Community Hospitality Perception Index (CHPI)
Introduction to the CHPI
Cities, communities, regions, and states all compete against each other for business employment and the visitor’s dollars. Just like any decision, businesses and visitors make rational choices where to go, when to return, how much money to spend, and for entrepreneurs, whether to relocate or expand their businesses. It has been proven time and time again that by good planning and responsible public leadership some communities outperform others. The CHPI was originally developed in the mid-1990s by Professor Galbraith to educate business and economics students how to obtain a sustainable advantage in the highly competitive arena of economic development and tourism. It has been progressively refined since its inception, and now represents a powerful measure as to how well local communities are positioning themselves for economic development.
Orientation of the CHPI
The Community Hospitality Perception Index (CHPI) measures a community’s attractiveness or hospitality from the visitor’s perspective. The visitor, tourist and vacationer have a lot of choices where to spend their money, and there are many choices. In today’s world, communities simply can not make mistakes. There is plenty of research to suggest that visitors are like any shopper – they want a safe, uncluttered, attractive environment. Communities are a little like grocery stores or restaurants, with a lot of choices. But like a grocery store or restaurant, nobody wants to shop in a dirty, cluttered, unorganized, smelly, unattractive establishment with ignorant or rude employees. The shopper will simply look elsewhere. It is exactly the same when communities try to attract visitors or businesses. And it is all based on perceptions and first impressions.
THE CHPI was developed from a variety of sources, including other published economic development indices, the personal experiences of Professor Galbraith on various planning and industrial development commissions, various focus groups involving tourists and business leaders, and from academic research regarding the reasons why business choice to locate in certain communities and not others. To this extent, the CHPI is a leading indicator of future economic success, and has been shown to be correlated with visitor satisfaction measures, economic growth, and business vacancy rates.
In addition, almost all research has shown that the major reason why businesses relocate to a particular community is based upon the business owner’s perception of community attractiveness and ambiance. 21st century firms, such as high technology and corporate headquarters almost never locate in sloppy, cluttered looking communities.
Grading of the CHPI
The CHPI is similar to the grading of restaurants; points are deducted from an initial 100 points. Up to 10 bonus points can be added.
90 to 100 = high hospitality,
80-90 acceptable hospitality;
70-80 barely passing, may indicate future problems,
Below 70, anti-hospitality, indication of serious problems and poor local governmental planning – will ultimately turn people away and discourage business locations.
Based on research, the CHPI incorporates over 30 separate measurements (to minimize scoring bias, typical a numerical or percentage count within a specified region, such as along a random sample of a series of ˝ mile stretches of road) along six broad categories. Most, although not all, of the measures are directly under the control of the local elected government and planning boards. The six categories are:
a) Problems with commercial signage/clutter (unsafe signs, blinking and other annoying signs, menu boards, misspellings, broken signs, general proliferation and size, temporary signs, etc.) – 25 point maximum deduction
b) Problems with perceptions of safety and cleanliness (graffiti, trash on roadway, maintenance of buildings, bars or security fences on store fronts, etc.) – 30 point maximum deduction
c) Problems with community personality (do residents respond to questions, how do residents rate the community, do local employees know location of medical, police facilities, and parks, etc.) – 20 point maximum deduction
d) Problems with community planning (road maintenances, available parking, sufficient green/park space, signage to tourist, medical, and safety facilities, overhead utilities) – 20 point maximum deduction
e) Rating of overall ambiance (rating of overall “first-impression” attractiveness of community from a visitors perspective) – 5 point maximum deduction
f) Bonus Points Added (bike paths, other “obvious” advanced planning efforts) – 10 points maximum addition
Much of the perception of a community is based on its commercial and retail areas (this is what the visitor sees first, drives through on their way to a final destination, and ultimately develops their impressions around). The CHPI is appropriate for communities less than 50,000 (with no more than 5 major commercial or retail areas); for communities greater than 50,000 the CHPI can be used to measure identified neighborhoods or sub-communities.