Yesterday I talked about my first visit to night racing at Churchill Downs.
After spending a night waiting in interminable lines, my friends and I swore that we would never return.
The Downs admitted to underestimating the turnout and promised to fix the problems for the remaining night races.
But they didn’t just say they were sorry. They showed they were sorry by also offering a clear strategy for how they were going to improve (e.g., $1 happy hour beers...yippee!).
I was impressed. They didn’t deflect blame on others, they didn’t try to minimize the problems, and they didn’t deny responsibility.
And it worked. The next week we decided to give it another shot in hopes the problems really were fixed, and they were!
Churchill Downs kept its word. Food and beverage areas were doubled and employees were tripled. We didn’t have to wait for anything, and patrons were able to socialize in groups instead of lines.
So the experience did a 180-degree turn.
Attendance only dropped from 28,011 the first night to 27,623 the second night, so the apology was extremely effective.
In all, the Downs (1) sincerely apologized, (2) asked for a second chance, and (3) then made sure to make that second chance count.
[Can you imagine what would have happened if they had apologized and then not fixed the problems?!?]
So what could have been a disaster ended up being a hit. Churchill Downs made a mistake, said they were sorry, and then proved they were sorry by correcting their mistake.
If only my nephew were that focused on public relations...