What is a Spinnaker? A spinnaker is the large brightly colored sail seen on many sailing boats, but that is not important right now. It is also the name of a concert venue on the Norwegian Pearl which is a cruise ship where we host our annual event “Cayamo.” Cayamo is a festival on the seas that brings together songwriters with their most passionate fans.
Last year the staircase outside the Spinnaker was the place where several hundred of our guests spent a few hours waiting in a line to get inside the venue to see Richard Thompson perform. When instead they should have been out enjoying their vacation.
One of the challenges that comes with our business is guessing which artists will create the most demand during our festivals at sea. This time we guessed wrong, scheduled Richard Thompson in a venue that was too small and put our guests through a tougher day than necessary.
I remember standing in the Spinnaker as frustrated guests filed in and thinking to myself that we had to take responsibility for our oversight and let our guests know we aspire to be better than what was delivered.
Not to mention, we owed Richard Thompson an audience with guests in better moods.
I noticed a few people in line were drinking "Fish Bowls," a large brightly colored drink that screamed “I am on vacation!” I asked the bar manager in the Spinnaker how long it would take him to make 500 of them. He promised me he could do it in under 20 minutes so I said lets do it.
When it was time for me to introduce Richard Thompson for his set, I walked backstage with one of the fruity drinks in the large fish bowl that we had appropriately named "The Spinnaker Staircase" and I briefed Richard on the situation. I asked him if I could take a little extra time to “Make it Right” for our guests.
So I walked out on stage with my "Spinnaker Staircase" and told our guests that I was there to take responsibility for the experience they were having so far that day and that as a company, our goal was for them to be on vacation and not in lines. I then let them know that to commemorate surviving the adventure, we had created a special drink called the “Spinnaker Staircase” and that everyone was going to get one on the house and they could keep the glass to remind them of this moment for years to come.
At that moment, the bar staff filtered thru the Spinnaker with trays of "Spinnaker Staircases" and handed them out to everyone. There was a sea of large red fruity drinks when Richard took the stage and he made the crowd instantly forget about having to wait in line because he was so damn good.
At the end of the day, it was a $5,000 investment we made and it allowed us to show our guests what we were eager to "make it right" and allowed us to build a process to avoid the situation in the future.