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Messages from the President

Service Levels Set Duluth Apart From Competition - May

By: Anna Tanski | May 11, 2015

When traveling on business I make a practice of tuning into the local news to learn what’s happening in that community. While attending a conference in Monterey last week I was amused the traffic report included a sea lion on the highway disrupting the morning commute. Apparently it’s not that unusual along the California coast for a wayward sea lion to interfere with traffic flow, but I’d never heard such a thing.

This got me thinking about what attributes draw visitors to our city and set us apart from other destinations.

Monterey is a quaint waterfront city built into the rugged hillside of this scenic part of the state. It features Cannery Row with repurposed warehouses now home to shops, restaurants and hotels. A paved biking/hiking trail follows the shoreline for miles and sightseeing cruises depart from a bustling marina. The Monterey Bay Aquarium highlights local marine life and is situated directly on the waterfront. Sound familiar?

The conference, put on by Destination Marketing Association International, included more than 100 attendees from across the U.S. and several countries, who came together to learn, discuss and compare notes. Regardless of budget size or name recognition, our communities are not that dissimilar.

Although certain parallels could be drawn between destinations, we all agreed now, more than ever, our communities need to identify unique features and capitalize on those differences. Our latest research indicated Duluth’s customer satisfaction rating at more than 8.69 out of 10 which exceeds the U.S. average. Service is the key.

Clearly, visitors can dine in a restaurant, visit an attraction or go shopping in any city they want. When they choose Duluth, we need to respond with genuine appreciation for their patronage and a sincere desire to provide outstanding customer service. It’s essential this mindset be at the forefront of every visitor interaction. Ultimately, these experiences are what distinguish our city from others.

As local businesses ramp up for the peak summer months, Visit Duluth teams up with the Duluth Area Attractions Council to offer “I’m a Tourist Too!” Each year in May, this complimentary training program, geared toward frontline employees, is offered to restaurant servers, hotel front desk, parking attendants and retail workers who often provide a visitor’s first impression during their stay.

This program emphasizes the importance of being engaged with the customer and reinforces the larger impact these interactions represent. After the training session, attendees receive a pass to attend every Duluth attraction free of charge. This provides the opportunity for workers to share first hand accounts and offer enthusiastic endorsements when customers ask for recommendations.

We’re fortunate our city encompasses an ever expanding array of recreation options that entice outdoor enthusiasts. The natural beauty of Lake Superior provides an alluring panoramic backdrop that can’t be found anywhere else. Duluth’s attractions strive to offer fresh experiences, unique retail shops abound and the evolving culinary scene complete the savory menu of items for visitors to build their customized getaway.

Visit Duluth diligently markets these diverse offerings to ensure the tourism industry continues making a positive contribution to the local economy. Working together we can deliver outstanding customer service that sets Duluth apart from the competition.


Anna Tanski, President/CEO