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A post from Carly Suppa over at H&K on a proposed law in New York state that would make it a fineable offense to cross the street while operating handheld device (mp3 players, PDAs, etc..) reminded me of my own run-in with inane policies and practices.

During a visit to my then girlfriend in Boston, we went to a Black Eye Peas concert held at Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University. Not being a huge of BEP, I wanted to numb myself to the experience with a frosty glass (or rather plastic cup) of Samuel Adams (for the record, one of the finer beers produced south of the border).

Upon reaching the front of the line, I was told that my Ontario drivers license was not an acceptable form of ID. I was told that only a Mass drivers license or passport was acceptable. Scouring the arena, I did manage to find some covertly placed signs informing patrons of this policy. It was not, however, mentioned anywhere on the event tickets or on the arena’s website (which I had visited to find directions).

My explanation to the arena’s service manager that my license has been perfectly adequate to cross the US border and gain access to bars & clubs in at least a dozen countries fell on deaf ears. It is also quite clear that I am over 21 yrs old.

The problem here is not so much with the policy itself (though I do think it’s unnecessarily restrictive). After all, BU & the Agganis Arena is private institution and entitled to make rules that it feels are in the best interests of its students (I imagine it was put in place after underage kids used out-of-state licenses to acquire booze and then make fools of themselves and the school). Oh yeah, and there’s those pesky liability issues. The issue is one of knowing your audience and communicating information to them in a way that ensures they have a positive experience with your product/service.

So here’s my tip sheet for the good folk at Agganis Arena

  • Recognize that Boston is a university town. It has two of the world’s most prestigious schools – Harvard & MIT – and draws students from around the globe. This is important if you are hosting events that will draw a non-BU audience that is likely to be unfamiliar with your policies.
  • Students from other countries are unlikely to have their Mass drivers license and would be unlikely to bring their passport to an event unless told that they would need it (who brings a passport to a concert/sporting event???)
  • You are in the service industry. To ensure your customers have an enjoyable experience – post ALL important details of your building’s policy.
  • When someone takes the time to write to you offering comments on their experience with your services, take the time to respond. Even a “Thank you for your feedback. Your comments have been noted.” is appreciated.
  • Make sure your staff are well-versed on the rationale behind a policy. A blank stare, shrug of the shoulders and “well, that’s just our policy” doesn’t make a situation any better.

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

February 16, 2007 at 12:19 pm

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