For the next eight to 10 weeks, license plates from throughout Canada and the United States will grace the paved and bumpy roadways of Newfoundland and Labrador, and if one wanted to take the time, sitting by the roadside recording where vehicles have travelled from could make for an interesting campfire conversation — if the ban stays lifted.
While the provincial government can’t guarantee a smooth ride over our highways, byways and other roadways, the one thing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have become famous for is their outstanding hospitality.
It seems every person who visits this grand province on Canada’s eastern coast leaves with a positive experience of how friendly the people are, and they can’t do enough to make sure you enjoy your visit.
That’s something to mighty be proud of, and is much better than any tourism advertisement that may appear on television — acting is easy to make things look good, but in-person experiences can’t be replicated on screen. Or can it? Tourist season lasts two to three months at its peak in this province, and customer service and friendly smiles are galore during this time, but how about the other nine or 10 months of the year when the majority of people walking into a local store, restaurant or hotel are locals.
It’s common to hear compliments from local people about the level of service received at such establishments, and most of the time it’s quite the opposite of what those stopping by for a quick visit walk out the door gushing about.
Later in this paper, one of correspondents vaguely describes an incident she encountered recently regarding customer service. The message one would get from reading this encounter, and knowing what tourists are saying, is that locals are being taken advantage of when it comes to customer service.
It would seem a dollar from a tourist has a greater value than a locally spent loonie.
What those working in the province’s service industry really need to keep in the back of their minds is that the tourist dollar may be a one-time affair, while the man or woman from just over the road could be a very good repeat customer — one who will show up at your business more frequently than a tourist who had one good experience in July, and won’t be back until next July.
If we want our neighbours to not be strangers, welcome them as you would a tourist. Make their experience the best they’ve ever had, and they’ll be back next week. Make it a bad one, and you will see the tourist again before the local.
Be a license plate watcher on the side of the road not in your business parking lot — it really doesn’t matter where a customer comes from.
Kevin Higgins is the editor of the Beacon, in Gander.