Roll out the Red Carpet

Roll out the Red Carpet
April 10, 2023

Roll out the red carpet! You’ve seen the red carpet rolled out for any number of award shows—the Oscars, the Grammy’s, or the CMT awards. Do communities ever roll out the red carpet?

Recently Marilyn Schlake and I went to Hastings and provided Red Carpet Service training for the Hastings Chamber of Commerce and Adams County Tourism. We held two sessions and had a wide cross section of what we call "front line employees." The attendees ranged from business owners, to waiters and waitresses, to hotel front desk employees.

Red carpet service is all about providing the best customer service that you can. Providing great customer service takes practice. We find that one of the most challenging activities that we do in the training is giving directions. We ask participants to give directions to one of many local attractions. Even though they live in the community they struggle to provide directions. Our participants don’t remember street names, or call the streets something other than what the street signs say. If the attraction is out of town, sometimes directions include landmarks. Sometimes those landmarks haven’t existed for decades, but the locals know. It is important to practice giving directions that work for people who are not familiar with the area.

Red carpet service takes preparation. Our hotel clerks put in a couple of minutes to ‘roll out the red carpet’ to us by drawing some designs on our key card holders. It didn’t take much time and it was a nice touch. Do they do that for every customer? I don’t know, but they could. How do you provide red carpet service to your customers? Do you know their names? Their regular orders? Do you appreciate their business . . . even if you are the only option in town  People can always choose another option, everything is available in another community or online. Be appreciative of your customers, thank them for coming in.

Another activity that we did in our Red Carpet Service training was to give the attendees a chance to write down all of the attractions in their community. In our first session, one group came up with more than 50 attractions. In the next session, after being told that the top team last time was 50+, each group came up with 50+ and the winning group had 70+ attractions. We had some college students in our first session, and a couple of them were amazed at all the things to do, and they were excited to go visit some of these places. In all their time in Hastings, no one had ever mentioned them.

It is easy to forget some of the things that make your community unique. Over time they just become normal. Practice walking or driving through different parts of your community, and try to look at the things to do with the eyes of a visitor. One of our presentation slides shows a big city and a forest, the people in the big city think a forest is very cool because they don’t see it on a regular basis. Rivers, lakes, and farms are all interesting to people who don’t see them often.

Red carpet service can set your community apart. Our Red Carpet Service program is part of our People Attraction focus area. Why is it there? Sometimes tourists become residents. A tourist could be a business traveler who actually works from home, maybe they want to get out of the city. Perhaps that stranger is in your community for a job interview—not only are they looking for the right fit in the job, but they are also looking for the right place to live. Red Carpet Service can set your community up for success!

If your community could benefit from Red Carpet Service or any of the other Rural Prosperity Nebraska ideas that I’ve discussed in this column, please reach out to me. I’d love to speak to your community about these topics. You can reach me at or at the Thayer County office at 402-768-7212.