Barriers to Entry: Orlando Pride Events 2012 – Brunch & Movie

I am writing this post because I would like the Come Out With Pride Orlando (COWP) organizers and vendors to recognize and address customer interface improvements that need to be made for future events.  In particular, the Sunday opening ceremony event that featured a movie I had worked on as a Valencia motion picture student.

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Leigh Shannon, one of the stars in the movie, posted the poster above on his facebook page to advertise this event.  I immediately went to the COWP website to checkout the reservations for the brunch.  Because it was the “Pre-Film Festival Opening” movie, I went to the menu option for the Film Festival.

There was nothing there about My Fair Lidy or the brunch.  So, being the investigative person I am, I went back to the event’s menu and found the brunch listed further down in the options list.  I clicked on the brunch, landed on the web page ad, and clicked on the link to purchase tickets.

Well, that was yet another misdirection.  The next page had buttons on it to make a reservation or modify a reservation.  I had expected it to go to a page that showed the specific event and ask for how many reservations I want to make.  So, I assumed I needed to click again on the make reservation button, which I did, and it took me to another unexpected page.  It asked for my email address and confirmation that I’m reserving tickets, not booking a hotel room.

At this point, I was curious to see how many bogus pages I had to pass before I could place an order for the reservation.  I input my email address and clicked to continue.  Then I saw the reservation options and discount code field, but by this time, I realized that I should ask my friend, who I had told about making this movie, would like to join me.  So, I exited the website and contacted her.

I also contacted the COWP email address to ask if they had discounts for cast and crew, since there was a discount code field and most movie workers get discounts or credit for attending screening events. The response I got was that there were no discounts because this event would only be covering their costs with no profits for the venue.  I thought that was strange and wondered if there were tickets for the movie without the brunch.

After a few days, my friend said she would like to attend and was trying to make the reservations online but couldn’t figure out how to do that.  So, we got on the phone and I walked her through the queer reservation workflow (no pun intended).

By this time, my feedback about brunch not being listed on the film festival page and a note on the page showing that tickets should be reserved using the make reservation button (duplicate click) had been improved with some bright red words.  When my friend got to the email address input page, she entered a bogus address because she didn’t want spam, and we finished making the reservations.

I was in constant communications with the COWP rep about the weird workflow and why it asked for email before making the actual reservation online.  He told me that was so he could reply back to those who don’t make a reservation in an attempt for him to urge them to fill out the credit card form.  Evidently, there are a lot of users who get to that page and proceed no further with a transaction.  I told him that my friend had entered a bogus email address and she never got a confirmation email or anything displayed on screen indicating how and when to pickup tickets.

I told him that users, like my friend, may not be computer savvy and get confused with unexpected input fields when trying to purchase a reservation.  He couldn’t understand how anyone would input a bogus email address or have problems with the workflow because his friends said it worked for them.

Well, that was about as far as I was going to try to convince this young man that 1) he’s not listening to customers, 2) he can validate email addresses, if that’s necessary, and 3) you’re probably losing revenue because users give up and ignore your email.  Then I saw this post by Leigh in facebook.

“I think some of you…said you tried to get tickets on line….and could not..PLEASE just show up.”

The day came and we were able to park a few block away and walked in the cooler Autumn weather under trees.  We brought our transaction printout as had been requested in the email that my friend finally got after phone calls and email exchanges.  Everything was fine.

We had a good brunch consisting of the usual quiche, fruit, croissant, bacon, orange juice, and coffee.  Before the show, the producer Sandi Bell and director Ralph Clemente came up to say hello.  I asked if she worked with the show to correct the webpage and she said yes.  But she was surprised only today to learn that they were offering movie-only tickets for $8.  Ralph said he could have probably filled the place had he known that.  His students would have a harder time paying $25 or $30 to watch a movie.

I was the only student from my 2011 class who had worked on the movie.  There turned out to be about 40 people total in attendance.  During the brunch, the AV department was working on the video feed that was jumping out of sync on a regular basis.  Then the show began.  The sync problem was fixed but now the audio blasted out so loud that it was distorted and we could only hear the sound from the left speakers.

I thought about talking with the audio mixer but at this point I had decided I was not going to even try to fix their production problems.  I could not hear the audience responses so I missed part of the reason for attending.  Moreover, my friend could make out the main story but a lot of joke were lost in the distortion.  I plan to buy a copy of the DVD so my friend can watch it at home at her convenience and at normal volume.

I can only hope that next year the vendors supporting COWP Orlando will make changes to their workflow, communicate product offerings with prices, and find an audio engineer who can hear.  My pleasure of the whole event was in getting feedback about the movie from my friend.  She said she thought it was a great story and that more people should watch it to learn about tolerance and friendship.  That made me happy.

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