Sandy Says: Captive Audience

Sometimes, when we know we have a captive audience, we don't step up our game. That doesn't work for dining out, and it doesn't work in safety.

Nothing against the fine people of Orlando, most of whom I never meet because I'm stuck at the convention center or some Disney resort, but I hate Orlando. I hate it because I'm held captive by bad food and bad service at restaurants and hotels the entire time I'm there. 

I've had hotels double-charge me for a room and when I pointed it out, the front desk attendant shrugged and said, "I guess I could fix it," and promptly charged me a third time. 

Another hotel featured a fire alarm directly outside my room that went off non-stop for my entire stay. Complaints were ignored and when I asked for a price reduction on my bill – considering that I had asked 10 or more times to be moved because of the non-stop racket – I was asked, "What fire alarm?" A third hotel featured a falling shower wall; I've tried to block that one out entirely.

The food in Orlando is equally as terrible; I've sent food back, had my order messed up and had my order completely forgotten more times than I can count – probably more times than the combined number of times it's happened throughout the rest of my life.

The reason the fine establishments in Orlando can get away with treating customers this way is because the customers are held captive. Food and service in the "tourist" parts of Orlando don't have to be good, because most of the people who are eating or staying there won't be back for many years, if ever.

I was reminded of my Orlando experiences this weekend while we were celebrating a friend's birthday. We had a group of 10 people at a popular beer market-type restaurant/bar in an area that's the latest "hot" neighborhood. Because we had a large group, the gratuity was added. Apparently, the server felt this was a good excuse to ignore the table for most of the evening. I'm not sure what excuse the kitchen had to serve the terrible food that showed up at our table, other than the fact that diners at the restaurant are a captive audience and since it's a popular spot, there's always another customer willing to fill a vacant seat. I left that restaurant thinking, "Well, that's $50 and 2 hours I'll never get back. What a waste."

Too often, I've sat in safety presentations – either while visiting a company or at a conference – and thought, "What a waste of time!"

A presenter or trainer – who usually shows less enthusiasm for the topic than the audience – drones on and on, covering ground that's been covered before.  The audience sits through it because it's required training (employees) or because they paid for it or want the professional credits (a conference). No one truly benefits.

Here are some random thoughts about training and motivation:

      • If the trainer or presenter doesn't have a passion for the subject matter, or can't present it in a way that captures the attention of the audience, there's no way the audience is going to be enthusiastic about learning. If you can't be motivated about training, find someone else to do it who can. All the knowledge in the world is useless if you can't share it in a way that's valuable.

      • Make the training or presentation relevant to the work being done by the employees. Canned programs with no other additional site- or job-specific training are so basic as to be nearly worthless. And if the training is relevant to employees' work or safety, don't think that a once-a-year refresher is enough. Follow up.

      • Hands on/real time training always should be a part of any training program, in my opinion. Until employees experience in action the training they've learned in the classroom, there will be a disconnect.

Trust me, the last thing you want is for the audience of your safety training or presentation to think: "That's 2 hours I'll never get back."

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