Some of you may know I was employed at a venue before coming to work at IAVM Headquarters. I worked at the Dallas Museum of Art as the Senior Marketing Manager for almost 12 years.
The museum and its small staff hosted up to a million visitors in a year, and presented exhibitions like King Tut, Van Gogh and Matisse. Then mix in large outdoor concerts drawing up to 30,000 concert-goers; weekly indoor jazz and monthly Late Nights, which drew from 3,000 up to 15,000 guests to the Museum. While these numbers pale in comparison to a stadium during a single game, for a museum with expertise in watching people watch art – these events presented many “all hands on deck” situations with most of us becoming guest services, venue safety and operations team members.
One of my favorite pieces of advice came from the then Museum’s Director, Bonnie Pitman, during the first Late Night when the museum stayed open for 100 consecutive hours to celebrate its centennial. As all of us pitched in, working to welcome the crowd cueing up in lines stretching the entire length of the museum, Bonnie shared her now famous line: “Be a duck.”
“Be a duck” describes the perfect guest service manager. Like a duck that seemingly floats effortlessly across a lake, while under the water the duck paddles furiously propelling itself forward – above, there is little apparent to divulge the efforts occurring beneath the surface. Continue Reading →
Senses have contributed to humanity’s survival over thousands of years. Our eyes and ears, for example, help us navigate within a chaotic world, guiding us around dangerous spots or noticing friendly faces in a crowd. Smelling is another sense that you probably don’t pay much attention to, at least until something overtly stinks or pleases. Scents can be subtle, and marketing people constantly use them to steer you toward a goal.
Consider something the St. Louis Rams did at the Edward Jones Dome. They pumped the smell of cotton candy through the dome’s HVAC system.
“As expected, cotton candy sales have gone up year over year so far,” reported Lucas Dillow for the National Sports Forum. “But the interesting part is they have seen healthy growth in overall concession sales across the board. The cotton candy scent triggers a response to buy food and drinks in general, on top of just cotton candy.”
It shouldn’t surprise you that the Rams are very happy with the results.
Perhaps, though, a cotton candy scent may be too sweet.
In a 2012 study, researchers from Washington State University and Switzerland discovered that a simple scent is more effective in influencing sales. The researchers exposed shoppers to simple and complex scents (orange scent and orange-basil blended with green tea, respectively). Sales increased when the simple one was in the air. The reason is because it’s more easily processed, freeing the customer’s mind to focus on shopping, the researchers say. In a separate study, the researchers showed that students completed word problems more quickly when simple scents were in the air than when complicated or no scents were in the air.
“Most people are processing it at an unconscious level, but it is impacting them,” said Eric Spangenberg, dean of the Washington State University College of Business and one of the researchers. “The important thing from the retailers perspective and the marketers perspective is that a pleasant scent isn’t necessarily an effective scent.”
Pleasant scents, though, can be effective on one front: morality.
Two vehicle sports accidents recently took place that reinforces the importance of safety and crowd management.
One accident happened at the Houston Grix Prix. Dario Franchitti’s IndyCar went airborne and crashed into a fence. Along with Franchitti, 13 fans and a race official were injured from debris flying into the grandstand.
Another accident happened during the Extreme Aeroshow in Chihuahua, Mexico. A monster truck driver lost control of his vehicle and drove through a crowd of spectators. Nine people died, and 75 were hurt.
“Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte Juarez said his administration, which was listed as a sponsor of the air show, was investigating whether Civil Protection authorities had correctly enforced safety regulations,” Ashley Collman and Helen Collis reported for the Associated Press. “He and other officials didn’t say if those regulations required any protective barrier for spectators.”
Event organizers say that hundreds of spectators were gathered in the pit area without permission.
“Veteran monster truck show organizers said spectators should never have been standing that close to the arena floor unprotected, regardless of the trajectory of the truck,” Collman and Collis reported. “They said properly organized shows take place in an arena with a safety zone separating spectators from the trucks, which the Chihuahua city show lacked.”
