What I Learned Today: Good Idea Plus No Planning Equals Horrible

Queen and Adam Lambert, Merriweather PostA good idea horribly implemented and with no follow through is worse than no idea at all.

I live about 10 minutes away from Merriweather Post Pavilion, one of the best outdoor concert venues in the country. My wife and I are both fans of Queen and we both like Adam Lambert. When we realized a few weeks ago they were playing Merriweather, we bought tickets.

Fantastic. All set. Excited. We’ve been to a few concerts there, enjoyed ourselves. Loved the experience. I’m looking forward to hearing Fat Bottom Girls.

Received a pre-event email on Saturday, register on our Facebook page for our Gatecrashers event. Get in at 5:30. Get a good lawn seat. Have a little food and adult beverage before the doors open to everyone at 6:30. The only instructions were go to the South Entrance.

Sweet. Great idea. We’re not doing anything. Have a little food, get in a little early. Get a good parking spot. Relax. Right?

Wrong.

It seems that for a venue that puts on major acts throughout the summer has no social media plan and not very good event management or marketing skills.

We get there and there’s a line, but no one knows if this is the line for 6:30 entrance or for the Gatecrashers (it’s Queen, people wanted good seats so they lined up early). I stayed in line while my wife went to the gate. She calls — come up, the Gatecrasher line is to the left. This is about 5:30, when the gates should open for use “Gatecrashers.” The Facebook page is semi-active with some happy people about to get in early, get happy, and see Queen.

Then it went bad wrong.

The line stopped moving. At 5:40.

We looped around to the front. After milling around with a group of other pissed off Gatecrashers, ONE of about 5 staff milling around talked to us. Stay here, we’ll figure this out. Don’t think she ever came back.

In short, the response was more than they could handle and Gatecrasher entrance was cut off about 15 minutes into the hour. Immediately, a couple of hundred happy fans became a couple of hundred unhappy fans.

A few lessons learned for me:

  1. Plan properly (yeah, duh, I know): If you have a venue with limited area that X number of bodies can fit into; figure out what that limit is and then CUT OFF YOUR INVITE/only offer to the first X number of people.
  2. Directions: For events, it’s called signage. Tell people where they need to go and give them obvious pointers to get there. Anyone from Merriweather reads this, they’re called “signs.”
  3. Staff: Make sure they know what they’re doing. There was no direction or crowd control. Staff that were there were as useful as tits on a boar.
  4. Communicate: Whoever runs Merriweather’s social account needs some serious schooling in how to run a social media account. They disappeared.  Wanna be Gatecrashers, like myself, were pissed off and not shy about it. If someone had just come out and said, “Sorry, we were overwhelmed with demand. Stay here and we’ll let you in at 6:30,” we would’ve been annoyed, but OK. Just a quick note on the Facebook page, “Hey, we screwed up. We didn’t think this many of you were that bored on a Sunday” would’ve been enough for most people to go, “Oh, alright. We’ll just get in at 6:30 with everyone else.” Open mouth; speak. Open keyboard, type. Do. Something.
  5. Face the music: I rarely stay pissed for this long, but it’s been over 24 hours and I’m still aggravated. Just say you messed up, damn! And when you have people saying that they’re not coming back again, and will tell everyone they know the same thing . . . I ain’t a genius, but that’s not good. Hell, a quick note on the page today, “sorry,” would’ve been good. Instead, crickets. I mean, when you have someone with diabetes complaining that, if not for a piece of fruit from strangers, they may have needed an ambulance and no one from the venue can just say, “Whoops”? Sheesh. (OK, yeah, maybe they could’ve brought a piece of candy, but they DID expect to be able to get in early.)

Unlike others, the proximity and the acts will keep me going back to Merriweather, but I’m sure they’ve lost some customers for life now.

As for Queen with Adam Lambert – AWESOME (including Fat Bottom Girls).

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bryantduhon

Editor. Dad. Husband. Content marketer and strategist. Serial procrastinator. Pizza eater. Beer drinker. Not always in that order.

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