Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jet Blue Terminal 5

I'm right now sitting at Jet Blue's Terminal 5 at JFK, and I have to say that Jet Blue understands that they can create a positive customer experience long before their actual "product." After all, Jet Blue is in the business of flying people from Point A to Point B. But they have taken a clear interest in designing the arena in which people get that experience.

I arrived at the airport, and checked my bags with a nice, helpful attendant named Tyrone, who joked with the customers. When he spotted my American Airlines bag tag that I hadn't removed from my last flight, he pointed out to me that you can book a JetBlue flight domestically and connect to an American Airlines flight internationally.

Also, I noticed signs in the bathroom that told people that if they spotted something wrong with the bathroom, they should inform Jet Blue's customer service folks (who sit at desks labelled "ASK ME").

Right now, I'm sitting at these specialized benches with plenty of power-ports and touch-screens where you can order food where you sit. No, seriously. It says on the side that you can surf the internet and place an order for food or drink while you work. And they give you free WIFI to do it with. Suck that American Airlines/Boingo WIFI!

My point in all that is that I'm sitting here feeling some of that old-fashioned customer loyalty, and I'm probably going to enjoy my flight more even though my flight experience will have nothing to do with any of this. It's ridiculous and petty of me, but I feel better since I feel like Jet Blue is actually invested in my positive experience.

It makes me wonder about theater lobbies. Do we do everything in our power to make the pre-show experience and post-show experience enjoyable to our audiences? Do we take responsibility for each moment of that experience? Is there anything we could be doing better, or newer, or differently?


RVCBard said...

You bring up some good questions.

For me, personally, it would be nice if there wasn't such a rush.

Before the show, it's a rush to get seated. After the show, it's a rush to leave.

Outside of the show itself, the only time I hear from anyone affiliated with the show is when they want me to do something for them. "Come see our show! Join our mailing list! Volunteer for us!" It's not as bad as panhandlers, but it does rub me the wrong way.

It makes me feel like a consumer, not a part of the experience. There has to be something more . . . inviting that we could do.

Even something as simple as, "Hey, we're going for a junk food run. Anybody want anything?"

CultureFuture said...

Very true, very true. I think the key is that we don't really give anything to do. Sometimes I feel like intermission/arriving early at the theater is like sensory deprivation. You're there with a bunch of quiet strangers who you don't know, and there just isn't anything to do.

When I went and saw Lily's Revenge at HERE Arts Center, they filled the intermission time with games, interactive activities, a reading room, the ability to speak to the performers... it took my least favorite part of the show and made it one of my favorite parts.

Maybe audience mixers before the show? Games or activities to help get the audience on the same page, to help the show that comes afterwards feel more like a shared experience.

It would have to match whatever show is going on. It worked for The Lily's Revenge because it fit into the aesthetic that Taylor Mac works in. Obviously, I don't know if Sarah Kane's "Blasted" would be well served by having audience games beforehand.

Also, I'd prefer if the artists were more accessible before and after the show. Maybe the performers have something to be doing, but if the writer or director is on hand, it might feel a little more like they're taking ownership over the space they're inhabiting.

I ran box office on the show that I produced so that I could greet everyone who came and thank them for coming. Not always possible or feasible.

RVCBard said...

I considered doing something like a film screening.

Example: Prior to "Tulpa, or Anne&Me," it would be neat to screen some relevant films. But there's a whole legal thing involved with that.

CultureFuture said...

I like that idea, but it might also have a little bit more of an audience-sitting-and-watching vibe to it. I feel like events before or after the show need to feel different from the sitting-quietly-and-watching feeling you get when you're watching the show itself.

I think that's where a lot of talk-backs fail, because they ask the audience to keep being audience members. I'd prefer something less structured, like "the director/writer will be available after the performance if you'd like to talk to them," and have them mill around and answer questions if people have them -- but not have them continue that butts-in-seats approach.

I wonder if there's something similar to a film screening that would wake up people's minds to the themes/ideas in the performance, but in a way that's more interactive. I will ponder this idea.

RVCBard said...

I like that idea, but it might also have a little bit more of an audience-sitting-and-watching vibe to it.

I tend to agree. Will think more.

RVCBard said...

This post seemed apt for revisiting considering what I'm up to.

I'm going to make a staged reading of "Tulpa, or Anne&Me" into a birthday party. With cake. And balloons. And party hats. And maybe ice cream.

BTW, it's since been heavily revised, so it's virtually a different piece.

CultureFuture said...

Glad that it stuck out in your mind.

If you do the birthday party thing, collect your feedback in the form of birthday cards. That might add up to be 'spensive, but it seemed joyful in my mind.