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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Chronic problems with LA Events both big and small

This morning the family headed off to a fairly small scale event at an independent bookstore in Studio City. Now, I am not the biggest fan of crowds, but I can usually deal OK with smaller groups. That said, when we arrived, the venue was getting pretty full. Parents and kids were sitting on the floor getting ready for the show and the room was beginning to fill up. This is when "IT" happened again. A store staffer came over to the entry to the room and stated "You can't sit in the doorway. You can't sit in the doorway. You have to move." Yet, this staffer had no alternative to sitting in the doorway, except to leave.

Hearing that phrase once would have been OK, but over the course of the next 15 minutes I probably heard it around 10-15 times. Here I was at something that was supposed to be a fun event, but all I was getting out of it was this repetitive (and increasingly desperate) attempt to make people comply with their rules. After about 15 minutes, I had had enough and left my family to enjoy the show while I had a coffee and did some writing nearby.

My main complaint with situations such as this are that is doesn't have to be this way. Events, big and small, happen all over Los Angeles every day, yet it seems that this problem is repeated again and again. This creates problems on many different levels for both the patrons and those hosting the event and yet, I am sure if I were to attend an event here in 2 weeks or 2 years, the same problems would still persist.

Why do the problems occur? Here is my take:

  • Lack of clear directions

    If a venue doesn't want you sitting in the doorway, signs (or other indicators) should be placed there so patrons would not have to be told again and again. Sure, you will still have to make some announcements, but their frequency would be decreased as the majority of people would read the sign and try to comply. Most people will follow the rules if you only let them know what the rules are.

  • Poor room design

    If you know you are going to host events in your store, then design the room to prevent the typical issues. Had they designed this particular room so you couldn't see the performance area from the doorway, the problem would have been eliminated. Plan ahead and don't assume that one room will suffice for every type of event you might hold. Make it flexible. Plan ahead.

  • Too many people

    Every event, from a small book reading to a major concert, has the potential to attract more people than a room or venue can safely hold. This is Los Angeles, we should know this by now. I don't care if you are holding a book signing with Jimmy Carter or an author writing a first book, prepare for the biggest crowd you might get. Have procedures and policies in place which can be implemented when events grow beyond their usual size. Take reservations, if you must, but do something to limit the number of people trying to cram into a particular space. The fact is, no matter the size of a space, people will continue to force their way in until someone tells them to stop. If this isn't human nature, it is, at least, LA nature. Understand this and allow for it.

Now, why should stores and other venues care about this problem. Simply because it costs them money in the long run. Unpleasant experiences stick with customers long after the pleasant one's have faded. Do you want your customers to be reminded of the annoying staff member when they think of your store, or the great time they had there? Do you want them to come back for future events and more shopping or do you want them to think that the last time was too much trouble?

It would seem that with all the events that happen in this city, some care would be taken to make them the most enjoyable experience possible. Instead, throughout the city, we are almost always faced with crowded events, frazzled parents and rude people.

Shopkeepers and event planners of LA, do us all a favor, and yourself as well, plan your events with people in mind...large groups of people...because even the smallest event can attract hundreds of folks who just want to have a good time.

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At 8:43 AM, Blogger Todd said...


How about when you leave an hour early to stake out a good spot or to position handicapped relatives, sit and wait the additional hour, only to have

a. someone shove in and park in front of you 2 minutes before show
b. staff suddenly decide they can't control the crowd, and decide the fire lane you border, and planned to use to provide clear vision, is now available.

arrive late, pretend to be dumb, and push to the front.



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