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Saturday, November 22, 2008

7 Deadly Sins of a Carnival Band....

1. Not delivering the costume a masquerader has paid for:
(i) On time, that is having masqueraders collect costumes after the advertised distribution date including collecting on the road Monday or Tuesday.

(ii) In totality, with pieces of said costume missing; this includes a non existent bra, headpiece, belt, necklace when one receives their costume.

(iii) At all, meaning that there is no costume when the masquerader goes to collect because the costume was inadvertently sold, never made or distributed to other masqueraders who encountered the situation at (ii).

Saved- if any of the above mentioned instances should occur, it is good PR for the band to alert masqueraders of the issue before collection of costume; call or email the masquerader to let them know the costume delivery date has been changed. In addition try the utmost best to deliver said costume on the new date specified or if that is not possible deliver costumes to masqueraders homes/specified location (depending on just HOW late the costume becomes available). Lastly, compensate masquerader for the stress of missing costume or costume piece without being asked (read cuss out at the mas camp); the refund should be automatic and accompanied with an apology.

2. Costume looks nothing like the prototype. Sometimes bands may have to amend costumes owing to unavailability of materials, so what the masquerader ends up with is an altered costume, different from the one they registered for. Also, sometimes you get the costume that looks like the prototype but a scaled down version; less beads, less feathers and smaller plumes.

Saved – At best all bands should give masqueraders exactly what was advertised down to the last feather, sequin and bead. IF for some unforeseen reason a change as to be made it is best to, again, let masqueraders know in advance of costume collection that a change was necessary. In good faith if the change is a drastic one that completely alters the look of the costume, offer the masqueraders options. For instance the masquerader can be offered another section of their choosing. Some changes are purely superficial and the look of the costume is not affected, for example the bra used in the costume design is altered, a simple advance “heads up” would suffice in this case, since everything else remains the same and the end result is the costume looks the same. I know that with some bands smaller bra cup sizes get the imported bras while the larger sizes get bras made locally to accommodate the various sizes; once the costume looks the same as advertised this is really not an issue.

3. Food and drinks run out on the road or dining options advertised never materialize. Sadly this happens often and not too many masqueraders complain as it is easier, when hungry, to simply look for alternative meals when you already paid for what is supposed to be included!

Saved – The solution to this one is pretty straight forward, DO NOT SKIMP ON FOOD AND DRINKS. Make sure that stocks on drinks are replenished throughout the day and that there are enough meals catered to masqueraders, security staff and band employees who all partake of the food. When you list out a host of items in the all inclusive package make sure and deliver everything including the “snacks” that sometimes never appear since you think we masqueraders are not paying attention!

4. Pricing yourself out of the game. We all know that SOME bands can set their prices at a premium and still get costumes sold, however when those very said bands do not raise costume prices exorbitantly one can gather that they as well are aware that there is a thing as pricing the costume TOO HIGH. As a consequence new bands pricing themselves on par with established bands can be a death sentence.

Saved – Set aside the anticipation of making loads of money right out the gate and pass on the savings on imported costumes and sponsors to masqueraders so that the lower prices can be an incentive to bring them in especially if no one is registering in your band; red flag!

5. Inferior quality and costume construction. This has killed many a section leader in the past. Call a certain name associated with a section and masqueraders will give them a pass if their costumes have known to be shoddy, fall apart on the road or just plain cheaply constructed!

Saved – Invest in workmanship that can deliver; isn’t this the reason given for having costumes made in China and India? Also quality control along the production process to ensure that the final product is up to standard, providing that the band leaders HAVE a standard at all. Some of them price talks and they would prefer to go with the cheapest rather than the best.

6. Sizing out masqueraders. Catering to only certain sizes drastically reduces your market and size discrimination attracts the worst publicity ever!

Saved – Be open to each and every masquerader regardless of bra or belt size even if this means facilitating the decoration of masquerader’s own bra though. Honestly though, most masqueraders would prefer to not have the hassle of looking for their own bra and would appreciate the band simply providing their size.

7. Not acknowledging the power of the masquerader to make or break you. Today’s masquerader is being asked to spend a lot of money on costumes and with that comes a certain level of demanding service and excellence that we have already paid for. We expect that after we keep up our end of the contract, paying for our costume, that band leaders keep up their end by providing that long list of amenities, in addition to the costume, that every single one of them has posted on their website.

Saved – There are cardinal rules to ensuring faithful masqueraders, customer satisfaction and catering to your masqueraders when it comes to Carnival bands:

1. Communication, communication and communication! Masqueraders like to be kept in the loop and they also like to be able to call, visit a website or email for answers to queries and concerns. Open communication!

2. Service with a smile, and yes, we can hear you smiling over the phone! The worst is to call a mas camp and have to deal with not only an ignorant employee but also one with an attitude. Remember, the customer is always right!

3. Appreciate your masqueraders. This is where little things like a really nice goody bag or providing Monday wear or setting up a costume adjustment center or throwing in discounts to fetes really make your masquerader feel “special”. And yes there are some masqueraders who do not care about all the “frills and extras” but the very fact that it is there for them NOT to care about in the first place is what matters!

4. Give the masquerader what was advertised and paid for; such a simple feat that only a few bands ever seem to get right!
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