Thursday, June 26, 2008
Hospitality is such an important ingredient in so many successful recipes.
I like going places where the people are kind.
And I usually go back – again and again.
We all like to associate with good, friendly folks.
Prices play a part. The quality of the product plays a part.
But I will often settle for a higher price or maybe a different type purchase than I originally wanted, if I feel welcome.
Last week I had a couple of visitors at the newspaper office helping with a special promotion – one was from Arkansas and the other from Missouri.
Overall, they loved Holly Springs.
One said, “The folks in Mississippi are just nicer than most places.”
They had good experiences – at restaurants, hotels, convenience stores and other places.
They even told me they enjoyed being around the newspaper office and the people who work here.
But they also felt they were given somewhat of a cold shoulder at a couple of places. They left both without doing business there.
When they asked a question at one, the worker simply pointed to a sign instead of responding kindly.
At the other, no one seemed to want to help them. They waited and waited.
Our front-line people in our businesses in Holly Springs and Marshall County play such an important role in the opinion someone forms about our city and county. They can either “make it or break it,” in other words.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry, in a meeting covered last week by staff writer Sue Watson, urged them all to be ambassadors. They need to be knowledgeable about our community and what it has to offer. Most of all, they need to smile and be courteous.
The newspaper is equally important.
People call us quite often, asking questions about our county. Or they will simply stop by – realizing the newspaper office is a source for loads of information. We’ve been in business since 1865.
And the pages of the newspaper itself say a lot about Marshall County and its people.
It made me stop and think about how the staff of The South Reporter and the Pigeon Roost News can be more hospitable. Too often, it depends on the day and the deadline pressure we’re facing.
A few weeks back Emma and I were in Birmingham, Ala., for the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament. On the way home, we stopped at a place for breakfast. When we walked in, the two men behind the counter did not say a word – like “hi” or “good to see you” or “welcome.” There were a couple of tables occupied by customers. The rest of the tables were dirty.
I told Emma, “Let’s go.”
She was a bit hesitant. But I explained once we got back to the car.
We drove to another restaurant, just a short distance away and the same chain by the way. And, wow, our experience was totally the opposite.
The employees were all smiling. We heard a big “hello.” And they immediately seated us, greeted us more and took our order.
A man and his son came in, sat beside us, and we later found out they had the same experience – going to the other place first.
We want people to enjoy Holly Springs and Marshall County. We want them to carry good thoughts with them when they leave, because they’re going to tell others – whether good or bad.
We want them to stop again. We want them to keep coming back. And we want them to consider staying even longer, possibly even relocating.
Webster’s dictionary defines hospitable as “treating guests with warmth and generosity.”
Let’s all work on that.
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