Never underestimate the power of friendliness. Two weeks ago we were all thrilled, and maybe even a tiny bit shocked, when the 2012 Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards ranked Charleston as the Top City In The World. THE top city in the WORLD…last year we claimed the top city position for the U.S., but now we’re on top of it all.
Those who live here or have visited here certainly appreciate all that Charleston offers. The combination of sights, sounds, flavors, scents, etc. are one-of-a-kind. But there were comments on the interwebs about how little ol’ Charleston could legitimately claim to be a better destination than Paris, Sydney, Florence, Tokyo, Rio, etc. A fair question given the wonder of those cities as well.
But Irene Schneider, the Readers’ Choice Awards editor, explained it very well at an event held in NYC on October 18th to celebrate the award and Jet Blue’s new flights to Charleston. She noted that any/all of these cities, including Charleston, could be perceived as the top in world on any given day. It’s subjective, and it’s a bit like arguing over the best band, album, movie or sports team ever. But Irene reminded everyone that the awards are driven by the readers’ scores on a short list of criteria – Atmosphere & Ambiance, Culture & Sites, Lodging, Restaurants, Shopping, and Friendliness.
Charleston had strong scores across all the categories, but was head and shoulders above the other cities in one key criteria – Friendliness. No city can claim the degree of legendary hospitality and graciousness that is simply baked into the way of life here. And while great sites, lodging and food draw people in, the friendliness factor turns them into life-long advocates. It’s the thread that weaves all the other criteria together into a singular, memorable experience that gets them talking and sharing and coming back for more.
So, while building or sustaining a great product..never underestimate the people/friendly factor. It just may be the ingredient that takes you to the top.