Here’s the rundown when it comes to a branded event: you receive the email blast from the PR agency (you have no idea how you got on this list but you ain’t mad) or you receive a message from a friend promoting it.

For the brand side, we know what you want from this event for tomorrow’s ROI recap meeting. Count the hashtags, measure the engagement, and check out if any influencers did any dope posts that you can repost on your end.

Health and wellness are a “popular thing” nowadays. Miller Light has produced commercials targeting athletes and fit folks and when I received the invite for a Ketel One workout event in conjunction with Bandier, I thought to myself: “Hey, it’s a free workout so I’m game for a sweat session and excited to see what this branded event that starts at 5pm (rush hour) will offer us.”

Here’s a breakdown of why I left 9 minutes after walking in.

Guinea Pig Test for Entry
The usual: walk-up, state your name, state your game. The staff fumbled some papers and asked me to fill out a waiver because there’s photo & video on-site. I ask where the content will be shared and the older man in charge looked at the younger man almost testing him for the answer, the younger man looking confused for a few seconds, mentioned it wouldn’t be shared. I guess that meant it would only be for internal use (but again, does it really measure up for the ROI involved in investing in content team ie. photo/video). I was able to walk in but the older man asked the younger man to check ID’s as it was a 21+ event. Understandably so, but I immediately got the impression that my friend and I were the guinea pig entry round as I noticed we were the only guests at this time on-site. Granted, we were on time (or should I say early AF for LA time).

The Ill-Informed Timing Pushback
It’s 5:12. As we walk through the entry doors we see a beautiful green open space. We also see the usual production folks scrambling to get things together before the show starts. A woman runs up to us to inform us that we’re early. I notified her that the invite says 5pm, and she tells me they pushed it back by 30 minutes. Although I didn’t receive the time update, I thought I would just hang out and enjoy the beautiful floral arrangements and “instagrammable” walls they made an effort to build. But what I was really thinking was, y‘all had weeks of meetings with the client, the agency, and the production team to put this together; at this point it just seems messy.

The Safe POC Girl
Like most events, there are influencers, or models, or attractive caterers. In this case they had athletic women dressed in crop tops, colorful leggings, and rocking washboard abs that made me feel like crap. At a quick glance I noticed most of them were blonde except for the “one safe POC girl.” This is no surprise to me as most fitness events I go to it’s a rare sighting for there to be a good mixture of melanin. And when there is, you know they were hired to fill a quota. It’s a weird thing as a POC to walk into a space and realize that you stand out. You can read further about my thoughts on that in my other story “Being The Only POC At Fitness Classes.”

When we walked into the main space we were notified there would be filming on-site. I made sure to stay out of frame and just be observant and enjoy the production they put together. Minutes after, the same man at the front who let me in asked me to wait outside since they were still filming. This is what really set me off.

As I respectfully stepped outside to wait, I noticed there was really no one else in line; maybe 2-3 other women dressed to attend the event. I got irritated because not only was the production time is off, but most importantly, thinking about my experience in retail, the cardinal rule is making sure that no matter what, you stay a positive reflection of the brand and make sure guests always feel welcome. At this point I was thinking of ways in my head that the staff could have been more accommodating. Such as, asking if I’d like a drink since I’m early, or simply offering me a water (they had a ton), apologizing for the schedule change, or kindly asking me to wait a few minutes.

What I mean by Retail 101 is if the customer’s request is not available, then offer additional options, and make an effort to keep them interested. Be warm, welcoming, inviting and accommodating. Every ounce of the customer experience you put out is a reflection of your brand. From decor, staffing, service, to how clean your bathroom is. Always offer a solution.

Most importantly, don’t herd me out the door as if my time is disposable. I understand that I may be just an attendee or potential Instagram post, but at the very least, try to make it seem like you want me here.

After internalizing all of this, I decided to leave. As I stepped out I noticed there were about 4 other women waiting to enter. That’s when I realized its 5:19 and they sure as hell are not starting on time.


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