Here’s a fact: You definitely never want a whole stadium of fans booing you or your company or chanting that you and your product suck!
That’s bad for business.
That’s bad for your brand.
Yet, on Thursday night…what was happening at Nats Park just as the Nationals were entering the late innings of a deciding game 5 against the Dodgers.
The above sign flashed on the big screen at the ballpark and a chorus of boos and chants rained down, and reporters from around the country were buzzing about this on Twitter.
Besides the easily placed jokes, this failure of the DC Metro system is not just bad for the WMATA…because their brand equity has been declining for years now, but on a much more significant level, the failure of the DC Metro to provide service during signature events like the Nationals’ playoff game or the Marine Core Marathon is a real shot to the brand of the District and any and all efforts that Events DC and other organizations make in promoting the city and the area as a tourist destination.
While it is inarguable that the Metro system is in need of serious repairs, failures to meet the ridership demands of the population put the area’s place as a world class destination at serious risk.
And, don’t get me started on the idea of never offering late night hours.
But enough tearing down the Metro system…what can be done to repair the already done damage?
1. Come up with some sort of flex plan that adapts to the fluctuating demands of a major metropolitan area:
You know something about DC, a lot of people aren’t from here.
You know something else about DC, a lot of the peak demand of the Metro system can be better managed because it is driven by a reliance on the federal government.
Something else, there are a lot of special events in DC.
If you combine these things together, it might make sense to create a plan with a great deal more flexibility in it so that you aren’t wasting capacity during times of the year when there isn’t the same demand, but more importantly so that you have the ability to meet the demands of the population when special events do occur.
2. Put aside this idea of closing early every night, even on the weekends:
You know all those young people that DC is prideful in talking about rushing into DC to live, they are going to be a lot less likely to want to live here if there isn’t mass transit to move them around after rush hour.
What’s that going to do to the private sector in the DC area, its going to destroy it.
That’s something that you can’t have because the area already struggles to get out from under the stranglehold of the federal government’s whims and fluctuations.
3. Fix the system and then spend the time, money, and energy on promoting the new, improved system:
You build brands with publicity.
That’s what drove the success of the Metro system at its birth.
And, as the system has fallen into disrepair, publicity has also driven the new brand of “Expect Less!”
Once the repairs on the system are done, it isn’t going to be a mass flood of people moving back to using the system like its always been used.
No, it is going to take time and effort to get people back onto the system.
Which is going to take significant trust building. This will require money, time, and energy.
Don’t do it at your own risk.
Without this, the Metro brand will be kaput, but more importantly, the DC brand will be in the crapper right along with it!