Three observations for meeting planners from the Mac store

by Ben Martin, CAE on March 18, 2009 · 3 comments

In search of a replacement battery for my MacBook, I made my virgin voyage to our local Mac store here in Richmond. I use a Mac for my travel laptop, but I’m not one of those Kool-Aid drinking kind of Mac users. Yeah, I like my Mac a lot, but when I really need to bang out a spreadsheet or do serious office work, give me my desktop PC, thankyouverymuch.

But for someone with a foot in each world, I have to say, my first trip to the Mac store was a pretty remarkable experience. Three things really jumped out at me which might be applicable for you meeting planners:

  1. The place was packed, loud (but not too loud) and full of energy. It was like a party, and I felt cooler just  walking into the joint. Shoppers were talking to other shoppers and enjoying it. As best I can tell, there was no organized meetup or party scheduled. And as best I could tell, only a minority of people in the store seemed to be actually buying anything. Is it always like that? Lesson: Encourage plenty of time and space for members to just hang around, mingle with each other and staff, and have unstructured networking time at meetings.
  2. Compared to other stores, the place seemed over-staffed. So maybe I shop at the wrong stores, but I usually have trouble flagging down a helpful associate when I need one. Not at the Mac store. There must have been 10-15 employees on the floor in this 2000 square foot store. As soon as I walked in, I was able to get the attention of Dweezil, who was easily identifiable as an employee and who quickly got me the part I needed. Lesson: make it easy for attendees to recognize staff people and bring a lot of them.
  3. No cash registers. Every associate carried a Pocket PC that could scan the barcode and your credit card and handle all the back end business processes wirelessly. Pretty dang cool. But Pocket PCs in a Mac store? Double-you-tee-eff? Couldn’t they jailbreak an iPhone to run those apps? Lesson: Always be consistent with your mission and reason for being. Great way to earn authenticity points.

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