Column: Celebrate long lines and long-lasting memories
After celebrating our anniversary in the Los Cabos region of Mexico, I had an epiphany upon returning home. While sifting through photos and reminiscing about our marvelous getaway, it dawned on me that Duluth has the same opportunity to create memorable experiences for our visitors! What set this vacation experience apart from others?
From the moment we arrived at our resort, Jair, the concierge, made an immediate impression: attentive, warm and genuine. When we inquired about his favorite local restaurants, Jair offered suggestions that made us feel like we had the inside scoop on authentic cuisine. Every question we presented received an enthusiastic response and detailed directions.
While exploring town one afternoon, we happened upon a casual open air restaurant owned by a Canadian couple. The tremendous service and exceptional quality brought us back twice. (Watching hockey on TV
was a bonus.) During another outing, we wandered along cobblestone streets and discovered Nancy, an ex-pat from Arizona operating a quaint cigar bar. Her engaging personality drew us in and we returned several times during the week, bypassing competitors and opting for the hospitality and service she easily offered.
In Mexico, our accents and Midwest pallor easily tagged us as tourists. In Duluth, it’s not as apparent who may be visiting from out of town, which means the caliber of service and spirit of hospitality needs to be ingrained in our city’s culture. Each of our newfound Mexican friends created singular impressions we carried with us. When combined, the results created two new ambassadors for the region. In Duluth, we can capitalize on each visitor experience in much the same way.
On a recent Friday evening, my husband and I spontaneously decided to go out for dinner without making a reservation. The first restaurant we chose had an hour wait for seating. We were ravenous and tried another restaurant, only to encounter a lengthy wait again. This made for close quarters as patrons patiently passed the time, so I seized the opportunity to conduct an informal survey of the crowd. A large group of family members gathered to celebrate a birthday, another couple had travelled from the Twin Cities, and there were several families in town for a sports tournament. So many different reasons bringing us together under one roof.
The next day I was trolling for an open parking spot so I could shop for last-minute Easter items, and noticed a vast number of Ontario license plates in the lot. Once inside, there was a commotion in my aisle when two Canadian friends bumped into one another. Each was staying in Duluth before flying from the Duluth International Airport on vacation, but they had booked different packages. They discussed the pricing differences of their packages and planned to get together for dinner at their final destination. Amazing how we can dine at a restaurant, shop at a retailer, fill up at a gas station or walk down the street next to people from so many different regions.
Like Duluth, the Los Cabos region relies heavily on tourism for a thriving economy. Our community has the opportunity to make memories, create ambassadors and entice visitors from far and wide to experience the Duluth we are so very proud to call home. Together, we can strive to make a lasting impression on each visitor — an experience they’ll never forget.
Let’s embrace the upcoming summer tourist season.
Be grateful for long lines, lack of parking spaces and visitors who chose Duluth as their destination to make memories.
Anna Tanski works for Visit Duluth, and lives in Hermantown with her husband, Jason. She has two children, Allison and Steven. She’s a native of the Twin Ports, born and raised in Superior, Wis., hence a Green Bay Packer fan to the core. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.