To ensure I would be on time for my 5:30 meeting, I left my 14th floor room at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas at 4:50 pm. About a 10-minute journey, I thought, to find Marco Polo Junior Ball Room # 702. Plenty of time. Down the elevator, through the casino, turn right at the Security desk, head for the Convention Center.
The Convention Center is enormous. Spread over three floors. More than 100 yards from the main floor entrance to the far end with 50-yard-long hallways branching off the main corridor. I couldn’t find a sign pointing to the Marco Polo rooms. I retreated to the Convention Center entrance, looking again for signs I might have missed, then retraced my steps into the Center. Nothing.
I stopped a staff member walking down the hall. “Do you know where the Marco Polo rooms are?“ She didn’t. I interrupted a hallway monitor for another conference at the hotel. “Do you know where the Marco Polo rooms are?” She didn’t. She suggested I check with casino Security.
I walked 100 yards back to the Security desk. Could they please tell me where the Marco Polo rooms are? They weren’t sure. “I’m new here,“ said the first guy I talked to. He asked one of his buddies. He didn’t know. “Why don’t you ask the person sitting at the raised Security desk,“ he suggested. I did. She didn’t know.
“Do you have a map?“
“No, sir, I’m sorry, I don’t have a map.”
I called the hotel operator. “Do you know where the Marco Polo rooms are?“ She didn’t. I went back to Security, hoping for better luck. New crew of people. “Do you know where the Marco Polo rooms are?“
“Yes,“ said one of the guards.[I felt elated!!] “Go back down the hallway into the Convention Center. When you get to the escalators, turn left, go up the escalators and that’s where the rooms are.” I repeated the instructions and said thank you.
When I’d turned left and reached the top of the escalator, I looked for Marco Polo signs. To my left was the “Grand Canal” and an enormous plaza lined with restaurants. To my right, meeting rooms… and no Marco Polo.
Just for fun, I called out, “Marco” and listened for a response. Nothing.
As I stood in in silence punching on my phone, I heard, “May I help you find something?“
Turned out he works for the concession company that manages the restaurants and stores. “How kind of you to stop and offer, thank you.” He listened to my challenge. He didn’t know. We looked at the resort Web site. No directions given. He called his boss. The boss didn’t know.
My new friend walked me back down the escalators. We looked around. No luck. He suggested I call the Hotel Concierge.
I called the concierge. “Do you know where the Marco Polo rooms are?”
“No,“ replied the Concierge. “Let me get a map.“
At that point, I was standing at the bottom of now-well-traveled escalators. As I was waiting for the Concierge to find his map, I turned and looked to my right. From that vantage point, I could see another escalator down to a lower level. As I reached the top of that escalator and looked down…
Oh, my goodness!… I could see a sign for the Marco Polo rooms. You had to be standing just there to see the sign… and there it was.
“OK, I have it,” I called out to still-searching-for-his-map Concierge as I rode down the escalator and walked to room #702. I arrived just on time. The expedition had consumed 40 minutes.
Moral of the story [yeah, this week, I’m sooooo cranky about this misadventure that I’m going to call it out]: Make sure that your physical signage is clear, just short of excessive, and that everybody on your team has a map or a list that tells them, when they’re asked for information or directions, to whom to introduce a client or colleague – someone who can provide an answer or who will say “I’ll stay with you until we find an answer” rather than “I don’t know… call this guy.”
Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.
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