Every day I walk my two dogs to a park near my house and along the way is a small center with restaurants and service businesses. One of the newest additions to the center- a small café- just opened up last year. A few days ago I noticed that it was already going out of business.
Although I was sad to see a small neighborhood business close its doors, I wasn’t completely surprised- but not because the economy is still challenging or the restaurant business is a tough one to be in (although both statements are true). I wasn’t surprised because even though I passed the café every single day at the same time and saw the same people working there, not once, not one single time, did anyone in the business smile at me. Not once. Not a waiter, the chef, or the person I assumed to be the manager or owner. And I tend to be one of those people who smile first when I catch someone’s eye.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the reason the restaurant went out of business was because no one smiled. Of course, the reasons are much more complex than that. But I do think that if you want to be successful and grow your business, you need to be accessible, you need to be friendly- not just to your current customers, but also to any potential customers. You need to smile.
Which brings me around to the Washington Tourism Alliance. Last year, Washington’s state tourism office was completely eliminated. While Oregon spends $10 million, Idaho spends $7 million, Alaska spends $12 million and British Columbia spends $65 million on tourism marketing each year, the state of Washington spends $0. That’s zero, as in a big old goose egg.
Fortunately, a group of industry organizations and businesses have stepped up to the plate and formed the Washington Tourism Alliance. I attended the Alliance’s 2012 Summit and am impressed by this grass roots effort. By leveraging resources and partnerships, they have created a high-energy, promotional program designed to increase tourism and business from out-of-state companies.
The Washington Tourism Alliance- through its members and volunteers- is Washington state’s collective *smile*. For those of you who do business in Washington and want to smile back, visit their membership page.
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