Remember the rhyme about how little things can have big consequences?
For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
Well, I got a great example of that in the mail this week.
My sister and I have tickets to the Rogers Cup ATP tennis tournament in Montreal in August – we’ll be haunting the grounds of Stade Uniprix (formerly Jarry Park Stadium) for two days of the tournament, like we did centuries ago when we were ballgirls for the Canadian nationals at the Rideau Tennis Club in Ottawa.
We ordered our tickets online, and they came in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Then this week, I got another, totally unexpected envelope from Rogers Cup in the mail: metro tickets to get us to and from our matches.
“Great PR,” I thought – “a freebie, great involvement of a government sponsor, opportunity for the tournament to promote its sustainability initiatives – everyone looks good and the customer is delighted. Must blog about it.” I filed the metro tickets away with the event tickets.
Then this week, I saw a tweet about someone having gotten metro tickets from the Rogers Cup… but for the wrong days. So I checked mine and… lo and behold… mine aren’t right either!
I can only imagine what a logistical nightmare this is going to be for the organizers. They can just re-issue metro tickets for the right days (which could double the cost); or they can do a big internal communication initiative to ensure Société de transport de Montréal employees accept the tickets for any day of the tournament, with an external communication initiative to ensure everyone knows they can use the tickets for any day. Or they might come up with some other solution (though they wouldn’t be well-advised to ask customers to send the original metro tickets back). No matter how you slice it, it’s going to be expensive, both in time and money – likely both for Tennis Canada and the Société de transport de Montréal.
Of course, this will have no effect on how much my sister and I enjoy cheering Roger and Rafa on (Nadal’s injuries and Federer’s impending fatherhood permitting), but it does make what should have been a great gesture somewhat of a pain for the customer, and an enormous hassle for organizers (not to mention that it reflects poorly on the organization overall).
In event planning, you do your best to check, double-check and triple-check everything. Unfortunately, every once in a while, some little detail like this gets by you… and to paraphrase Vincent Gardenia’s character in Moonstruck, that is a long, bad, expensive day.
UPDATE - HOW THEY HANDLED IT:
I left a voice mail with tournament organizers on Saturday, and got a call back today (within one business day). The fellow said they'd had "big problems" with the metro ticket initiative, but that they would just send out new tickets for the right dates. Potentially an expensive, but definitely the most customer-friendly way to manage it. Nice job.