Sunday, April 15, 2012

Is Feedback Welcomed?

I work for a public center that provides a platform/facility for both academic and corporate/community events. Typically, these classes or events occur in rooms or classrooms of varying sizes and many guests may have different expectations in terms of start/stop times and how the room is handled overall.
I want to highlight one recent event in particular to illustrate how this situation could have been handled differently.

The community event was real estate related, scheduled from 10 to 12 pm on Saturday on the first floor – apparently, there were some attendees who couldn’t climb stairs so it was targeted on the first floor (even though the facility has 2 functioning elevators). The facility is typically at 50% capacity on weekends. An academic event was scheduled for 12:30 pm in the same room. No issues if things go as planned.

Well, things didn’t go as planned. The event went long – they didn't start on time (typical) and there were more attendees than normal so additional chairs had to be brought in. The event went to about 12:30 pm, which is 30 minutes longer than what was planned, even though the contact person was told to finish no later than 12:15 pm. By hurrying these real estate folks around noon, they were not happy to give up their room until the presentation was finished. The students, who normally had 5 minutes to get organized in the classroom were not happy as they were in limbo until the real estate event left the classroom and general gathering area.

As someone who might proactively attempt to avoid this bottleneck, if the event had been scheduled to finished 1 hour after the academic event, this probably would be a non-issue. Another solution was to move the classroom or real estate event to another class as capacity was at 50% for that day. Regarding the 1-hour buffer, even if the event went over by 30 minutes and the students would not have started to arrive until 15 minutes before the start and no issue. Win-win by planning well?

By not planning well, those at the real estate event felt rushed and cramped, the students felt inconvenienced, and the Saturday afternoon staff had to act like facility enforcements officials. No one was happy. Of course, as this occurred, those involved in scheduling were unaware of any issues until receiving feedback.

Moving on to the feedback, even if it’s constructively supplied to the regular academic and event planners, would it be heeded and welcomed? Would it make a difference in the end? Ideally, those who work at these events can sometimes be involved in planning events to help provide perspective and help avoid this and similar issues from occurring for future events.

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