As you all know, I attended the Sundance Film Festival last week in Park City, Utah.  Every venue/theatre is staffed with volunteers. These are individuals, mostly from the Park City/Salt Lake City area who give of their time to work at the festival. They assist with everything from helping visitors get on the right shuttle, to working concessions, to keeping the lines moving, to helping find empty seats in the theatre. These individuals are UNPAID and, in my opinion, did a fantastic job – especially when dealing with people who felt they were somehow “owed” something.  While at the festival I saw some interesting things, not just in the movies, but playing out in front of me. Following is one of those situations.

At each movie theatre there are seats that are reserved. These are saved for the director, producer, and/or other “important” people. At the end of a screening the director and/or producer would go to the front of the theatre to engage in a Q&A session with the audience. Thus, it made sense they have seats with easy access. At this one theatre, a gentleman was being seated in the reserved section when he told the volunteer that he wanted the aisle seat. Upon being told that the aisle seat and the seat next to it were saved for the director and his wife, the man continued to be upset. The female volunteer told him in an even, yet professional tone, that she understood his request, but reiterated that the director of the film was coming and was expecting to have that seat. The man finally relented and sat in the third seat from the aisle.

I don’t know the whole reason for why this man felt he had to have an aisle seat or why he didn’t think the director of the film deserved it. What I did see in this situation was that the volunteer acted in a completely professional manner throughout the entire interaction. Through this interaction she used public relations skills to temper the situation, rather than allowing it to escalate and make all patrons in the theatre aware of what was going on. I only saw this because it was three rows directly in front of me.

I am sure there were plenty of other incidents like this one that played out during the two weeks of the festival. My questions for you are, if you were in this situation or one like it, how would you have reacted? How would you employ your public relations skills to not only defuse the situation, but to keep the patron happy?

Please note: Respond directly to this post in the comments section. Your responses must be submitted by noon, Friday, Feb. 10, in order to receive credit. Also, leave your name at the end of your post so I know who wrote the comment.


P.S. The photo is mine. 🙂