Sunday, March 4, 2007

What if personal relationships are the experience?

Last Saturday we celebrated the birthday of my friend Angelique with breakfast in Cafe Barista.

We arrived early, at 9 am. Within an hour the small cafe was buzzing with the happy chatter and laughter across tables of dine-in and take-away customers who all seemed to know each other and be part of the same party. I did not know that this was the Saturday morning ritual of "the regulars". But what an experience!

It also made me realize how easy it is to create (or have) a great experience in a small market, just because everybody knows everybody. It reminded me of why I preferred the Curacao carnival to the Trinidad carnival: in Curacao I knew lots of people standing at the roadside, people you danced with a little bit, posed for, or had a little chat with. That is a big part of the experience for me. In Trinidad I knew no one.

It made me wonder if a tourist or someone visiting alone or as a couple would have the same experience in our bars and cafe's or in our carnival. If not, how do we create it for them also?
How about that first-time customer, who does not know anyone and who is not yet loyal, what is his first experience? After you have invested money to lure him, after he has taken the plunge, is his experience good enough for him to come again and become a regular with a good lifetime return for your company?

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