I happened into a small retail store near my home the other day, a place called Tickets, Sports Collectibles & More. They offer tickets to area events, sports collectibles like baseball cards as well as stuff to wear. I was specifically looking for a baseball cap for my four year old to wear to camp. A Chicago Cubs baseball cap because his Red Sox loving dad had bought him a Red Sox cap and that wouldn’t do.
We quickly found the cap and proceeded to pay. After swiping my card, it was apparent that the Credit Card machine was having a meltdown caused by Comcast and would not be working. Like any American of the 21st century, I don’t carry cash so the stores proprietor was attempting to call in the card for approval. I felt his pain, and after 15 minutes he was starting to see my pain written on my face as my little guy was starting to climb the walls in a store that was “boring to him”.
As he attempted to give his card processing company information (all of which seemed wrong), he took note of what was happening and reached up onto the shelf and pulled out about 50 assorted sports cards (hockey, baseball) and called my son over. He asked if he would like to see something cool and proceeded to give him the cards.
I picked up on the gesture and started to demonstrate how they could be looked at and even better, flicked through the air. This lead to few minutes of fun and laughter as the transaction was finally wound down.
What was the end result? The end result was that I got the baseball cap, my kid had a few minutes of fun in what was quickly going downhill and the merchant got a sale and a happy customer that is now talking about him.
The same can happen when registration lines back up, food lines are long or some other mishap slows down the process of the attendees getting what they want or need. How they react is totally up to the staff working the event. You can have staff that “just does the job” as the attendees start to simmer, boil and blow or you can have staff that engage, entertain and get the attendees through the experience with a little humor and fun.
What will you get in return? Attendees that are happy and may not even realize that they were waiting, attendees that will talk about the positive experience they had and attendees that will say “we were waiting, but it was not too long”.
The alternative is far worse.