Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Are They Coming To See?

We have been told too long now that “Company is coming” and that we need to be ready. To that end, we have made big improvements to our roads and other facilities, although I think that we have greatly neglected some of our existing built environment just because we are used to it.

Here is a telling account from one of our overseas (Great Britain) guests.
The appeal is being able to see multiple world class disciplines in one place. Personally, I was going to stay the whole event - travel around KY the days I wasn't that interested, see every discipline and generally enjoy myself and learn about some disciplines I've never been involved in - reining and endurance mainly.

I've been priced out. Ironically now all I'm seeing is the eventing, when I can see that much cheaper at the same level at Badminton and Burghley for a fraction of the cost. I'd love to stay longer and see something else, I will never have the chance to see reining at that level in the UK for example. …
By not making the tickets affordable the WEG organizers have now impacted many more Kentuckians than just those in Lexington. Our “world class” landscape and other local specialties do have an allure but not when we are just out to “soak the visitor”.

He goes on to tell of his experiences and opinions of the WEG decisions.
a) They knew the finances were going to be strained by looking at previous WEGs
b) They knew a long time ago the economy was going to pot and have not reacted, as far as we can see, appropriately.
c) They (I don't believe) really looked at what their visitors would want
d) They've underestimated the power of goodwill. They've treated the volunteer base very poorly, they've misjudged many elements.
d) Incidentally there are also many minor hiccups. Ticket master wouldn't allow me to pay as my card holder address is in the UK. No problem says the literature... in reality on the form you have to fill in your state, from a pre-selected list. Ummm ticketmaster... not everywhere has states.... It wasn't easy to buy for multiple events and choose your seats. hello. I'm travelling half way around the world. I don't want best available, I want to quickly and easily (you know, like the theatre or an airline) choose my seat. Confusion over parking, can I have a car etc, etc, etc all just make it too hard.
Items c) and d) are the ones that speak the loudest to me and despite the latest Herald Leader article on the WEG volunteers, the accounts that I have read elsewhere paint a very sad tale. This from a horse person in Tenn.
I started out wanting to be a volunteer, but the process became increasingly more annoying. First I was told I'd know by March...I actually got my official "we didn't chose you for eventing" notice last week. By then I'd long since bailed. I looked into general volunteering--what a morass of conflicting information and delay. I gave up on that, too, pretty quickly, and bought tickets for my daughter and myself. Now they're saying that general volunteers must agree to at least 6 shifts of 8 hours each, on non-consecutive days--ie, you've got to promise to be available for the whole thing.

Hello? I live 5 hours away. It's two months until showtime. They're just now getting the details together?

I don't have a hotel room yet. I'm waiting until people start cancelling.
And one from Pa.
Are the WEG people completely desperate for general volunteers or something? I signed up a bit ago online, and then got a URL for some kind of survey to fill out about skills and so on, which I haven't returned yet because my mom is having health issues and I'm trying to figure out if I can even possibly go, and now in the last two days I've gotten a DIFFERENT survey thing saying they wanted to give me an assignment, then another email with an actual assignment saying I was supposed to respond in a week if I was going to be able to do it, and today (note, have not responded to ANY of these yet because my mom only had a doctor's appointment today about things and I wanted to see how that went) I got yet another email with a link to online training.

I mean, if it was just 'sign up and here's your assignment and go here to see the training information' then that'd be one thing, but they keep sending the survey emails and asking for a response as if the information is important, or to confirm your interest, and then... sending the next bit anyway.

(Now, if they really wanted to encourage me to volunteer, the NEXT email would be about how they've organized some kind of low-cost housing set up for volunteers or something, because no way can I afford $400/night or whatever the ridiculous price is for a hotel room somewhere in the vicinity.)
The needs and desires of our guests should be paramount to our endeavor and not the quest to separate them from their money. We should be encouraged to show our best southern hospitality

Wikipedia defines this southern hospitality as follows,
Some characteristics of southern hospitality were described as early as 1835, when Jacob Abbott attributed the poor quality of taverns in the south to the lack of need for them, given the willingness of southerners to provide for strangers. Abbott writes: “[T]he hospitality of southerners is so profuse, that taverns are but poorly supported. A traveller, with the garb and the manners of a gentleman, finds a welcome at every door. A stranger is riding on horseback through Virginia or Carolina. It is noon. He sees a plantation, surrounded with trees, a little distance from the road. Without hesitation he rides to the door. The gentleman of the house sees his approach and is ready upon the steps. ”

Abbot further describes how the best stores of the house are at the disposal of visitors. Furthermore, says Abbott: “Conversation flows cheeringly, for the southern gentleman has a particular tact in making a guest happy. After dinner you are urged to pass the afternoon and night, and if you are a gentleman in manners and information, your host will be in reality highly gratified by your so doing."
Such is the character of southern hospitality.
Several cities are viewed as being bastions of Southern hospitality. These include New Orleans; Lafayette; The Upstate of South Carolina known as the Golden Corner; Charleston; Columbia; Nashville; Charlotte; Wilmington; Lexington; Birmingham; Houston; Tulsa; Little Rock; Memphis; Richmond; Annapolis; Jackson, Mississippi; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Savannah, Georgia., Augusta, Georgia and Atlanta, Georgia.
The above list is not inclusive nor in alphabetical order but I would hope that we, the rest of the state of Kentucky not tied up in the WEG mess, will extend the real meaning of “Southern hospitality” and mitigate a lot of the damage that has been caused so far.

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