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We travel; we have money - so who wants our business?

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Published: July 12, 2012 at 11:21 AM

PARIS - I've been in Europe for the past week, and my travels so far have left me so appreciative of those venues and destinations where the staff seems to genuinely welcome their guests' business.

Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station
We tried to enter the Wizarding World the original way - via Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station in London. (The Tube is wonderful, by the way, and the staff very helpful.)

I say "seems" because there's no real way for me to know whether someone truly wants me to be there, or not. But even if a person doesn't care for me, my presence or my money, if he or she can fake it and make believe I'm welcome - that's good enough for me.

That said, it pains me to see people cramming into tourist hotspots where the staff clearly isn't bothering to put on a show. They hate our guts, and aren't afraid to let that disdain show. They know that thousands more tourists will be by tomorrow, even if the ones they burn today never return.

Well, I say that as travel fans - we make those tourism employees' dreams come true. Let's resolve to speak up, and to listen to one another, so that we can make real the dream of tourists never again darkening the doorways of restaurants, museums, historic sites, attractions, and yes, even theme parks, where the staff can't be bothered even to pretend that we're welcome.

I'll name names at the end of my trip - not just of the places that shunned us, but the ones that welcomed us, too. In the meantime, though, let's use the comments to warn fellow Theme Park Insider readers of places you've visited where it seemed they'd rather you and your money went elsewhere.

Readers' Opinions

From 81.70.136.4 on July 12, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Paris (Parisians) and feeling welcome as a tourist will be a tough one. Even if you try to speak their language the majority treats you as garbage. There are always exaptions but they are few.
Thats why traveling to the US is so much fun, except for customs who also would rather shoot you then let you spent your money in their country.
From Daniel Etcheberry on July 12, 2012 at 1:13 PM
Cirque Du Soleil's "O" in Las Vegas; the box office employee told me that my ticket was for the "yesterday" show which was untrue. Then he gave me a seat that was not wheelchair accessible. No one at the box office seemed to care. And this show ain't cheap!
From Anon Mouse on July 12, 2012 at 1:39 PM
I've been to Europe a long time ago. It was hit and miss then. I'm sure London is experiencing lots of rain. The inclement weather was the first downer. It doesn't get pleasant until you reach Italy.

France was the most prickly. As you know, France would be great if it wasn't for the French.

As least do as the locals do. Drink to excess. You'll forget about your troubles. Europe does liquor like no other place. German and Austrian beers. French and Italian wines. It was amazing.

From Doug Jenkins on July 12, 2012 at 1:56 PM
Great idea! We should have an area for complaints /compliments about US and overseas travel. I can't stand for someone to look down their nose at me and be rude or condescending, but still take my money. When I was much younger, while living/working in a resort area, I was guilty of the "I'm a local" mentality. I see now that we were just biting the hands that fed us.
From 74.212.201.170 on July 12, 2012 at 3:21 PM
Two words: Magic Mountain.
From 84.56.107.223 on July 12, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Go to Russia next and French service staff will look very fake emotional afterwards, since showing any emotions postive or negative like smiling is considered unprofessional there.
Just enjoy cultural differences. That we got the money now behave according to our expectation aproach goes nowhere.


From Russell Meyer on July 13, 2012 at 8:01 AM
Living in an area that is a perpetual tourist destination (Washington DC), it's hard not to grow frustrated with tourists that don't understand how things work or want attractions to be more than they are. More and more cities are trying to balance their books on the backs of tourists and only see them as walking ATMs that are going to spend their money regardless of the service provided. Between special taxes on airfares, rental cars, hotels, tolls that offer discounts for locals, and public transit that deliberately increases fares on people who don't live in the city, tourism is more about pulling everything including the pocket lint out of every single outsider that walks into your city than showing them a good time hoping they'll come back in 10 years.

In general, the tourism industry as a whole has lost its charm. It's no longer about going out of your way trying to get a tourist to want to come back for another visit, it's about trying to separate the tourist from as much of their money as possible. I think the industry has discovered that most people can only afford to take one or two vacations a year, and with so many exotic destinations becomming far more accessible than 20 years ago, tourism agencies have begun to realize the chances of a foreigner visiting the same place a third or fourth time in their lifetime was becomming more and more rare. Those agencies lost the desire to work for repeat business, because it didn't matter how pleasant they were, the tourists wouldn't make a repeat visit.

Also, most major tourist detinations are pretty stagnant. Sure, exhibits change and a new museum or attraction may get built, but if you've been to Buckingham Palace, it's the same today than it was 20-30-40-50 years ago. That's where theme parks have an edge, and why I think we see theme park chains going out of their way to make sure guests enjoy their stay. Those businesses thrive on repeat visits to grow, and are constantly needed to make additionas and improvements not only to stay ahead of the competition, but just to give more reasons for prior guests to come back again.

We were in Prague, Sweden, and Denmark over the past winter, and while we never ran into a situation where we felt that we weren't welcome, we never came across a situation where we felt that someone was going over the top to get us to come back.

From M. Ryan Traylor on July 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM
Robert, I agree with the brief comment on the Tube. On my trip to London last year I fell in love with the efficiency of moving passengers/guests through the station, onto the platforms, and beneath the city. The one way queueing is a much better system than a multi-point station entry as scene in NYC.
From Sylvain Comeau on July 13, 2012 at 2:54 PM
Paris in particular is notorious for having contempt for tourists. I wonder how fast their attitude would change if tourists started to boycott them...
From Joshua Counsil on July 13, 2012 at 8:04 PM
Nobody does customer service like the United States. This country is so demanding of its businesses that it has online reviews for everything. I needed to find a new dentist in my area and Yelp returned hundreds of results, each covering areas ranging from the waiting room amenities to the friendliness of the receptionists. Last week, I needed a passport photo, and I was shocked to see reviews of local post offices! Post offices!

I've decided that friendly, disingenuous service is almost always more appreciated than rude, authentic service.

From Anthony Murphy on July 13, 2012 at 8:55 PM
Sounds good!
From Anthony Murphy on July 13, 2012 at 8:57 PM
BTW, are you stopping by DLP. I would love to hear your input being a WDW Cast Member. Its a great park, but something seems off.......
From Joseph Catlett on July 14, 2012 at 5:29 AM
I've always felt that the Parisians get a bad wrap. I've lived in France and visited as a tourist twice, once as a teenager and the second time with my wife. In the entire time I was there I ran into exactly one overtly rude person and that was in a Metro station on the outskirts of Paris. In this instance, all of the Metro ticket machines were out of order so I went to the booth to buy one from the ticket seller. He however tried to charge me a fee more than twice the correct amount. Speaking French (and savy to the fare prices) I called him on it and quoted the correct price. He wouldn't budge, so I told him off and decided to go with my gut instinct and hopped the turnstyle, got on the Metro and got off at the next stop and paid there (the proper price).

Now, like I said, this guy was the exception. I honestly do beleive that when you go to a foreign country at least try to learn some handy local language phrases. You will be surprised, especially by the French, how much they appreciate it. The French love their language and have a real pride in their culture and will respect you for at least making an attempt.

From Mike Seary on July 15, 2012 at 12:04 PM
To be fair, most Frenchmen I have met openly admit that Parisians are rude to everyone (fellow countrymen included).

Good friend who is Louisiana French (I live in New Orleans) who spent half his life in the rural areas of Auvergne, once told me "Mike, don't feel bad - Parisians hate us TOO".

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