Translate

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Future At Kings Cross, and An Unsatisfactory Reply

On Saturday four of us went to the degree show at St Martin's school of art.   I love degree shows - so full of energy, of ideas, and enthusiasm.  And we wanted to see inside St. Martins' new building. Or is it an old building? Well, it's a regenerated old building, set by the canal in the newly transformed area of Kings Cross. (below)



Here it is, decorated with a silver foil artwork which runs across several neighbouring buildings too.  Most spectacular it is, reflecting the sky and the light and slicing the blackened brickwork into unexpected shapes. I specially liked the bit where the canal curved around, with the narrowboats gliding peacefully by.

.
My favourite section was called "Textile Futures". What was it all about?  I don't know, but the big red banner invited us to come along and see.


The exhibits included Yesenia Thibault-Picazo's  "Craft in the Anthropocene" display.  She has created items intended to resemble geological remains from the "Human Period" - our period - of history, seen from a perspective of long into the future.     Specimens of imaginary fossilised bones, plastics, even mobile phone remains, are made into elegant objets d'art..

I can tell you, the plastics "specimens" were wonderfully squeezy and fabulously coloured!   I've shown them at extra large magnification so you can see the detail.



We also all loved Qian Wang's "Self Medication" - tea-drinking health rituals with beautiful (and eccentric) ingredients. I am sure the look of your infusion is just as important as the taste or what is in it.



The building used to be part of a railway goods yard. The main entrance was a courtyard, now glassed over. You can still see the remains of the whitewashed walls of the now demolished sheds.



I found myself walking over this. I don't know what it is. But the place is an art school, after all.
.

This area of  Kings Cross used to be a nightmare, with grim public housing, grimy burger joints, traffic fumes, noise, boarded up shop fronts.  But in the last five years it turned the corner, and it's now one of London's most interesting and artistic areas, full of wonderful unexpected creative stuff, lots yet to come. How fabulous to see this change.

If you get the chance, go while there are still things to discover, before Starbucks and Gap and the chain stores move in.  And if you want a coffee, try Green and Fortune in the nearby Kings Place concert halll, like we did - YUMMY!


On a less positive note, and I've had a response from Legoland Windsor. It's here,  and, not surprisingly, it reflects some of what I said in this post   

You might already know by now that I don't think it's part of their business strategy to invest in giving their guests the best possible time.  Despite this, they do invest in other things. In offering various ticket discounts, so people feel they're getting a bargain, so they feel a bit grateful.  On making journalists and bloggers feel like VIPs, so the company can quote their enthusiastic praise to get good publicity.    And they spent a fortune on getting and promoting the Lego brand name, which many people love so much that they don't want to criticise it.

And that strategy works.  Legoland Windsor is very busy and makes lots of money, and since the park's owners are a finance company, they are, by that standard, succeeding.



Despite this, I think tourism businesses should factor the customer experience in their calculations and place at least some value on whether guests have a nice time.     In the picture above, the  person who put their child's  teddy on the Lego model wanted it to be fun, and  I gave Legoland Windsor a lousy review, because I felt they really didn't care if anyone had fun or not.   The kids cried,  we missed almost everything, we were thirsty, hungry, the staff didn't care and the adults felt stressed and ripped off - BUT we came, we bought,  and we paid that £3 car parking fee just as much as if we'd been happy.

Do you think I'm being a sentimental idealist about this, I wonder?  

53 comments:

  1. I think your view of Legoland deserves support. In my view if you are providing a facility like that you should be doing so to entertain and it obviously wasn't that. You aren't a sentimental idealist at all - just a dissatisfied customer. Legoland needs a kick up the backside or it will end up alienating everyone and getting such a reputation that people simply won't visit it.
    I love that silver foil artwork at Kings Cross.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Blimey, that’s King’s Cross?
    It was a station we used a lot when we lived in North London. I remember all the ‘working girls’ and their customers, the dirt and grime, the shabbiness and the nasty caffs in the area very well.

    A sentimental idealist about wanting decent service and value for money? Good grief, woman, absolutely not!

