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Thinking out of the box while operating under a microscope

Thinking out of the box while operating under a microscope

Living in a community like Tombstone Arizona that relies on a continual stream of tourists to exist – is continually is under the microscope of everyone that walks down Allen Street.    There are continual “arm chair quarterbacks” that visit Tombstone that know everything about how to make Tombstone better.  For Example…they know:

  • how an event should be conducted;
  • what goods should be sold in the stores;
  • how the food and event admissions should be priced;
  • how the history should be told;
  • and on and on.

Ohhhh and some of those TripAdvisor comments are painful and hurtful to read especially when community volunteers have worked tireless to make every guest contact AMAZING.

If you can put aside the initial irritation about “less than positive” reviews….and yes it’s ok to feel irritated…. there is some valuable information that can be gained from most of them.

 

Is Tombstone a Tourist Trap?

I’m betting that headline just made you cringe!   Let’s look at the definition of Tourist Trap.

Tourist trap is an establishment, or group of establishments, that has been created or re-purposed with the aim of attracting tourists and their money. Tourist traps will typically provide services, entertainment, food, souvenirs and other products for tourists to purchase.

Well based on that definition . . . Tombstone would be considered a Tourist Trap.   The term “Tourist Trap” conjures all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings.    And without question it isn’t a term of endearment or gives one a warm and fuzzy feeling.Is Tombstone a Tourist Trap?

I’m betting that headline just made you cringe!   Let’s look at the definition of Tourist Trap.

Tourist trap is an establishment, or group of establishments, that has been created or re-purposed with the aim of attracting tourists and their money. Tourist traps will typically provide services, entertainment, food, souvenirs and other products for tourists to purchase.

Well based on that definition . . . Tombstone would be considered a Tourist Trap.   The term “Tourist Trap” conjures all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings.    And without question it isn’t a term of endearment or gives one a warm and fuzzy feeling.

This is a term that unfortunately is how some of our guests have referred and written about when it comes to Tombstone Arizona.  I am sure we’d love to make the term just go away, unfortunately it is out there.   So….what can we do?

We, as a community and as business owners, should examine and be aware of the elements that cause Tombstone Arizona to be “graciously” given the title of being a “tourist trap.”

 

Let’s look at some TripAdvisor Reviews about Tombstone Arizona in general:

“Tourist Trap!”

Dec 14, 2015Reviewed by retdeltee

We just HAVE to bring family, friends and relatives here when they visit us. Not by our wanting too, it’s theirs! Once was enough for us!!! The same “bill of fare” you can get at any theme park. Horses, stage coaches, period costumes, “shoot outs,” souveniers, made in China or Japan, same as sold on the Mohawk Trail or in Lake George, NY, only with Tombstone emblazoned on the them. There IS history there; period buildings of the past. It was more authentic when it was a dirt thoroughfare but the retailers were more concerned about dust on their wares than authenticity. You can shoot gallery guns, ride a rubber wheeled trolley or ride a stage coach, get your picture taken in old west gear, see a revue. Just “outside of town” is Boot Hill cemetery. You can read the cheesy inscriptions on the “grave stones” and wooden crosses and believe what you wish. Entry is through the gift shop, like any proper burial ground. A lot of people like the “OK Corral Shoot Out.” Lots of hollerin,’ “shootin,’ smoke and dyin.’ Go if you must and bring home one of those sun parched, skeleton cattle heads!

 

“Complete Disappointment”

Nov 22, 2015Reviewed by Sandy B

I first began visiting Tombstone as a child in the late 1970’s. It was simply a “true” old western town. Over the years it began changing. Early 90’s was different but worthwhile. Today it is overly commercialized and definitely leans toward a theme park vibe. Very few native residents remain here. Each person you talk with explains political in fighting is the main problem with the town today. Whatever the reasons maybe, the current residents have ruined the town. The movies “Tombstone” and “Wyatt Earp” didn’t help but harm. Rather than focusing on the real Earps’, Clantons and Doc, the shops and bars have up pics of Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. I suppose it’s more about the almighty dollar than true history. I expected disappointment before arrival. However, this visit was heart breaking. I will never be back. Maybe had I never been there before it would have been a different experience. However, I’ve been so many times with each visit witnessing the town being turned into somewhere I no longer recognized. Very sad.

 

“Bizzare – Should be called the town that wouldn’t smile!”

