What Australian tourism could learn from the US

The girl smiles at me with one of those big American smiles, flashing pearly whites below sparkling blue eyes.

"You have a wonderful day, sir," she says, still grinning like she's won lotto.

It's cheesy, but it puts a little spring in my step. It seems so genuine. She's got me believing that she would actually be pleased if I had a wonderful day. And I probably will now.

Maybe it was just for me, I'm thinking, but as I push through the glass doors to head back into Aria Hotel, I can hear her talking to another guest behind me: "You have a wonderful day, sir."

And it's like this everywhere. Las Vegas might conjure up images of flashing neon and dens of sin, but having just spent a few days there, what's made one of the biggest impressions is the ridiculously high level of service.

That smiling girl wasn't a manager, or a concierge, or even a waitress hoping for a tip. She was just one of the pool staff, whose job it is to take used towels from patrons and give them a little send-off as they re-enter the world of flashing poker machines and spinning roulette wheels.

Las Vegas service staff are good. Very good. Every bartender you meet is a pro. Every waiter or waitress feels like your best friend by the time you're flicking greenbacks over the bill. The concierges will do anything for you. The check-in staff smile and seem actually pleased by your presence.

Everyone's so damn chirpy. The whole city is a relentless barrage of kindness and goodwill, of people going out of their way to make sure you, the customer, have a wonderful day.

Want something taken care of? It's done. With a smile.

Now that's service, and it's surely something Australia could learn from. If you want people to have a good time, to feel good about their holiday and to consider coming back again, just make them feel welcome. Take care of them.

It's very rare that you'd find that level of service anywhere in Australia, from the highest quality restaurant to the most boutique tour operator. We just don't seem to do friendly and professional the way we should, and it's only when you go to a place like Las Vegas that you see how things really could be done.

It might seem unfair to compare us to Vegas though, as there are probably a few reasons the city can lord it over the rest of the world. For starters, theirs is an economy that relies extremely heavily on the happy tourist being there and being prepared to fork out their dollars (although you could argue that ours does too).

There's also the likelihood that the best in the business will be drawn to a place like Vegas to chase the big bucks. And the American tipping culture usually ensures a high level of service wherever you go.

Plus, Americans seem to have a natural, almost guileless enthusiasm for life that makes it much easier to pull off the whole "pleased to meet you, have a nice day" thing.

But there's no reason why Australia can't give that a go. Just a few more smiles, and an attitude that you're there to please the customer, rather than the other way around.

The rise of the Aussie dollar has created challenges for the tourism industry here, but if we want people to come over and be inspired to come back, the secret is simple: treat them like friends, and make sure they have a wonderful day.

Have you noticed the high level of service in US? Or is there somewhere in the world that's better? Could Australia learn from it?

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