    ReplyDelete
  3. They really blew you off in that letter. Too bad. It seemed to me that many, if not all, of your concerns were valid and you shouldn't have been dismissed so readily.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think their letter was a bunch of nicely worded BS.........

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting post. I like the first part, wonderful stuff, the last not so much. No, you are not just being sentimental (although sentimentality is not as bad as some assume) and I agree with you that commercial places ought to think more about the folk who make their existence possible and pay their wages. Shame ..... Minerva ~

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is nice to see some of the rougher areas being revitalized--I'd love to roam around this artsy area if I ever get over there again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. No, I do not think you are being sentimental at all. You and your family deserve a better experience and response for the money and time spent at Legoland, and if those in charge cannot see that then they do not deserve your patronage or that of others.

    I think the ideas about customer service have shifted, and obviously from this example, not for the better. Tell everyone with whom you come into contact about your response from Legoland. Perhaps then people will avoid it and the shift in revenue will speak more loudly than your letter to them.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You're not a sentimental idealist, although you may be fighting an uphill battle with the conglomerate of Lego(land). It was a pretty tepid letter. One can't expect them to commit to the changes in one letter, but it didn't really sound like they were even going to think about it. I don't think you are off base.

    But the exhibit and the wonderful revamped old building did not disappoint. I loved the specimen idea -- very clever. And the tea. And the whole idea of it. Nice post! Fun event and diversion!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, the silver foil looks stunning on the buildings, I enjoyed seeing that!

    ReplyDelete
  10. NOT a sentimental idealist at all - it dismays me to see how much customer experience/service has fallen off company radar screens. It makes places that are able to offer superb customer service all that much more special.

    As for this lovely degree show, those 2 displays are fantastic! (The Age of Human and Tea displays). How creative and relevant to our everyday lives.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The letter in reply was a cynical and obviously standard, well-rehearsed response. As Scriptor said you are a dissatisfied customer who has pointed out exactly why you are dissatisfied along with many other on TripAdvisor. The customer falls at the feet of the Venture Capitalist though and whilst they make money they will continue with pat replies. 'Twas ever thus.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Before Starbucks and Gap and the chain stores move in ... " That is so true. I understand that globalisation has many benefits (I wouldn't be in Japan without it), but I hate it when everything starts looking the same.

    That first photo confused me: I couldn't figure out whether it was glass, light projections, a reflection in a window. Tin foil! It's just tin foil! ^^

    ReplyDelete
  13. Looks like such a great place to visit. I love the foil art on the building. That tea is absolutely beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You are completely, 100%, etcetcetc right about Legoland. For 20 years I was the artist in a booth at an art fair. Yes, we were the ones there to make money from sales. The hands down easiest way to achieve that end was to believe the fair attendees came to have a good time, and it was our job to see they did.
    About the foil roof lines. I could not have imagined that. Wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Loved Kings Cross.....I'm delighted the area is looking up at last.
    As to Legoland the reply is on the lines of any complaint you make to the corporates...they do not give a stuff about the clients...so the only thing you can do to try to save others from disappointment is to speak up about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love love the silver foil buildings. I didn't know Kings Cross was that bad, I know about it from book and movies only.
    I don't understand Legoland what a huge mess !

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
  17. Absolutely not, I totally agree with you, and it's just another sad sign of the times. Companies like them want our money period and like many these days it's like it's all about them getting what they want, without any customer pleasing. But, in the end, one day when we the customer disappears, what will they do then? I don't understand why Lego has to charge so much money for their plastic bits. I am a fan of Lego and yes, I too build with my children and their children and even by myself. But gee whiz the cost for sets especially is really unbelievable!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh I love those revamped buildings with the silver foil!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jenny,
    I believe that this is just an evasion to show how they care about visitors.
    the Art School is very multi-faceted and there is something to see and ponder.
    Have a nice weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I enjoyed your tour of St. Martin's school of art. I especially like the idea of turning an old, drab place into a gem that can be enjoyed by the masses. It's amazing what artistic imagination and ingenuity can do.

    I'm surprised that you finally heard from Legoland Windsor (I think it took them awhile to figure out what to say to you). Hopefully your negative review has opened their eyes. Unfortunately, my tempermental computer wouldn't open the file for Legoland's response, so I couldn't read it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I don't supposed you're surprised at the excuses produced by Legoland - they seem to be saying we're not making any changes on your account (ie the customer) because we've had great feedback from people we've paid to give us great feedback ...

    How much more fun you had in Kings Cross. I so love the silver foil across the buildings. (I went through Kings Cross on my way to Cambridge last week - wish I'd known about this! All I saw was road works.)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good for CSM - what a wonderful new home they've found for themselves! Looks brilliant.

    And at least Legoland got back to you. Time will tell whether they truly up their game in response though, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  23. 'Art?' Hmmmm........

    Legoland, I'm with you. They make money, they don't care.
    Your review was good.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You're not a sentimental idealist. I've been to Legoland once and I very much doubt I'll ever go back there.

    However, after reading this post I would like to go back to King's Cross :-) x

    ReplyDelete
  25. I like the silver foil effect! The Legoland response doesn't surprise me at all -they would say that wouldn't they? At least they bothered to reply.

    ReplyDelete
  26. ugh i agree on factoring in the customer experience...smiles..they will learn...

    what a cool exhibit...esp to think of what might be a fossil in the future...our history and how they will judge us by it....what a neat place....

    ReplyDelete
  27. Investment people don't start to listen to customer feedback until they begin to lose money. Until enough people get the idea that the place isn't what it's hyped to be, and quit coming, they won't change. It's why you don't sell out to investment people, if you want to keep control of your name and the quality associated with it.

    King's Cross was a place to be avoided the last time i was in London, so i'd love to come visit! Unfortunately, it will probably be after the chains have noted it, as international travel is off the table for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Jenny, the arts exhibition looks fascinating and I love that building! So typical of old canal side warehouses (even if it wasn't one). As for Legoland, as long as they are pulling in the money….

    ReplyDelete
  29. So sorry that you and family did not enjoy your day out at Legoland Windosr.
    The long letter that they sent still did not offer to make things right, for you the customer that had the bad experience. Not good enough. It's the kids who suffer the most in these instances.
    Shame on them. That letter was full of crapola, and that's putting it nicely.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Interesting combination of old buildings and new art :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. The silver foil art installation looks intriguing; thank you for showing pictures of it. By just reading a description I would have found it hard to imagine.

    The Legoland letter is indeed a sad example of how honest customer feedback is NOT taken seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I love when they refurbish areas that had gone bad in towns. Looks like an interesting place to visit now.
    Legoland--you had every right to complain and they did just blow you off. Sounded like a response from a politician--whole lot of nothing with a smile. Jerks!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I think the reply from Legoland is verbose and dismissive, but as you say what else do you expect from a company that is only focused on the "bottom line". On a more positive note, the exhibition and public spaces which have been created at St Martin's School of Art look interesting and enjoyable. What a complete contrast to the visit to Legoland.

    ReplyDelete
  34. The letter bugged me, I felt the way they said "blog" a few times was patronising. I have to say having been to other events in London like the 02, Wimbledon etc. that the £3 cost for the car park was very cheap! But the other things you mentioned I'm in total agreement with you.

    ReplyDelete
  35. What an amazing place the art center is. I must admit, the outside decor of the buildings took a bit of getting used to but then it started growing on me. The letter from Legoland was a winner. They clearly took your comments to heart and had nothing but positive response to you. Very kind of them.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have never been to teh Art center and your post made me want to go asap, so thank you.
    As for Legoland, well, I believe that once a company becomes too big, it can not maintain the same level of service. maybe it is what is happening here?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you for sharing your life by way of pictures and words. You have a brilliant way of showing your world!

    ReplyDelete
  38. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I read your Legoland experience … it seems like they get swarms of people coming through and have taken things considerably for granted. What a disappointment when customer service is at such a low ebb. On the other hand, it was wonderful to see creativity bloom at St. Martins. It is always so reassuring when the arts community has a chance to speak in unique ways about our culture.

    ReplyDelete
  40. The silver on the buildings is very interesting and unexpected. I enjoy outdoor installations like that. Sounds like you had a better day at the school of art than you did in Lego Land.

    Darla

    ReplyDelete
  41. About the art show. thanks a lot for your photos. I, too, love end-of-the-year art showcases and was privileged to organise one in my borough when I used to work as an education project manager for an arts company.

    Re LEGOLAND, you're not being sentimental. When I was a travel consultant and tour-operator the customer came first and foremost. Easier for independent companies to adopt this policy than for chains or big companies like Lego. But if enough people demand that they be treated like human beings, they might be swayed. Here's hoping with you! :-)

    Have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hi Jenny

    Thanks for writing about King's Place at King's Cross. I wasn't aware of its existence as I left London in 1997. Can't believe that's getting on for 20 years ago now. So many things have changed since then. But King's Place is now on my list for my next visit.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I used to walk through this area in the 1970s when Isobel lived in North London. It was grim back then but it looks lovely now. I need to visit London again soon and then I will heck it out.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Always inspiring to see former industrial sites and/or wastelands turned into innovative and creative work and play spaces. Much the same was done for the art school (Emily Carr University of Art and Design) in Vancouver and will be done yet again on another reclaimed former industrial site. But as you say, as the neighbourhood improves, in come the slick businesses to detract from the unique feel. Still, overall, a winning situation.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I find Yesenia Thibault-Picazo's "Craft in the Anthropocene" very thought provoking. Yeah, maybe that's what will be seen in the far far future.

    ReplyDelete
  46. RE: Legoland

    I haven't yet visited it so I probably shouldn't comment, but from what you've said, it seems to be part of the modern day "bread and circuses" approach as used by the ancient Romans. Depressing to think how little we've all evolved as a species! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  47. I just remembered that I owed you a response to the tautology vs pleonasm question. As I recall when I was little, pleonasm had a negative connotation as in when someone said: "He repeated the question over and over again." The word "repeat" already includes "again" and "over and over". With tautology it's different as in "widow woman". It's a widow, so it's a woman. Not only is it unnecessary, it's rather quite silly. :-) However, I remember cases where pleonasm was encouraged, celebrated even. As in "But, nevertheless", which reinforced the idea that what the person was about to say contradicted what had been said before.

    Languages, huh? Don't you love them? :-)

    Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I'm glad Kings Cross has finally smartened up. It used to be a really depressing area to walk through, as you say full of crummy housing, burger joints etc - not to mention sex workers and drug dealers. It's amazing how quickly an area scrubs up if the political will is there.

    ReplyDelete
  49. It was good that the Leggoland people responded to your criticism favourably, though you felt they never went far enough. Good on you for letting them know how you felt. It was to their benefit as well as for you to express your feelings. Let's hope they follow through. A free invitation to you to re-visit would have been nice... - Dave

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hi Jenny, I really enjoyed having a look at the art school through your eyes. It's something I'd love to spend time at. Those fossils were quite something and I thought the tea infusion was pretty enough to drink ;D)
    It was very interesting to see, and read about, the transformation of Kings Cross. A lot of thought has been put into it.

    That letter was a complete fob off. They got their money and don't care about anything else, simple as that. They made sure to mention the cheaper rates you 'enjoyed' first off as though you should be grateful. It all kind of reminds me of the "Fawlty Towers" shows.
    They forget one thing though - the power of the word and nowadays it spreads fast world-wide. There are many people crossing Leggoland off their list of tourist spots in favour of better value-for-money places.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Thank you so much for the comments. I will find it a bit hard to comment over the next few days as my internet access is a bit strange and my phone doesn't work properly with Blogger. But I'll get around and read blogs, even if I don't make comments.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hi Jenny,

    That's sad that Lego couldn't even respond decently. I've made many mistakes in life and have learned from some of them. One lesson is not trying to justify yourself when the decent response is just to say "I'm sorry you had a terrible time."

    On a happier note, I loved the jagged foil over St. Martin's buildings. Plays tricks with your mind, like a Magritte painting where the sky is set within a solid or some Escher illusion sketch. Also really liked the plastics exhibit, particularly the "Mobile phone sediment." That would take most of the earth at the rate we discard our phones for upgrades!

    Jenny

    ReplyDelete

Blog Archive