Madison restaurants and hotels literally cater to visitor needs
Hosting the 70,000 or so visitors who flock to the city for World Dairy Expo every fall presents both opportunities and challenges for local businesses in the Madison metropolitan area.
"It’s definitely one of the busiest weeks of the year for us," says Eliot Butler, president of the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company, a popular spot for Expo-goers. "When World Dairy Expo is going on, weekday nights feel like weekend nights."
To accommodate the Expo crowd, the restaurant features several cheeses and other dairy product specials during the week. "Our four-cheese pizza is a big favorite among Expo-goers," Butler says. "Our beer, cheese and brat soup also get rave reviews."
Meeting the unique needs of Expo’s international visitors is the focus of the Madison Concourse Hotel. "World Dairy Expo brings the most guests from different countries at one time," says Joan Herzing, Concourse marketing manager.
Prior to Expo, hotel management surveys its staff to find out who is bilingual or multilingual. "We put those people on call throughout the week so they can come to the front desk if a guest is having difficulty communicating," Herzing says.
Posters with a variety of international symbols—phone, swimming pool, restaurant, taxi, etc.—are also positioned at the front desk. "Guests can just point to one of the symbols to give us an idea of what they want," she adds.
"Our job is to make sure all of the visitors coming into Madison feel welcome and have a wonderful experience," says Diane Morgenthaler, vice-president of marketing for the Greater Madison Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (GMCVB).
A major part of GMCVB’s efforts involve preparing informational packets about what the Madison area has to offer in lodging, dining, entertainment, shopping and more. The packets are available at hotels, local businesses and two GMCVB booths at Expo—on the ground floor of the Coliseum and the north end of the Exhibition Hall.