Canucks champs at smiling

On my recent trip to Geneva, I experienced first hand the importance of being a welcoming nation to tourists.

We were at the Geneva International Motor Show displaying the world’s first flying car. Geneva, around the time of the Motor Show, is not an inexpensive place to visit with hotel prices up around $1,300 per night.

Thankfully, we found a small French chateau about 30 minutes outside Geneva at a good value. 

With the company having unloaded a sizeable amount of cash in to the Geneva economy to be part of the Motor show, one would assume that hospitality would be important.

It turns out that Geneva may not have too many smile schools. The tourism sector usually prides itself on the quality of the reception they give tourists, but based on my experience, we were not terribly welcome.

The first challenge (which almost any city has with a big exhibition centre) was that traffic was a nightmare. On my first evening, almost four hours to do 12 kilometres was just a little excessive, yet this was normal for Geneva.

As you know, I like driving, but this was more dynamic parking than driving. Why a major trade show complex was built and integrated into airport traffic with single lane road access is beyond me because getting into and out of the arena complex involved similar amounts of time.

Parking once you arrived was also complex. On the first day after being delayed in significant traffic again, we had to pay at a booth before we walked to a bus to get to the show. I showed my exhibitor pass, but was asked to cough up money for parking regardless; no included parking for exhibitors.

I had no choice, so I paid, the teller smiled at me and the person behind me started their transaction. Surprised that I had no ticket or receipt, I left anyway. That day, we had a party on the stand and left close to midnight. 

We hailed a taxi who asked for the address. Car Park number 78 I replied. In French only, the cab driver told us to get out of his cab if we did not know an address. Again we said Car Park #78 at the site here. No go.

“Get out of my cab,” was his rude response in French. We persisted and gave him instructions to get to our car park and he very reluctantly drove us two kilometres for a 30-franc fare — then complained. 

At least we made it to the car park. I noticed they had security still, so we could at least get out and we were the last car in the lot.

Well, we thought we could. It turns out you cannot get out without a ticket, whichI had paid for earlier. We explained our predicament to which, again, we rudely received the reply, no ticket no exit.

By this time we were frustrated as well as tired, but as much as we explained we had paid earlier, we were deemed to be criminals who were trying to cheat. Another 25 euros later, we were on our way.

The next day proved to be a repeat of the first except with U.S. clients accompanying us. The car park situation became worse, our clients were treated rudely and the taxi driver almost physically threw us out of the taxi.

It made me remember that in Canada we know how to look after tourists.

Whether it is our ski hills, golf courses or restaurants, we receive accolades for being a welcoming country.

I cannot wait to take my wife back to the delightful French chateau we stayed in, but one thing for sure, I will not step inside the Swiss border after the experience I had.

We’ll save Geneva for another life. 

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories