Although the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Las Vegas was, despite any positive spin attempted by Competitor Group, a fiasco and #EpicFail, I didn’t feel right just leaving a negative review and moving on. One runner described the marathon as “… being like you broke up with a long-term girlfriend. For days you can’t stop talking about it to anyone who will listen because your expectations were so high for the relationship.”
But there is hope for the RnR Las Vegas. It will depend on what actions they take next. If anyone has any further suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’d like to hear it. Maybe Competitor Group will listen. Their actions in the coming days will show just how serious they are, and just how much they actually listen to their customers. Then, as consumers, we can decide whether or not we wish to support the organization in the future. I would like to do that, but it will depend on their actions going forward. So how to fix Las Vegas RnR Marathon? Here is how I would do it:
- Financial Culpability. Saying “We’re sorry” is hollow and worthless without action. When the Iroman series of triathlons had a similar disastrous event, they very quickly issued vouchers for free entries into a future event. Competitor Group now faces a choice: They can take the action of giving something back to the runners who suffered and were injured by the race, or they can take the path of Congress – do a lot of talking, and take no action. The Ironman organization has a lot of respect – Congress does not. Restoring the respect of your customers is paramount.
- Stop Dismissing Your Customers. The actions of the CEO of Competitor Group have raised quite a few eyebrows. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the President, Scott Dickey, has apparently dismissed the runners who brought it to the attention of the community, by saying there are “bigger concerns.” The problem with that is the CEO’s actions show a complete disregard for his customers, and has placed Competitor Group once again on the same level as Congress. Additionally, hundreds of posts on the Facebook page of RnR Las Vegas has people complaining of specific illnesses which are most likely a result of the race. Saying they are “isolated incidents” shows a disconnect at the level of leadership. A level of trust must be re-established between the customer and the corporation. They must do more than use empty words. They must back them up with tangible forms of action.
- Responsible Leadership. I do believe in second chances. While in Japan both the CEO and President would have resigned in disgrace, that might not be necessary here. However, stating, “I take full responsibility” is not actually doing so. Strong, positive actions from the leadership team must be taken quickly to show just what responsibility they have taken. Otherwise, they are the same empty words we get from Congress. The CEO and President of Competitor Group, a for-profit corporation, must answer to their investors (that is the way of business) and to their customers. Just how they will do that will show what leaders they are. At the moment, the investors are happy, and the customer is not.
- Establish a Local Runner Committee to Work with Competitor Group in Las Vegas. I do not know if this was done, or is regularly done, or was even considered. However, it was obvious to me, a non-local runner, that whomever designed the course and post-course layout didn’t have a clue about the unique challenges of the Las Vegas strip, its businesses, and the flow of runners. Establishing an experienced committee of local runners with experience on the challenges faced in a night marathon will help alleviate a lot of potential pitfalls from occuring again. And those runners should be from the 6,000 runners that endured “The Merge” and the other poorly planned, poorly considered potential problems with course design. Blaming, for example, the collapse of corrals on volunteers instead of bad planning is simply failing to take proper responsibility. You can not say “I take full responsibility” and then blame volunteers in the same interview for the problems. Proper planning should know that volunteers are only as good as they are trained, and even at that – you should plan for possible poor execution. In aviation, we have saying: Plan for the worst, hope for the best. It appears that Competitor Group planned for the best, and hoped the worst wouldn’t happen.
- Limit the Size of Next Year’s Event. Now this is taking responsibility and taking firm action. Competitor Group needs to first prove that they can, indeed, put on a good race in Las Vegas with a far more manageable crowd. Once they have re-established the infrastructure, then and only then can they expand the size. They could not handle 44,000 runners. What should the limit be for next year? The answer would be found within a runners committee, and not those looking at only profit. Because if Competitor Group in Las Vegas continues to get poor reviews, eventually it will catch up with them financially.
- Respond to Complaints With Specific Actions. On the facebook page there were numerous complaints and I listed many in a previous blog entry. Competitor Group must publicly, through all forms of media but specifically social media, address those specific complaints with specific rectifying actions that will occur next year, and not dismiss any of them. Just allowing them to be posted isn’t enough. Specific fixes need to be identified, addressed, and public resolutions made.
- Set Realistic Goals for Next Year. Although certain problems are always bound to happen, realistic expectations and goals for next year need to be identified, published, and a system of evaluation established. These items should be made public, with public accountability.