A reputation for incivility about to change

June 13, 2015

A reputation for incivility about to change

I was intrigued to see this article about France’s multimillion-euro tourist investment in making the country more welcoming or having a more “civil reputation.” France realized that in order to increase tourism to the country and insure that more jobs are available, they’d have to insure that visitors left feeling treated well. Several studies show that visitors are less than impressed with the country’s service reputation and satisfaction ratings were 30 per cent below the European average in terms of price-quality ratio. As the article says, “The TripAdvisor website found foreigners voted Paris the rudest city in Europe, while other researchers have reported that visitors thought it had the least friendly locals, the most unpleasant taxi drivers and the most aggressive waiters.”

Even when a politeness manual for service workers and smile ambassadors were instituted a few years ago, France’s uncivil reputation was not curbed. The French foreign ministry is now getting serious and as part of its new civility program being launched this fall, is going to fast track visas and add signs in the airports welcoming visitors.

Ironically, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, was quite miffed when he learned that no French restaurant made it into the top 10 Restaurant Magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. He responded to this indignity by calling it  “a perfidious Anglo-Saxon attempt to bad-mouth its gastronomy.” Now, I would not exactly call that a civil accusation. France has its work cut out for itself.

At Weber Shandwick, we’ve examined the issue of civility in America for years now. We have not extended it to countries around the world but it is starting to sound like that might not be a bad idea.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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