Arkansas Industry Insider Newsletter

Greetings Industry Insiders,

The turning of the New Year ahead is a reminder to us all – that the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism is just around the corner. Registration for the event begins January 2nd, and the line-up of impressive guests is almost set. Learn more about one of our guests in this newsletter.

As we close out 2012, we reflect on how our industry has focused on guest service training this year with the Welcome to Arkansas program. And every new year brings some changes as well. Read about the changes we’ll be seeing in the Little Rock skyline in the coming year below.

We’d also like to congratulate the city of Fort Smith on its recent designation as the number one “True Western Town” by True West Magazine for the year 2013. What a great way to start off the year!

Happy Holidays!

Joe David Rice

Governor’s Conference Preview: Keynote Speaker Seth Mattison

Who’s coming to your door? How should you work with them to bring them back for more? And how do you cement a good team in the workplace?

Governor’s Conference keynote speaker Seth Mattison is an expert at attracting and retaining the best talent from every generation. He’ll share how to relate to employees and guests alike, no matter their age – and elaborate on how to narrow the gaps between those groups.

Mattison is just one of the spectacular guests on tap. We’re very excited about the schedule and the quality of talent that will come share great information at the event.

Online registration for the 39th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism opens January 2nd. Look for the Governor's Conference logo on to register. This year, registration is both available in the traditional format and in a new, easy-to-navigate online version. We’ll send you a link next Wednesday.

Marriott Brand to Replace Peabody in Little Rock

Preliminary paperwork approved last week has paved the way for the Marriott name to replace the Peabody ducks on the downtown Little Rock skyline.

Gretchen Hall, president and CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, said a lease document should be executed early in January. A timeline for the ownership transition should be more complete at that time. We’ll keep you posted.

Hospitality Hot Tips Had a Hot Year

The Welcome to Arkansas “First Impressions” Guest Service Training and Hospitality Hot Tips proved to be pretty hot this past year. Here are the highlights from 2012:

• The guest service training curriculum was redesigned
• Scott Sudduth and Kristine Puckett held nearly 60 training sessions
• The Hospitality Hot Tips blog has hosted almost 2,000 visitors
• Four Hospitality Hot Tips videos on YouTube were viewed a combined 1,356 times

While we could tell you how great the training is, we thought it would be better if you heard it from someone else. Jackie Duvall recently attended a training session in Dardanelle, and she had some pretty nice things to say. Visit to learn about Jackie’s experience and for information on how to sign up.

While there, subscribe to Hospitality Hot Tips to receive regular refreshers on how to best serve your guests.

Social Media Grows Up

Social media is growing up. While some of us are still learning all of the ins-and-outs of managing a social media presence, there is now a lot of excellent data to help guide decision-making. In fact, the ratings agency Nielsen and its brand research arm, NM Incite, have just released an excellent study on how consumers and businesses are using social media. See the entire Social Media Report 2012 here to learn about when, where and how people are using social media, as well as how they are responding to promotions and advertising.

Serving Customers Socially

According to a 2012 study by the Temkin Group, 86% of survey respondents who reported being satisfied with their most recent customer service interaction with a company were likely to repurchase as opposed to only 9% who said they would likely purchase again after being very dissatisfied with their customer service experience.

Social channels are still somewhat new avenues for companies to serve their customers. Digital marketing group eMarketer analyzes customer service expectations consumers hold and how businesses should use various channels – social and traditional – to meet customer needs at various stages of the purchase cycle. Get the scoop in the full article: “Across Channels, Retailers Push to Keep Customers Happy.”

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