Having staged his first play in 1975, his first commercial play in 1990 and his first play under Roverman Productions in 2008, James Ebo Whyte, affectionately called Uncle Ebo – has immeasurable experience as an event organizer and it is indisputable that, his firm, Roverman Productions is one of the best event-organizing firms in the country.
In an interaction on Peace FM’s ‘Entertainment Review’ show some weeks ago, Uncle Ebo had the opportunity to share his experience in events and how his Production Company is tagged as the best in the business.
In an overly insightful and mindset-altering session, he articulated his thoughts on what event organizations in Ghana must do to elevate the business.
If all event organizers, promoters, patrons and sponsors would understand, assimilate and make an attempt of implementing many of the things he shared, the state of event organization in Ghana would be different – positively!
Customer Service & Respect For Patrons
Uncle Ebo Whyte talked about the lack of proper customer service in the country, an unpleasant situation that eats its way into events, where event organizers do not treat their patrons with the utmost respect.
He stated that event organizers have no respect for what they do, so, they also have no respect for the persons that patronize their events.
He is of the conviction that, when a patron is dissatisfied with one event, that dissatisfaction is translated to all events, because, many patrons do not care about who is producing or directing. Once they have an obnoxious experience with one event, it affects their perception for all events in Ghana.
He also mentioned that, it is important for event organizers to make patrons their topmost priority, because, the success of the event and the eulogy of the event organizer as a good organizer – is heavily dependent on the patrons. The attendance of patrons makes the show and if any event would get rave reviews or negative reviews, it is on the patrons. In essence, it is patrons that make ‘stars’ out of events and the organizers.
The patron is doling out his money to purchase tickets to your event, buy fuel and drive from wherever to the venue, just to add to the success of your event, so, the best the event organizer can do – is let the patron have value for the money and time.
Lack Of Discipline & Consistency
“People would give you whatever they know you would accept,” he said of the dearth of discipline in the event organization.
Putting together an event involves contracting suppliers to provide some essential elements such as sound, light, security, protocol, and artist performance and the canker of indiscipline runs through, starting from that organizer who is supposed to put all the elements together to make an event.
Uncle Ebo was emphatic on the point that, once the event organizer is disciplined in his/her dealings, suppliers of essential elements for the event would also be spot-on in the delivery of their services.
One of the banes of events in Ghana is the late commencement of shows and most often, the excuse given by the organizers is that, patrons do not show up early – and interestingly, this bane has no room in any Roverman Production. So, why do Uncle Whyte and his Roverman posse get it right with the apt timing of their events?
“Patrons buy their tickets and decide when to come for the show. If a patron decides to come at a certain time for an event, why should that be the problem of the organizer? People have all sort of reasons for coming for events – many, not necessarily because of your event. Some come to show off their new outfit, new shoes and kill boredom. As an event organizer, if you start your event on time, make it a habit and get consistent with it and patrons would know the trend and associate with it,” he stated.
Uncle Ebo is absolutely right! There’s nowhere on the ticket or any moment in the commercial of the event which stated that, the event/show will start when everybody is seated, so, it quite unfathomable why many event organizers would always want to wait till the auditorium is full before they start?
Going The Extra Mile For The Patron
For most event organizers in Ghana, the routine is simple; get a venue, get suppliers to provide the technical detail, protocol and security at the gates and that’s it – we have a show; not for Uncle Ebo Whyte.
“When somebody comes to your event, he/she is your guest, so you treat the fellow as such. When patrons come to your event, they are honouring you, so, you must also bend backward to make them feel comfortable,” he said.
In a bid to make patrons feel at home when they go for the events, Uncle Ebo Whyte and his group do what seemed like the impossible, something events organizers do not give a hoot about.
“For all our events, we take care of the washrooms and deodorize them. We want patrons to enjoy the washrooms in the Theater more than they do the ones in their homes. Events are suppose to provide an avenue for the patron to relax and de-stress and not add on to his/her stress, so, that purpose would be defeated if a patron walks to the washroom and gets offended by what he/she sees.”
This revelation is eye-opening and it is no wonder that, in the past 9 years of Roverman Productions, it remains the only event which is most patronized consistently. Why won’t it be heavily attended? When one gets so much comfort in the main auditorium and can virtually ‘sleep’ in the washroom? Way to go!
The protocol unit of Roverman Productions is unequivocally the best in the business and that feat comes as no fluke. The level of respect exhibited to patrons, the extension of courtesy, mannerism, etiquette and approach by the ushers and usherettes at any Ebo Whyte play are overly impressive.
Even when some recalcitrant and undisciplined patrons flout the rule that patrons should not capture any moment of the production on video, ushers and usherettes have a calmative and genial way of dealing with such situations. No yelling, no tense confrontations, and less banter and the job is done.
Here is the secret:
“I have 120 staff, 25 are on stage, and the rest will be ushering. There are lawyers, business executives and other professionals who assume the role of ushers at the events. They are well trained in that department and undergo supervision in the execution of their duties. When an usher does mess up with a patron, he/she is not given the chance to do assume the role gain. The patron is a guest to our home and we treat the fellow as such – with respect and honour,” Uncle Ebo Whyte emphasized.
Treating Events As Business
He talked about the lukewarm attitude some event organizers attach to the work, their refusal to treat it as business – a trait that permeates in the entire arts & entertainment industry.
In deed, Uncle Ebo Whyte is again, right on that score. There are many brilliant concepts that were staged once and fizzled out and there are also some popular events that have gone into oblivion, all because, the persons responsible for such events failed to see such products as business. They take their patrons, sponsors and even their won events for granted, not treating it as a business entity that must have a business plan to ensure its sustenance and longevity.
He shared this advice; “Event-organizing firms must be focused and serious-minded. They must treat the events as business like the Telecommunication Companies and the Banks run their respective business.”
By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo, www.entertainmentgh.com