Detail makes the experience great

Here’s a story that I hope makes you look at what you deliver with your personal value. Doesn’t matter if you make products, deliver services, are a teacher or coach, it’s attention to detail that brings forth delight in your customers…or gives them the opposite.

My son turned 13 years old this week and he was out of school so I hunted for some place within driving distance where it was NOT raining. Turns out Las Vegas for Kids (i.e., the Wisconsin Dells) was supposed to have great weather (it does…it was 86 today!) there’d clearly be stuff to do and it would be cheap this time of year. For the same reasons I don’t particularly care for the real Las Vegas (smoky, noisy, gambling is a tax on the stupid, it mostly caters to prurient and base interests, etc.) I thought it could be interesting and I’d just look past the cheesy glitter and all that was tacky and make sure my guy had fun.

We’ve had a great time goofin’ around today but something occurred that I just can’t shake. We went to an attraction that is still making me scratch my head in wonder at how someone could invest significant sums to build and staff an attraction and then not focus on the details and an experience that turned out be incredibly lame. The attraction is called Top Secret.

The premise to Top Secret is that it’s an upside down White House and aliens have taken over (did they flip it over? We never did learn the backstory which was a huge mistake on their part) and these aliens are building robotic presidents. Though that is as good an explanation as any for how the last seven years of the Bush administration actually came to be, it’s unfortunate in an amusement that is $12 a head and when the attraction doesn’t do much with the premise.

My first clue that this wasn’t going to be a great adventure should’ve been the tragic misspelling that was plastered all over everything. When we walked up to the ticket booth, the expensive and nice polo shirts the staff were wearing were emblazoned with the words, “Top Secret: Archeological Experience“.  I mentioned to the young woman taking tickets that “archeological” was misspelled and should be spelled “archaeological” (she was a young college graduate I might add) and she seemed disbelieving until I grabbed my iPhone, did a quick lookup on and showed her.  She was mortified and indicated she would mention it to her boss.

As my son and I went on the tour, I chuckled as I noticed that this misspelling was printed on everything. OK….I’ll overlook it and just enjoy the tour. As we went inside (again, the premise is that this is a White House completely upside down) other glaring errors in the building were evident that took away from the experience. Door handles right side up on upside down doors and on the wrong side of the door; flooring (on the ceiling) that were different types in the same room; and White House rooms that the guide even admitted weren’t even close to being actual!

The portly young man who took us through the attraction was clearly bored and not an actor. That probably added to the lack of experience but the entire thing made me embarrassed FOR the owners.

If you read this, sniff and say, “Well, that Borsch is just an elitist” please read these comments by others: “Not worth the money!”, “Biggest Waste of Money in the Dells”, “The only mystery here is how this is called an attraction!”, “Top Secret is so awful I had tears in my eyes.” Ouch. Guess I should’ve been on the ‘net BEFORE going to this ‘attraction’ today, heh?

Here’s why details matter.

I think back on all the times I took my son and my daughter to Universal, Disney World/Disneyland, Six Flags and even the Severs Corn Maze (a local Twin Cities attraction where you walk through this maze of corn) and the incredible care taken to deliver an experience. Universal and Disney are on an altogether different scale, but I’ve been to haunted houses in small towns that delivered a more meaningful experience than Top Secret.

It’s tragic how easily this attraction could be made to be incredible. The premise is sound and could be extended, the guides could be good, the lighting could change, and there are hundreds of little touches which could make the overall experience fabulous.

Once when at Disney World, I wandered into a side alleyway on Main Street. Looking up, I noticed that everything: the shop windows up above; the signs on the wall nearly hidden from view; a bench back no one would ever see; all that detail was included with care. These sorts of subtleties make up a whole (kind of like Steve Jobs attention to something as mundane as packaging on all Apple products which look and feel incredible) that gives a participant an experience that’s worth the dough. When I opened my iPhone, my Macbook Pro earlier this year or even my Cinema Display a few months ago, I just look at the packaging since it’s of such high quality and just, well, feels good.

So sweat the details. Many of your customer’s might not notice the shoddy lack of caring, but the ones that do will tell many, many others and eventually it will catch up with you. Do it right from the get-go.

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  1. Ben Edwards on October 8, 2007 at 10:43 am

    I will be the last to defend this “attraction”, and I thank you for uncovering it’s flaws so I can save some money next time I am there, but it would seem that “archeology” is a variant of “archaeology” and accepted by Webster’s and other dictionaries I have searched.

  2. Steve Borsch on October 8, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Point taken Ben. It is a Webster’s identified variant but that said, I have NEVER, EVER seen it used in any literature, on any signage, on any TV show, or in any academic journal. Have you?

  3. JW on October 22, 2007 at 10:19 am

    A search on National Geographic’s website brings up 14 hits for “archeology” and 415 hits for “archaeology”.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.