These two incidents are examples of what can and will happen at motorsport events, says Harold Hansen, CFE, director of life safety and security for IAVM.
“As venue managers, we must exercise a standard of care that will keep patrons and spectators out of harm’s way,” he said. “Establishing a safety zone between the track and spectators is essential; effective shielding of patrons from flying debris is another.”
Hansen says safety and crowd management planning must ask a lot of ‘What if this happens?’ questions and then implement protections that address the threats and hazards identified.
“Never be lulled into believing ‘It won’t happen here’,” he says. “It can and might!”
A good way to stay prepared and to learn skills that may save lives is to attend the 2013 International Crowd Management Conference at the Plaza Marriott in San Antonio, Texas, November 10-13. Session topics include “Incident Management for Venue Operations in a Crisis,” “Enabling Your Staff to Handle Problematic Behavior,” and “Pyrotechnics: Patron Safety, Technical Expertise, and Considerations of Use.” The conference is a great opportunity for you to enhance your security and safety knowledge and to learn from experienced industry colleagues.
(Image via Flickr: CEPx09/Creative Commons)
Score one for the comic geeks.
The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously in approval last Thursday to expand the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, helping move the $520 million project forward.
“Comic-Con leaders said the expansion is vital to keep the summer pop-culture extravaganza from having to leave San Diego in search of a larger venue,” reported Tony Perry for the Los Angeles Times. “But the Chargers had opposed the expansion, putting forth an alternative plan for a joint stadium-convention center expansion several blocks from the current center. For a decade, the team has warned that economic pressures could force it to leave San Diego unless it gets a stadium to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.”
The expansion will include an additional 225,000 of exhibit space—creating the West Coast’s largest contiguous exhibit hall—an 80,000-square-foot ballroom, a five-acre rooftop park, and a 500-room addition to the Hilton hotel.
“Key supporters of the expansion plan vowed to help the Chargers develop a stadium project for taxpayers’ approval,” Perry reported. “Acting Mayor Todd Gloria promised to immediately begin working to fashion such a project, preferably on the eastern edge of downtown near the Chargers’ preferred site.”
Even though the expansion is approved, its financing (most of it coming from hotel surcharges on rooms) is under appeal and will be resolved in the upcoming months.
“Today’s approval is the result of a strong five-year collaboration between SDCCC, the City of San Diego, the Port of San Diego, hotel developers, and the community,” said Phil Blair, board chair of the San Diego California Coastal Commission Board of Directors. “This is a win for all San Diegans and will ensure we remain a top meeting and convention destination.”
(Image via Flickr: Port of San Diego/Creative Commons)
I love technology. I enjoy trying out new gadgets, playing with innovative systems, and experimenting with fun programs. But none of it would be worth it if I couldn’t share my excitement with others. You see, it’s not the technology that makes me happy. It’s people. Technology is just a tool to foster a connection with others.
Consider a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy and Lund University in Sweden that suggests relationships, not things, make us happy. Researchers analyzed news articles published online by Swedish papers during 2010. They looked at which words most often occurred in the same articles as the Swedish word for happiness. Out of more than 1.5 million examples, words such as “grandmother” and personal pronouns more often appeared with the word for happiness. Other words, such as “iPhone” and “Google” rarely appeared next to the word for happiness.
“This doesn’t mean that material things make you unhappy, just that they don’t seem to come up in the same context as the word for happiness,” says Danilo Garcia, researcher in psychology at the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health.
The researchers feel that the analysis shows a collective perception in society on what makes us happy. This is important to remember as venue managers, because you’re bringing people together to share a (hopefully) happy experience.
“Just as the Beatles sang, most people understand that money can’t buy you happiness or love,” Danilo Garcia said. “But even if we as individuals can understand the importance of close and warm relationships on a social level, it isn’t certain that everyone is aware that such relationships are actually necessary for our own personal happiness.”
And now you know.
(Image via Orange Photography)