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Rule #1 Revisited

This past weekend, my wife and I stopped in at the Great Grapes Wine Festival at Oregon Ridge. Beautiful day, live music, smiling people all around, great gathering of Maryland wineries…what could be better? Only one thing to complain about as we entered the festival – the business analyst part of me wouldn’t shut up.

The voice started up when we walked up to buy our tickets — $25 for each adult, $20 per child. Cash only.

Those of you who remember my post, Rule #1, will recall that I believe the first imperative in just about any endeavor is that you make it easy for people to do what you want them to do. Great Grapes wanted paid attendance; the more people, the better.

First Violation

Great Grapes had implemented a cash only policy in a card-centric world. How many people do you know who routinely carry $50 in cash? If you factor in payment for food, guests would need more cash than just the admission price. Equally as important, the policy seemed to come as a surprise to many of those walking up to purchase tickets to the festival. Some turned around and walked out.

Second Violation

There was one ATM machine on site. The machine charged a $3.50 service fee and was set at a $40 maximum cash outlay. Translation: If someone wanted cash for two tickets, he or she had to process two transactions, resulting in double the time spent at the machine and an irritating $7.00 total service fee. So now, Great Grapes had an increasingly long line of grumbling would-be patrons waiting to be robbed by the one ATM on site so they could comply with the irritatingly narrow ticket purchasing policy. (At least the festival served alcohol.)

Third Violation

Having made it past the ticket counter, we were directed to a tent where we could pick up our wine glasses. There were pre-printed signs along the table reading (as best I can recall):

Rule #1. They clearly knew what they wanted people to do. The organizers understood, at each step of the way, what path they wanted patrons to take. They simply failed to make it easy, enjoyable, or memorable — in a good way.

I’m wondering if they’ll do better next year. I may never know, of course, because I won’t be there to find out.

 

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