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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.