your town during the holidays. He arrives with his family full of excitement and anticipation. Before Joe decided to come to your town he researched a number of other options. He spoke to his friends and family and he asked Google as well.

So Joe decided that your town is the place where he will spend his hard earned cash. While on holiday Joe decides to take his family for breakfast. He drives around town and decides to go to Mary’s Coffee Shop. It looks nice and cozy and there are lots of people having breakfast. In no time the expectation of a great family breakfast turns into a disaster. The food is bad. The coffee is terrible and the staff have a serious attitude problem. Clearly Mary has no intention of servicing or keeping customers. What Joe didn’t know is that Mary has never run a coffee shop and doesn’t know a thing about making a good cup of coffee. Mary thought that it will be romantic to own her own coffee shop, but Mary shouldn’t own a coffee shop, ever.

This all sound too familiar don’t you think? It gets worse, because Joe has a number of these really bad experiences in your little town. There are more than 30 coffee shops and restaurants in your town and they all complain that business is bad. They seldom seem to survive past the holiday season. The next season there is another coffee shop that opens where Mary’s Coffee Shop used to be. And so the cycle continues.

What has happened here? In the first place, Joe went home feeling that he has been robbed of his idyllic holiday. The entire experience has left a bad taste in his mouth because of the bad service he received. He tells his friends and his family and instead of your little town turning Joe into a prophet, you have turned him into a terrorist. He is going around telling everyone he knows how bad your town actually is. So Joe never comes back because Joe has many, many choices. Why on earth will he come back to a place where the service is so poor?

In the meantime the towns business chamber hear about these things all the time but instead of acting, they turn a blind eye. Why? Because it’s not in the interest of the business chamber to expose businesses. The chamber collects membership fees and they won’t collect as much if they chase their customers away! So, these bad experiences are carefully swept under the carpet. Everyone in the little town knows that the emperor has no clothes, but they say and do nothing.

Top Twenty changes all that. Joe will in future search on Top Twenty for a place to eat breakfast and he will find those with the high ratings. He finds Susan’s Coffee Shop just off the main street. Susan is passionate about her business and loves serving customers. She has a high rating and many positive reviews. Now Susan gets all the business and the bad coffee shops get nothing. What happens? They don’t survive and some of them close down – for good reason. They shouldn’t have been in business in the first place. Susan on the other hand is starting to make good money and is steadily growing her business.

Bad businesses are everywhere, but in small towns they can cause enormous damage to the tourism industry of a town. Top Twenty ensures that good businesses are rewarded for good service.

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Marthinus Strydom, President of Toptwenty shares his special knowledge and insights about rural tourism on his blog at www.toptwenty.co.za. Top Twenty assists small towns and their businesses in the development and marketing of their local business communities.

4 thoughts on “How bad businesses kill tourism in small towns

  • 3rd September 2016 at 10:00 pm
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    Great article. I speak and write as the voice of reason for rural communities. I try to be helpful and show ways to improve the experience. Alas, most of ‘them’ refuse simple changes in attitude. Especially towards those ‘not from’ there. I still believe in small towns. But many of ‘them’ are their own worst enemies. They do not believe that anyone else could be put out by shoddy product or hostile service. Well- You can lead a horse to water, and all that.

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  • 8th April 2016 at 8:55 am
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    Absolutely. What always amazes me is the shortsightedness of businesses in small towns. They think that they are “outside” of the country somehow. There are many that give really good service, but eish, the cliques are too much. A small business that gives poor service is deadly for a town that survives on tourism.

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