Tourism businesses and communities succeed by doing best what matters most to visitors. Hospitality and customer service are the responsibility of everyone in an organization and every segment of a community. Imagine the visitor's experience through their point of view. Whether traveling for the day or for an overnight stay, visitors interact with many people, such as gas station attendants, who do not consider themselves part of the tourism industry.

Did you know?

  • It can cost up to 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one?
  • The average business never hears from 96% of unhappy customers.
  • For every complaint received, the average company has 26 customers with problems. That person tells 9-10 people.

Source: Collins School of Hospitality Management, California State Polytechnic University, 1998

It is more important than ever to create great visitor experiences. With social media, such as blogs and Facebook, visitors can communicate their delight or disgust quickly and more widely.

Hospitality Habits

Here are a few hospitality habits to create experiences that keep people coming to your business and community.

The Community

  • Make a good first impression by maintaining good, clear signage, including welcome signs or banners at the edge of town and other points of entry such as the airport.
  • Provide convenient parking and easily accessible public facilities, such as restrooms, picnic tables, benches, etc.
  • Discover how you can make community improvements by driving through and walking through your community like you were a first-time visitor. What are the first impressions? What are the lasting impressions?
  • Retail, Restaurants & the Visitor's Bureau Personnel

Be welcoming and friendly.

  • Make the shopping experience easy.
  • Be open when people want to visit. Set hours of operation in relation to the area attractions.
  • Offer merchandise that is unique to the area and the tourists who visit the area.
  • Offer an authentic atmosphere that appeals to the senses of sight, smell, and sound.
  • Know your community. (Discover the unusual and special aspects of the area. Learn how to give good directions. Reject the idea that “There’s nothing to see or do around here.” Get familiar with the CVB brochures and website. Be a good model of civic pride.)
  • Recognize that local residents also enjoy shopping like a tourist.
  • Learn more in this section of the Ohio Tourism Toolbox.

Tour Guides

  • Be on time and be prepared.
  • Wear a large nametag with your first name.
  • Encourage shops and restaurants to offer discount coupons for group tours.
  • Be positive and be a problem solver.
  • Get input from the travelers.

Essential Skills for Everyone

  • Make a good first impression.
  • Be attentive, patient, friendly, approachable, helpful and positive.
  • Maintain a good appearance - clean, neat, simple clothing that reflects the image your business and community portray.
  • Demonstrate pride in your community and job.
  • Communicate clearly .
  • Make a good last impression.

The information above was adapted from Making Hospitality a Habit, resources developed by OSU Extension educators Tribe, Nesbitt, and Williams.

"You never know what kind of a day a person is having, so treat them well" (Dan Cathy, President and chief operating officer, Chick-fil-A). Chick-fil-A's Recipe for Customer Service in Fast Company Magazine.

Resources for Industry Professionals

Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
Restaurant Hospitality

Resources for Educators & Researchers

Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research (The Professional Journal of the Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education, Sage Publications, Inc.)
List of Tourism Hospitality Journals - Australian Business Deans Council - Journal Ratings List
Ohio Department of Education, Career Tech - Hospitality and Tourism Career Field