I’ve been reading Delivering Happiness by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. I highly recommend it as an inspirational story about sacrifice, drive, perseverance, and personal mission.
One of the things Hsieh stresses repeatedly is how much more interested he is in experiences than in acquiring things. It’s no wonder that Zappos has become known for its superior customer service.
This got me to thinking about how artists and arts organizations treat their guests at openings. Here's what I came up with.
When you host an opening and invite people, you are the host.
The people who attend, whether they pay or not, are your guests. They have gone out of their way to show up for you.
It’s to your advantage, and hopefully to your delight, to deliver happiness to them – not just with your art, but also in the way you treat them. How should your guests feel when they arrive? How would you like for them to remember the event?
Even if the opening is hosted by the venue, the guests are often coming because of you. Instead of thinking about it as just another opening, consider creating a memorable experience for your guests. Here are a few ways you can do this.
Tips for Delivering Happiness To Your Guests
1. Inform your guests ahead of time about directions and parking.
Let them know about any road construction or other events that might be occurring that would result in more traffic.
2. Set the scene.
See that the bathrooms are clean, put out a coat rack, and bring in extra seating. I realize you might not think of these things as your job, but who else cares more about your guests than you?
Designate a table for your promotional material: business cards, brochures, postcards, and other handouts. If appropriate, put together a notebook of information about your work.
3. Arrive early.
Hosts are not permitted to be fashionably late. If you tell your guests that the event is from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., you should be there by 5:45 at the latest.
4. Wear a name tag and greet people.
You can’t be the greeter at the door because you must be mingling with your guests. If you're the only artist, ask your closest friends or family to help you with this task.
Make an effort to remember names. When you meet someone, repeat his name out loud: “It's so nice to meet you, David.” Then repeat the name silently to yourself several times.
5. Introduce your guests to other guests, particularly when they arrive alone.
You are probably the only person in the room who knows everyone. What does Jane have in common with Jeff? How could Susan and Debbie benefit from knowing one another?
6. Limit your liquor.
All eyes will be on you as the featured artist. Be an example of restraint and sip on a single glass of wine all evening or forego the booze altogether.
People probably won’t buy your art if you’re tipsy and spill wine on them.
7. Stay for the duration.
Whether it’s a solo show or group exhibition, you are still obligated to be present for the entire event.
8. Send your guests home with a small gift.
Of course, you can’t always do this with a huge crowd, but what if each guest received a packet of your note cards or a small inkjet print of your work? You’d be getting more of your images out into the world and treating each person like royalty.
How do you deliver happiness at your openings and through your customer service?