Tribeca (Film Festival) April 20 - May 1, 2011

Asking Questions - How to get a really useful response.

New Yorkers love visitors but we are a busy bunch. Many of us, especially when we are busy, will answer your first question and then say “Have a nice day”. In order to get better information, the first thing you need to realize is, no one can read your mind (you will find links to astrology blogs above but my crystal ball is always out to lunch).  New York City isn’t about us, it is all about you and New Yorkers are very interested in knowing where you want to go and what you want to do. 

So, to get a useful answer, you need to be a little bit selfish.  Start any question with the words “I” or “we” “want” “are trying to” “have to” go somewhere or be somewhere and if there is a time concern say so and then ask whatever question you wanted to ask in the first place. Now, the listener knows what is on your mind and can tell you where (or how) to go.  You will also probably get a New Yorker’s opinion while you actually have a conversation.

This advice applies whether you are already here or you are planning your trip and asking questions at NYC travel message forums.  I used to frequent the one on AOL but AOL destroyed its travel boards. A bunch of us have maintained contact. 

Today there are many web NYC Travel message boards.  Tripadvisor, I think, has the busiest one. I often volunteer my 2 cents there. I stop by Fodor’s and Frommer’s as well. I am sure there are others.

Why is this advice important. Here is one of many examples.

Scanned Image 100720000  A few years ago, I was in the Staten Island Ferry terminal (think far right in the picture although the picture is copyright 1911 - things look different now) talking to my group of ElderHostelers (now called Exploritas). Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said “Where do I pay for this?” (note: "I" was the 3rd word here.) I said, “ you don’t - it’s free - Have a nice day!”  I went back to talking to my group. We arrived at Staten Island. As we were walking through the terminal, the same person came up to me and said, “How come I’m not at the Statue of Liberty?” And, I had to say, “because you didn’t ask that question half an hour ago”.

There are many more examples and I’ll talk more about questions in later posts. In the meantime, “have a nice day”.  

The Staten Island Museum has recently published a book called, “The Staten Island Ferry - A History”. You can buy it from the SI Museum store.


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