The buck stops... where?

Clear start and stop signals in experience design

One of the real highlights of the recent Dominica trip was certainly the Aerial Tram ride. This is truly a world class attraction, though it suffers very badly from hiding its value - a theme which I discussed in a post just before going there. (On hearing the price, we almost walked away - not realising what a great experience we would be getting for the US$63.) But that's not (as Arlo Guthrie said) what I came to tell you about.

What bugged me a little about the otherwise excellent tram set-up was the carpark. This is the (tree-)top eco-attraction on "the nature island" - but it seems no-one told the bus drivers what that means. They were all great guys and true service professionals, but they would wait for the customers with radios blaring, air conditioning on and engines running - visibly to the dismay of many green-minded visitors.

The question here is, does an Aerial Tram customer see the carpark as part of the "tram territory" or not? Does the drivers' behaviour detract from the eco-feeling? In this case, it certainly did - as the car park was styled and signposted just like the rest of the tram experience.

Now, the guys at the tram company will have to talk to those drivers - or move their signposts back behind the carpark. I hope they choose the former, as I am sure the drivers will be happy to help.

If there are things nearby your offering which do not "fit", then try to change them. Just ask! If they are out of your control, and you cannot move, make sure that the customer sees the borderline. A sign (or better, a ceremony) to welcome the customer, and another to wave them off, is not only good narrative structure, it is also a great way to separate your offering from the "noise" next door.

(I'll have a Video Blog on the Aerial Tram ride available soon. Watch this space.)

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