Monday, March 16, 2009
Houston we have a problem....
Today we went to Space Center Houston.. Man this place touches me way down in my inner child. I grew up watching people blast off in to space to try and get us on the moon. I was a little over a year old when Yuri Gagarin had made history by being launched in to space.. Alan Shepherd made the trip not to long after that and yada yada yada when I was 9 Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon (see more here)... it was that yada yada yada that was a part of my growing up.. tang, the space race, coupling that space race with the cold war, bomb shelters in peoples back yards and the fear of just what the russians would do to us from the moon if they got there before us made the whole space thing very important to almost all of us growing up back then.
I also used to lay on my back in the yard at night and use our binoculors to look at the moon.. believe it or not it always looked closer and more detailed than by the naked eye..
I had a map of the universe when I was in first grade and I would pull it out and look at it over and over again. I used in school for presentations several different times as I grew up. Space, NASA, all that stuff was just a part of me as I was growing up...
Also..schools in the Houston area went to NASA often.. Not every year but we went pretty often.
So...going to Space Center Houston today was something I was really looking forward to. The last time I had been to NASA.. it was just the Johnson Space Center.. there was no Space Center Houston. I had heard a lot of good things about Space Center Houston (SCH) so I was looking forward to today..on many levels.. I had a real good time.. you can see the pics I took here.
Unfortunately... it wasn't nearly as good as when it was just JSC... probably because I imagine how great it could be. Basically me and my family stood in line for over 3 hours today to go on 2 tours.. shop a little and go home. I studied recreation and parks in college and so did Donna. Donna even worked at Disney in Florida and knows how important it is for things to go right for there to be a quality experience for visitors....guests..whatever term you want to give to those poor suckers that come in the gate in the morning and hand you a pretty decent stack of cash to spend the day on your property..
Here are just a few things that need some attention Houston...
Tour guides or hosts do not need to be texting friends while guiding your group.
Tour guides or hosts should not make sarcastic comments about the place they work while on duty in front of guests.
Tour guides or hosts should not bob their heads to the music on the guide video no matter how sick they are of "The flight of the bumblebee".
Videos used on tour buses should be less then 10 years old.
Audio files used on tour trams should be less than 10 years old.
Security screening should be done at the beginning of the que line while people are waiting to get on trams..not at the end of the line so that people are delayed boarding their trams.. It must have taken at least 15 minutes (Donna's guess.. I think more) to load a freakin tram.. 3 minutes tops to get everyone on...maybe a tad more if you have physically challenged guests. This was insane!!
Don't tell people to return to the tram at the end of a tour and then tell them they should be sitting in the same seats they left AFTER they return to the tram.
If you are going to have flight simulators in the flight simulator part of your facility you should have more than 2 of the 10 working.
We didn't get to see anything else because it took so freakin' long to do these two tours. I'm sure I would have seen more that needs attention.
I know that JSC specializes in rocket science.. but this isn't rocket science.. it's hospitality, expectations, follow-up, leadership and respect....but then again this is a government agencey (NASA) and I'm sure SCH is the lowest bidder.. I really don't know how this was put together...it could be so much better..
and bobble head host told us today they were only expecting 6000 guests but would have over 8000 tomorrow with all the parking lots full including the staff parking lot.. good luck folks..the tram lines don't go too fast...and the security people that are going through your stuff and scanning you with a hand held metal detector are in no rush..which wouldn't matter except that the tram is waiting on you and the 80+ people behind you to get on... yawn..
I really hope to go back some time soon so I can spend more time in the main facility and skip the tours because they took forever but it was what I wanted to do today. I didn't get to look at any space capsules up close like I have every time I've been to JSC. I didn't get to see any rocks like every time I've been to JSC. Again.. it was the choices we made, they were long slow choices with a lot of standing still but I'm ok with that.
I'm not mad..I love the place.. I want to see more.. I just know with some minor changes that would cost nothing so many more people could be serviced with no extra effort put fourth by any of the underpaid, under motivated hosts on staff.