Sometimes you just gotta step out of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what husband and I did last weekend when we took a road trip down to Okeechobee, FL for a visit to the OK Corral. More specifically, the OK Corral Gun Club. Yep. You read that correctly, but before I give you the details, let me just set this little road trip up for you by saying this was for a family reunion celebrating a special birthday. And since the hosts of this event live in Okeechobee their venue choice made perfect sense. But still, the ‘back-story’ is worth telling because, well, it went something like this:
I receive a IM message with the initial invite. My response: “Ok, we’re in. Where and when?”
Reply: “Here, at the OK Corral,” which I, being an uniformed Orlando City Slicker, thought was just a cutesy name for their homestead in Okeechobee.
This is the week – Halloween is here! Have you heard enough about it yet, or can you stand a little more?
If you’re not into the whole HHN freak out at Universal, and yet Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party doesn’t quite do it for you either, here’s another option, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled! It’s ‘under the wheel’ at the Orlando Eye complex and for sure it’s the real deal with over 40 exhibits featuring more than 400 real animal skeletons in poses and dioramas that will give you a whole new perspective (dare we say, um, the actual inside scoop?) on our friends in the animal kingdom. Plus, the price of this one might not rattle your bones as much as those other options with current ticket prices at $19.99 per adult and $12.99 for kids ages 3-11.
As I finished up my work with another convention group here in Orlando today the client mentioned they were heading out to the airport early due to all the hurricane preparations.
“Huh? Joaquin has already passed Florida and moving on up North” I replied. “Looks like this one is missing us.”
“We know, and now it’s expected to hit us back in New Jersey, so we need to get outta this place right away and get home!”
And to be clear, they are ready for it! Last week’s media opening of the IDrive 360, aka The Orlando Eye, was followed by the public invited-guests-only opening on 4/29; and by the time you read this post the doors, err, I should say ‘pods’, will be officially open to the world. And that’s a very good thing. Want to know why? As Scott Maxwell said in his ‘Taking Names’ column in the Sunday, May 3 Orlando Sentinel, “this is what I-Drive needs – an innovative, high-tech addition that’s garnering national attention.”
That’s due to more than just the stand-out size of this project which can be seen from numerous locations in and around Orlando. It’s also due to the prestigious comparisons being made between this attraction and similar successful ones already in place in London and other world class global destinations.
Yes, it’s true. Some of us are able to get in before the crowds and take a ‘spin’ around. But no, when I use the word spin I’m not referring to having been on the ride already because technically, well, it’s not quite ready and seriously, who wants to risk their lives just for the sake of scooping a story? Not the HH Maven, although during my days at USF we were privy to many opportunities to ‘ride the rides’ before the flood gates were open to the masses. But I digress with that little share because this post is not about a [now] 25 year old attraction. This is a preview post about the latest and greatest attraction that Orlando has to offer, The Orlando Eye.
I know you’re already thinking I’m a lucky gal, right? Well, yes, I’ll go ahead and agree with you because I’m not going to lie. It’s a really cool thing to be able to take a hard hat walk-through while the place is still empty and in advance of an estimated 2 million visitors (year one estimate) coming from every nook and cranny of the universe to see what all the fuss is about. But beyond the ‘cool’ factor I should also point out that I do make my living as a planner so, among other things, that means I like to know details in advance because how else can a planner avoid near disaster if she isn’t properly informed? Lucky for you I’m happy to share what I was able to learn about the I-Drive 360 which is the official name of what most people will refer to as The Orlando Eye.
If so, there’s plenty to choose from, especially here in Orlando. And in particular if you’re one of the many, many people who actually put this sentence on your resume or job application: “I’m such a PEOPLE person, I know I’ll be perfect for this job! People just LOVE me!” Well go ahead, gag all you want, but some people, and you know who you are, really do put this on their job application. But good news for all you people-lovers, because guess what? Seriously, what kind of jobs are out there that don’t require some form of interaction with actual live human beings at some point? (Okay, I do recognize that there are a lot of virtual workers in the world now; but still, even those jobs must require just a tad of playing-nice-with-people-when-necessary, right?)
Keeping up with industry buzzwords, I learned recently that we have left the SERVICE economy behind us and are now in the EXPERIENCE economy. (Technically, this happened a few years back. For data and details, check out the book The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore that was last updated in, um. 2011. Full Disclosure: Not the first time I’ve been late to the party. Just sayin’ .) Anyway, here in the wonderful world of hospitality we still believe that service is king, oh yes we do! But, the current challenge is to find more and better ways of providing excellent service experiences at the same time that we’re embracing unemotional systems, policies and procedures.
To put it in a hospitality-hotel nutshell, if you’re smoking your iPhone and are addicted to technology (yes, you out there, currently tapping your thumbs on your you-know-what), do you really want or care about that smile delivered with your room key at hotel check in, or would you prefer to bypass human interaction at the front desk and unlock your room with an app that you’ve downloaded on your very own hand-held piece of legal crack (aka iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, or whatever you’ve got)?