Monday, March 19, 2007

Giving Accurate Locations

I feel sorry for travelers including meeting planners when they are given the misimpression there is such a place called Raleigh-Durham, NC. I say given, because when we track down the origin of the misinformation, they were most often misled by someone from this general area but not from Durham. It goes like this: The planner books a meeting in Durham, but an acquaintance in Raleigh, hearing about it, says, “Oh, you’re meeting in Raleigh?” If the planner clarifies by saying, “No, I’m meeting in Durham or Research Triangle Park,” the acquaintance goes “Oh, Raleigh-Durham.”

Seems innocent enough unless you’re attending the conference. If the attendee searches for information or directions to the hotel using Raleigh-Durham, NC, it will almost always come up that this doesn’t match any locations (because there simply is no such place as Raleigh-Durham--it’s the name of an airport). If the attendee then puts in Raleigh, which would be logical, it will give directions to the address but in Raleigh, where no hotel is located.

It is rare they will put in “Durham,” if the location reads Raleigh-Durham.

Of course if DCVB steps in to give the planner a heads-up that the location they’ve selected is in Durham, NC, the planner may feel stupid and thus angry for having been misled by the acquaintance in the first place, or the acquaintance will be livid for being busted. Either way, they’re both likely to take it out on the messenger. We’ll usually get called un-regional or worse, e.g., condescending or unworthy of being world-class. Okay, people get mean when they feel dumb… that’s human, kinda.

But through it all, a CVB needs to keep focused on the needs of the customer and the integrity of the community’s brand. If we say nothing, just imagine how “dumb” the travelers feel when they discover Raleigh-Durham is an airport and, upon exiting, find two arrows pointing in opposite directions. “Oh, oh, which one do I take?” Worse yet, they have equal odds of overnighting in a community different than where the meeting is held… and commuting I-40 in traffic.

We know how dumb they feel because they hammer the Durham CVB for not helping the planner get the location right. So year after year, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

I guess using a term like the airport name, “Raleigh-Durham,” would work if the Triangle was centric or centered around a dominant city. But the Triangle is polycentric, and none of us will be truly world-class until residents in any part of this family of communities accept that giving the specific location, both community and address, to a traveler is just being courteous. Giving anything else borders on malicious. In fact regionalism has nothing to do with embracing ambiguous terms.


Anonymous said...

Get a life!!!

Reyn said...

Thanks for the concern. I could be equally dismissive and respond "get a map:)" But tell me more about why you don't think inaccurate addresses are inconvenient to newcomers and visitors?