Is there a Great Place in your community?

January 4, 2022

Hospitality businesses can earn designation with South Dakota Tourism

Customer service is a hallmark of successful businesses in the hospitality industry.

It’s also extremely important to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

With its program South Dakota Great Place, the department is putting a spotlight on businesses around the state that exemplify great service.

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About the Program

South Dakota Great Place is a designation program for businesses that are constantly innovating to make their guests feel comfortable and welcomed, and their communities vibrant.

Designees are recognized for consistently putting people first, continuously go above and beyond, and help strangers at every opportunity.

SD Tourism announced 27 businesses across the state for 2021 and 48 designees in 2020. Among the recipients are events and cultural centers, museums, parks, hotels and lodging facilities, and other tourist attractions.

The Great Place program is designed to strengthen the tourism industry in South Dakota and offer support to tourism industry members. It replaces the Great Service Star program, which operated from 2015-2020.

How to Apply

All eligible businesses in South Dakota are encouraged to participate. To earn a designation, businesses must first apply online at

Applications are accepted from February through October of each calendar year, and recognition is given for the year in which you apply. Applications must include:

  • Evidence of excellent customer service, including:
    • Comment cards and/or online comments.
    • Implements an employee recognition program. The Department of Tourism’s South Dakota Great Face program is a sufficient program.
    • Participation in a hospitality training program. The Department of Tourism’s Online Hospitality Training program is a sufficient program for this training.
  • Examples of updates made designed to enhance the customer experience. This can include painting, welcome gifts, new bedding in rooms, flowers designed to welcome visitors, etc.
  • Information about the business’ involvement in the local tourism industry and community (memberships or involvement in local DMO, CVB, and/or chamber of commerce, volunteer work, etc.).

South Dakota Great Place designees will receive:

  • A letter from the Secretary of the Department of Tourism.
  • A certificate to proudly display.
  • A window cling for display in the front entrance, which indicates that the business is an official South Dakota Great Place.
  • Access to the South Dakota Great Place logo for use in all marketing materials.

Businesses that demonstrate the highest levels of service and hospitality will be considered for the George S. Mickelson Award, given annually at the SOuth Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism. To be eligible for consideration, businesses must first have requested and received the South Dakota Great Place designation.

For more information, contact Bailey Carlsen, Industry Training, Special Events, and Legislative Relations Manager, for more information at 605-773-3301 or

Training available

SD Tourism also offers a free Online Hospitality Training program. All tourism industry businesses are encouraged to share the training with their staff.

More information can be found on the training program and all of the department’s hospitality programs at

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.