Don't Worry, Be Friendly

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Whenever I travel around the Finger Lakes I try to make it a point to watch people and it seems that something alway tells me when I am looking at a visitor to the area. It might a slight uneasiness in their surroundings, or maybe the 50 Finger Lakes brochures and maps they are holding ( I am very astute ). In any case I try to make it a point to go up to them and ask if I can help them find something. In 99% of the cases the people are happy that I took the time to ask. Visitors love the Finger Lakes, and one of the most common comments I hear is how friendly the people in the region are. For the most part I have to agree, but I also think we still have a bit of work to do.

The reason for this blog is that because, from time to time, I go into a business, cafe or tavern where the employees wait on the customers, and then return to have a conversation with the regular patrons. They might be very friendly while waiting on the visitors, but show no interest in them after that. It isn't hard to know which ones are not from the area. They are the ones at the end of the bar looking around like they are lost or not really saying much to anyone. They are also the ones that just left after 1 drink.

Larger hotels, restaurants and chambers of commerce spend a lot of time in training their employees on how to make guests feel comfortable. It is usually the smaller restaurants, cafes or bars that don' t seem to take a couple of minutes to make strangers feel welcome. Owners of these businesses should make it a point to teach their employees to try and make vistors feel comfortable. A simple " are you from the area?" is enough to open the conversation and get the ball rolling. If they are not from the area asking " so where are you from?" shows an interest in them. The conversation usually goes on naturally from there. I have met people from all over the world right here in our own backyard and had some amazing conversations by asking those very questions.

I realize that it is difficult for some people to talk to strangers, but it really shouldn't be. After all, you are just trying to make someone feel comfortable in our home. Every one of us should take the time to do this because when it comes to promoting the Finger Lakes region we are all ambassadors. It isn't hard to do and it can make a huge difference in our guest's vacation and how the Finger Lakes are perceived overall. The process is pretty easy really....Don't worry...be friendly.

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