Monday, July 17, 2006

ROCI #6: Fans Who Buy Tickets Own The Show (Logan City Fireworks)

Those are powerful memories. I wrote about them more than I had planned, so this Rule Of Customer Interaction is a separate post.

This will be a special ROCI, as I’ll be emailing a copy of the post to Logan Utah’s Mayor, Randy Watts. If there’s something you’d like to tell Mayor Watts, his contact page is here. Mayor Watts, if there's something you'd like to say here, I'll be happy to post anything you send me, good or bad. My contact information is available elsewhere on this blog, and you also have my information in my email to you. I sincerely hope that you find time to talk to us.

The Logan fireworks shows written about in the previous post were formative for me, and they still hold a special place in my heart. But as sad as I am to say it, I think I’ll only attend one more year before giving up on Logan.

A lot has changed about the show in the last several years. Some of the changes are good:
  • The stadium’s been remodeled, and there’s a new ticket booth.
  • Security personnel now check every bag and cooler entering the stadium for alcohol, glass and weapons. The show in 2002 was a very paranoid affair, but paranoid was popular at the time, so it’s forgivable.
  • Logan City cops now direct traffic out of the parking lots. They fell down a little this year, but the last few years have been a much smoother experience where getting out of Logan is concerned.
But there are also bad changes:
  • The gate opening times keep getting moved back, forcing people to stand in line longer. I should be able to walk in with a purchased ticket at 5:00 PM and save seats for my family. This year the gates opened at 7:30.
  • They don’t open the ticket office until 30 minutes prior to the gates opening. What’s the deal? I can’t give you money until the line I’ve been standing in for two hours is a half mile long? Why?

These are small complaints. What I really want to talk about here is the show itself. The show is killing my experience, and I want to talk about it in an open forum (such as this one), and create an opportunity for Mayor Watts and anyone else of his choosing to talk about why things are the way they are, and possibly see things get better.

So let's get right to it.

First, nobody sounds good in a stadium, guys. The only person who sounds like he should in your pre-fireworks programs is the announcer (Craig Hislop?), and even he doesn’t sound good, he just sounds like you expect a football announcer will sound.

This year you had Imagine, a Beatles cover band perform. I saw Imagine at the Dee Events Center at Weber State University a few years back, and they killed. They really looked and spoke like the Beatles, and the music sounded just like my Dad’s Beatles LPs (and my MP3s). They were great.

But in your stadium, they sounded like crap. And when the utterly forgetable band you brought in last year couldn’t carry a tune to save their lives, of course the stadium acoustics didn’t do them any favors.

Simply put, your shows for the last six years or so have been agonizing, and there’s a very simple way you can make it better. Please, please, I beg of you, turn the damned volume down. One quarter to one half of the volume you’ve been using would be acceptable, if not ideal. I would be able to hear my family. I would be able to talk to my kids. I would still be able to hear the band, and the announcer, and Miss Cache Valley loud and clear.

And most importantly, I’d have the choice of putting in my ear phones and listening to an audio book instead of the terrible band, or the good band that sounds terrible in your stadium, or the kids who’ve written fawning pieces about the beauty of democracy that brims with clich├ęs and non-sequiturs.

Please don’t misunderstand me; democracy is great, kids are great too, and even a band that sucks needs to eat. But I paid cash to get into that stadium to see fireworks, and I don’t want to lose my hearing over it, and I do deserve to have the choice of what to listen to.

But short of wearing can-style hearing protection with earphones underneath the cans, there's no way I can listen to the medium of my choice instead of your PA system. And it just shouldn't be this way. I should be able to enjoy the show even without 85% hearing loss.

Next, let’s talk about your tradition of honoring those who have served in the military. This is a good tradition, and those who have served deserve recognition. I voluntarily served in the Air Force, and nearly died there. I have strong feelings of sacrifice, loss, and pride associated with the experience.

I appreciate being honored for this, as I’m sure many others do. So why did you wait until dark this year, to play the songs of our military branches, when we couldn’t see the people we were honoring? Did someone lose the almanac?

And you goofed again, perhaps even worse when the fireworks were finally underway. First, “Anchors Aweigh,” the Navy’s song played to fireworks. Then, “The Marine Corps’ Hymn” played to fireworks. Then, “The Army Goes Rolling Along” was played to fireworks. And then, instead of playing “The U.S. Air Force Song” (more commonly and incorrectly called “Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder”) you played “Stars And Stripes Forever!”

Who overlooked the fact that the Air Force will be far better represented in numbers at any given show in Utah than any other military branch? Who decided that no one would notice, and if they did notice, they wouldn’t care?

You honored me in the dark and then neglected to play the song of my military branch alongside the other military songs with fireworks. I'd rather you just skipped the whole military lineup, rather than doing this.

I love the Logan fireworks show. The Fourth of July and my birthday nearly coincide every year, and each year, I drive my family up from Layton and make an event of the entire day of the show. I spend money at Willow Park, at local restaurants, local gas stations, local grocery stores, at Logan Lanes, and then I pay to get into USU Stadium.

But I could just as easily spend that money in Provo, and begin a new tradition of taking my family to the Stadium of Fire.

I’d rather not. I like Logan, even if the much-touted Fireworks West shows are decidedly not what they used to be, and even if Main Street is busier every year, and even if it takes a little longer to get home every year. I don’t know of another place in the world quite like Willow Park. The LDS Tabernacle downtown is an amazing piece of art history in its own right. And I’ve never been as fond of a campus as I am of USU’s, nearly in the mouth of Logan Canyon.

I really want to keep coming back to Logan. Please fix my fireworks show so that I can do so.

Rule Of Customer Interaction #6:
  • Running a public show for profit is all about selling an experience, and the old saw that one person talking represents a multitude of other silent people is never truer.
  • But sports fans get their own entire section in the newspaper, so when ticket sales take a dive, Larry H. Miller has a pretty good idea where the problem is.
  • If you're in a special market, such as a seasonal one, or one that doesn't get much customer feedback, it's important to listen to the feedback you get and act quickly. Damage control in this situation is inherently reactive, and will always be too late for many who gave up because they didn't know who to contact, how to contact them, or what to say.
  • The legalese on the back will never say so, but a customer's ticket is a tiny piece of vested ownership in your event. Show them that you care, or they'll buy stock in someone else's endeavor.


Jake said...

I'm well aware that there are things in this post that others won't give a darn about.

If you've never served in the military, or you like music that sounds like it's been created inside a washing machine drum, for instance, then I understand and it's no big deal.

But I write about things that are a big deal to me, so there you go.

Besides, my theory that if you don't sound crazy once in a while, you're nobody, seems to bear out when you consider the existence of guys like John Dvorak and...well, lots of other folks.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the volume. When the bass punches you in the solar plexus so hard that it is hard to breathe, and the pain level in your ears feels like they are going to explode, yet you still can't hear the words to the vocals, you have an idiot running the sound board. It's not just that everyone sounds bad in a stadium. That's a cop out. I have been at concerts in stadiums where the band sounded reasonably good. But never at USU during a fireworks show. I gave up several years ago and just watch from the lawn at Aggie Village. It's less painful and it's free. And Logan Parks & Rec wonders why more people won't pay to get in.. (Paying pay big bucks for really crappy out of state talent doesn't help, either.)