Oct 28, 2015Reviewed by Danell B

My son and I made a day trip to Tombstone and Bisbee because we both love history. Tombstone was definitely a disappointment – the town is mostly a tourist trap. Many of the things you see are re-creations and not original. I think everything except the gift shops has an admission charge, and the admission charges are fairly high. On Allen Street, many of the shops we walked by had people trying to “sell” you on their attraction, so, walking up and down the street was more like being hassled than pleasant. If we stopped to read a historical marker, look at a building or take a picture then someone was there trying to convince us to visit their attraction. But, even for all of the “selling” that was going on, the people weren’t very friendly – none of the usual “how’s it going?” or “where are you from?” Instead, just sales pitches. Most places we went into didn’t even give a greeting/hello. We came here on short notice so I didn’t have time to research the attractions online. Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center to get information. I especially wanted to know what time the gunfights were so we wouldn’t miss them. (I’ve been to other “old west” towns and they had free gunfights occurring in the street a few times a day) I guess I made the mistake of asking a tourist question (“Is there a charge for the gunfights?) at the tourist center and the employee snapped at me saying “this is a tourist town, of course there is a charge!” At first I thought it was that the person was playing the character of “crusty old west person” so I laughed at the abrupt answer. Turns out they weren’t playing a character and my laugh only made the person angrier. When they started lecturing about their employment status we left. I have visited many historical sites, tourist traps, etc. over the years. Tombstone has to be one of the most bizarre (in terms of behavior) that I have been to. The “bizzaro” effect of the town has made it very memorable, made for some great stories and my son and I still laugh about it!

 

“Unbelievably dumb business owners”

Oct 14, 2015Reviewed by Kjgibson

I give it one star, to possibly get the attention of any business owners who care. This is a tourist town, right? I mean, the only thing that keeps this place on the map is tourists coming to see a piece of history or what Hollywood told them the history is. The saloons and bars are the driving force, aside from the cheesy OK corral re enactment. So why on earth would all the shops close at 5? That is when everyone is walking into town for dinner and drinks. I could not believe that a place desperate for tourist $ would basically close up at 5pm when everyone is going to eat. We wanted to grab dinner and browse/shop the stores but nearly everything except bars had closed up. A true ghost town. Kind of sad. Grow some business sense and stay open till at least 7! Imagine the cash tourists would dump after downing a few drinks! What do I know. .. Just my 2 cents, which is more than any of those gift shops make when their doors are closed.

 

“Tombstone Tourist Trap”

May 25, 2015Reviewed by Leon G

If you want to dress up in the style of the “Old West”, then this is the place for you. Otherwise, avoid this tourist trap like the proverbial plague. Shops filled with junk made overseas and restaurants overflowing with patrons who do not mind paying exorbitant prices for less than mediocre food. The streets are filled with smokers and they do not care if children are next to them. Not worth the visit. Take a look a Boot Hill and then leave.

 

Now…please know that Tombstone Arizona also has received A LOT of 5 star reviews.   And we also ALL know you cannot make everyone happy.  We also know in this age of technology – online reviews are used by potential visitors and will influence their decision to make a visit.

 

Thinking Out of the Box

Let’s pick some repetitive issues from these few TripAdvisor Reviews and see if there are possible solutions:

  • Focus memorabilia and goods in the store on the “REAL” Tombstone Historical figures (The Earps (all of them), Doc Holliday, and the Clantons) instead of the “Hollywood” version and characters.   In other words – Wyatt Earps picture should be Wyatt Earp not Kurt Russell (or whoever else played Wyatt Earp).
  • Buy American Products if possible.   Repeated comments reflect about “cheap” goods from China.
  • When guests ears are present . . . no political Tombstone Town Talk.
  • Are the admission fees consistent with industry standards?  
  • Do the admission Fees equal enough in return?
  • Would you pay that admission fee to get into your own attraction?
  • Does your attraction offer family rates?  Or some family price break?
  • “The Town that Wouldn’t Smile”……This is Customer Service 101.   Treat and respond to the customer in a way that would want them to come back and visit.  From the guys/girls on the street to the Visitor Center to the person behind the counter at the Mercantile ….SMILE….BE FRIENDLY….MAKE THE GUEST FEEL AT HOME.  
  • Closing at 5:00 p.m.   This has been a repeated comment from guests.  
  • AND ……WHAT IS YOUR #10?

 

Is Tombstone a Tourist Trap?   Yes….  

Tombstone Arizona is a First Class 100% Big Hearted Historically Authentic…full of loving and dedicated volunteers and community members Tourist Trap.

 

As you read through Trip Advisor comments about Tombstone Arizona and/or your own business – think out of the box of how could Tombstone Arizona make the guest experience just a little bit better, just a little bit more authentic…just a little bit more AMAZING.

 

A Reminder for the KVOA Channel 4 “Fan of the Day” Advertising Opportunity

Deadline for the First “Fan of the Day” Tombstone Gift Package:  Please have your products/Gift Certificate to Shirley at the Chamber Office by noon on Friday, February 19, 2016

You can also signup to be a “Fan of the Day” 

http://kvoa.upickem.net/engine/YourSubmission.aspx?contestid=95403

 

Events On the Horizon…..

Tombstone Quilt Show

January 29-February 29, 2016

www.facebook.com/TombstoneQuiltShow

 

Vigilante Days

February 13, 14, & 15, 2016

www.facebook.com/VigilanteDays

 

Tombstone at Twilight

Saturday, February 27

5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

www.facebook.com/tombstoneattwilight

 

Tombstone Courthouse Events

Checkout the Event Schedule at:

www.tombstonechamber.com

They are listed on the sidebar

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