Southern Hospitality can be taught

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Would you like for your staff and/or your business to consistently provide eye contact, smiles and warm greetings to customers? How about if they offered helpful information, a kind goodbye and a sincere “Y’all come back again?”

The Southern Hospitality reputation which Mississippi and especially Natchez are so well known for throughout the world wasn’t created just by chance.

It began and developed because all those wonderful Natchez folks who came before us cared about our neighbors, our town, our region and our state. In other words, we take hospitality “to heart.”

Free training in hospitality and customer service will be made available to Natchez businesses in February.

Alcorn State University, the Mississippi Development Authority, Isle of Capri, along with other community partners like Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce, Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau and Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton are launching the opening of Alcorn’s Southern Hospitality Academy.

An educational program has been developed that will improve customer service and support the growth of that critical element in business, the bottom line. The objectives of this program are to improve the level and quality of Natchez hospitality and customer service, to support a well-trained frontline group of ambassadors, to encourage the success of conferences and conventions, to attract additional activity to our area, and to promote local pride through individual positive attitudes about work, the region and the future.

A session for management and owners will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The following Thursday on Feb. 25 the same session will be provided for frontline and support staff. Same time — same place.

Each session is limited to 70 participants.

It’s no mystery that excellence in customer service is often the difference between success and failure in the hospitality industry and for business in general. So, together let’s “keep ’em comin’ back … to Natchez!”

Ruth Nichols is the associate vice president for branch and extension campuses at Alcorn State University.