I recently spoke with 3 of our local Chula Vista law enforcement officials that happened to be standing under the same tree as I during their patrol at a recent event. So I asked the officers if they knew what role they play in the hospitality business of this event. Like every good, sharp law enforcement officer, they kinda stared at me for a moment, then quickly became subject matter experts within themselves once they realized that neither of the three knew what the hell I was talking about.
But today, I was the designated driver to a recent event held at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheater in Chula Vista, CA; and tonight I was devoting my selflessness to drive family and friends, so we can all watch the entertainment extravaganza of the heavy metal groups KISS and Motley Crue. Tonight, so they can enjoy the show, I would provide transportation services, but once in the event I quickly realized I was about to receive “total consciousness”. Like in the movie Caddyshack; Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) talks about his confrontation with the Dalai Lama, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”
Allow me to clarify briefly. It wasn’t until I was walking to sit at our “good” seats for the event (to be upgraded during the show), I realized that everything that led up to me sitting down in my seat, from obtaining my beverage, the sights, the smells and the people around me all contributed to my perception of what my level of expectation was to me. You see, I have never been to a KISS, Motley Crew or even attended any event at this venue. I realized that my expectation included difficult parking (it did take a bit of time), but once we found a clearing, I expected the attendant was going to tell us exactly where to park, and how close to the one another . . . come closer . . . closer . . .closer, ok STOP! To my surprise, we veered from the standardized formation of automobiles and just parked where we saw a spot. Just so happened to be really close to our seats. Better yet, the parking attendants didn’t say a word. I’m not quite shure they even saw me.
Once at the ticket gate I expected the usual baggage check of the purses and the now ever popular “patting down”. I saw the purse search, but no copping-of-a-quick-feel TSA style groping or other revealing types of photographs or x-rays being taken. Just a very polite, “enjoy the show”. I did notice that whatever checkpoint I went through, each had checked my ticket thoroughly before allowing my access to that location . . . every time, and I went back and forth allot at this show. Since I was designated driver on a “not triple digit” day (heat), for it was only 99 degrees today, I did drink a ton of water as I was frequently reminded through the repeated ventures to the stalls.
The show was impressive. The stage was probably one of the largest, loudest venues I have ever seen. There was allot of electricity flowing through those panels. Big Stage, Big Sound, Big Hair!. I think the kick off band’s name had something to do with Big Hair as they pounded a very impressive set hard with their own metronomic heads keeping the beat, heavy and hard, and in unison.
First intermission . . . and I have to check out the joint. Cricket is a pretty big place with concessions and plenty of food and beverage stands, including carnival type kettle corn stands and a Hunter Restaurant BBQ tri-Tip sandwich stand. The carnival booths and various concessions were seemingly everywhere on both sides of the stage. You can even walk through to the other side while viewing the show on the promenade separating the lower level seats from the upper level. Again, as I passed through ticket checkpoint areas, my ticket was carefully screened to ensure I had the appropriate credentials. I was even stopped at one point and redirected to the appropriate isle for another ticket/passage processing. But very consistent, every time. They must have threatened everyones’ job on that one.Everytime, they looked carefully to find just the right thing they were looking for on a 8″x11.5″ inch printer paper ticket paper.
So we sit in our seats, the first big hair band begins immediately (but 1.5 hours late) as we sat down. They were really good and very loud, hard-hitting rockers, we were going to have a good time. A group of 50-year-olds (Us) sitting in good seats listening to very loud rock and roll. I gotta take a picture . . . Oh, I left my phone in the car. I tell the friends I’m sitting with I’m going to try to go back to the car, I needed my camera to document this craziness, but I also know that an event like this usually won’t allow you to leave the venue and re-enter, so I need a ploy, . . . an insider working on my behalf. Security guards are good for this, if you can get them on your side.
I quickly find a bulky sized security guy that looks ex-Marine or Navy. He had the hair. I tell him my real situation about me being the DD, needing my phone to document because I write . . . blah, blah, blah. Anyway he says “You need your inhaler”. I say, “got it . . . that’s a good one”. I’m going to have to remember it . . because it worked. At least it’s good for a one-timer. Obviously this guy had hospitality training.
The more I ventured into this event the more I realized what it meant to cater to the hospitality industry. Meeting or exceeding customer’s expectation has got to be hard to do, especially in an event such as this. There were seniors, with their grand kids. Plenty of folks our age, others with or without money, plenty of freaks and those that are perhaps broke drug addicts, and children aged 7 or 8. Everyone at this event had some kind of expectation.
Did the venue meet those expectations. I think they met mine. I was actually very impressed that everything seemed to be better than I expected, even our complimentary seat upgrade. Here’s the deal – We were sitting in our seats and I stand up and turn around and there was the missing two persons from our party, sitting in a box-seat area just behind us. Their seats are better and they are being served beverages from a waiting staff. “I’m moving up there”, I said. We now had our own wait staff and no one to walk between when we wanted to get out of our seats and go to the bathroom or whatever. Don’t ask how we got the seats, . . . I mean, I know, . . . but don’t ask, . . . it’s very complicated. We were never asked to move for the rest of the night. They kept saying to me in broken English, “Yes, Mr. Dick”. They were even kissing our asses like some kind of big shots. Now “THAT’S” hospitality ! ! !
Well the show was actually quite good. Motley Crew’s performance was excellent. Tommy Lee, the drummer, goes through this upside down (yes the drum set too) and doesn’t miss a beat. That was kinda neat, then too, a fan wins a contest and goes upside down with him on stage. Motley Crue had a really good stage show. KISS too was good, but not as good as the Crue. KISS had a super huge high-definition (HD) screen behind them that had excellent clairty and light projection enough to provide added light and special effects to the stage. I need to get one of those. Both shows were very good.
So I think the cops I was earlier talking too got the idea. I explained to them that they were part of the hospitality business by providing a leveled degree of security presence that make attendees feel comfortable with the environment enough so that they can enjoy their show. The cops again looked baffled at what that all meant for the hospitality business ; so I further explained that they were there, in the exact position, . . . every time I came by during each of the bands . . . my sentence was abruptly cut off as the cops quickly dispersed, knowing I was right. They are part of the hospitality business, and they better be making a presence . . . not just in one location! Then agin, if they are like my wife . . . just wanted me to shut up!
I give the whole shebang the four smashed stage guitars from Miley Cyrus.
because there was plenty of smoke and flames, and every good rock concert deserves a smashed guitar or two. The show kicked ass and I will long remember it.
The venue and show “exceeded” my level of expectation, which was one of my first lessons about the hospitality business.