Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "What you do speaks so loudly
that I cannot hear what you say."
Remembering a former mentor from my younger days in another city has
served me well over the years. He once made the point that, as a
marketer, he knew how to get people to come to our town once, but if their
expectations were not realized during their stay, then they simply will not
Marketing has to be backed up by substance. "The most fun you will ever
have, the best food you will ever taste, or the best room for the
lowest price" are all striking claims, but they must actually be reflected
in the experience or we will not create that all important lasting
impression that bring people back. We called it the "WOW" factor.
People who tell me what they think I need to know have always been more
valuable to me than those who simply tell me what they think I want to
hear. I also learned long ago that I get along much better with people
that do not like me, than I do with those who do not believe me.
As the current president of the Pigeon Forge Hotel & Lodging
Association, I became involved in what has evolved into a bit of a controversy
when our board of directors asked our city commissioners to pass an
ordinance prohibiting local lodging facilities from displaying rates on
their exterior signs.
The opponents of this action have said that my support for such a
measure is a blatant attack on free speech, placing shameless profits above
To the contrary, I had chosen to support the removal of rates, because
a precarious minority within our profession has elected to abuse our
first amendment rights by using their signs to scam the very people who
support our families by visiting our community.
I sincerely believe these individuals are placing the integrity of our
lodging industry and the reputations of all of Pigeon Forge''s honest
businesses in jeopardy.
Webster''s dictionary identifies integrity as "uncompromising adherence
to a code of moral, artistic or other values - utter sincerity, honesty
and candor, avoidance of deception, expediency, or shallowness of any
Three Knoxville television stations, The Mountain Press and the
Associated Press have each documented that nearly every lodging facility that
posts their rates along the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, try to charge our
guests $40-$60 more per room than they advertise on their signs. This
is not my opinion, it is documented and video taped fact.
I think it is no less than ironic that the very ones decrying their
right to speak freely are supporting the same folks attempting to cheat
our unwary visitors with bait & switch tactics. If the rates on their
signs were the same rates offered by their clerks, this debate would have
We all know that when our guests are impressed, they go home and tell
all their friends about us. Conversely, when they are unhappy or feel
taken, they also tell their friends, as well as anyone else who will
listen to them, or even more damaging, the thousands who will read their
angry postings on popular websites like Trip Advisor.
For a community that survives almost exclusively on tourism, we cannot
afford for one single visitor to question the integrity of our
That''s why more than 100 owners and general managers out of the 140
lodging properties in Pigeon Forge understand the unscrupulous few must be
prevented from damaging the future our predecessors envisioned and our
children count on us to protect.
So, when the lodging grifters claim to be the victims of an industry
simply trying to protect its reputation from thbehavior of some, I
am reminded of "The Paradoxical 10 Commandments." They were written by
a young man named Kent Keith, then a 19 year old sophomore attending
Harvard University in 1968.
So profound, in fact, his words were found hanging on the wall of
Mother Teresa''s room after her death. I would like to share them with you
1-People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centeredLove them
2-If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motivesDo
3-If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemiesSucceed
4-The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrowDo good anyway.
5-Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable Be honest and frank anyway.
6-The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by
the smallest men and women with the smallest mindsThink big anyway.
7-People favor underdogs but follow only top dogsFight for a few
8-What you spend years building may be destroyed overnightBuild it
9-People really need help but may attack you if you do help themHelp
10-Give the world the best you have and you''ll get kicked in the
teethGive the world the best you have anyway.
Professional integrity has been, is now, and will always be good for
business. If some say they disagree with youPlease, believe it anyway!