Goodwill Benefits Of The Arts

In the course of this blog I have posted about great customer service experiences I have encountered. I have also mentioned some superlative performances to which I have been witness. Never before have I had occasion to discuss how a great performance has earned me extended good customer service.

Last winter we had a flamenco group perform in our theatre. We had a great audience and some really good outreach events, one of which earned us the commendation of a program officer at the state arts foundation. For this alone, I would be happy.

By some confluence of events, the group and the guest services manager at the hotel we use really hit it off. I am not sure what exactly happened. The group asked us to set aside tickets for about six of the hotel staff. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it isn’t completely rare. In fact, some times I have given comps to shows front desk people have wanted to see.

This time was different from the past. In the course of the group’s stay, the front desk and they really bonded. When the group returned to Spain, they sent the guest services manager a gift. When I met with the guest services manager last week to talk about our room needs for the coming season, she mentioned that she was planning to visit the flamenco group during a vacation to Europe.

As I write this, I almost feel ashamed to admit that I have benefited from this burgeoning relationship. I haven’t pressed any advantage, but the good will the guest services manager has felt has facilitated my operations since then.

Because of flight schedules, just about every group we had perform since last winter has arrived before noon and the check in time was 3:00. In the past we were told that the hotel would try to fit them in, but it was likely they would have to wander around for awhile until the rooms were ready. This past Winter and Spring we were told the first rooms available would be theirs. No one ended up having to wander around and kill time until the rooms were ready.

As a result, the artists were more settled and rested than in the past. They were able to arrive at the theatre at the appointed time and didn’t feel rushed to set up. I can’t say they performed any better than they would have had they been obliged to wait a few hours before they checked in. I do think they left having a more positive view of our organization than they might have.

They had no idea they were the beneficiary of the good will generated by those who preceded them. From the tenor of my meeting with the guest services manager, it is likely the benefits will be extended to artists in our next season as well. Hopefully none of them will cause things to sour.

To me this is one of the intangible benefits the arts bring to the community. If I was just another company bringing a lot of business to the hotel, they would certainly make an effort to ensure all our needs were met. I don’t know that they would be as personally invested in my organization if our entire relationship was based on commerce. How we might benefit from this is a lot harder to measure than economic or even intrinsic benefits. (Though accountants will try to figure it out for you.)

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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