The Tale of the Christmas Laser Lights: Spotlight on Delivery
Big celebratory events are always at risk of failing to fulfil their hyped-up promise. London experienced this so it is said when they tried one year to introduce laser lights for the Oxford Street Christmas illuminations. How much more embarrassing it would be if Liverpool were not to deliver fully on the promise for the celebrations in 2007 and 2008.
Twice in the past fortnight I’ve been in London, a city currently sporting serious Christmas illuminations, and both times I’ve heard from cab drivers the Tale of the Christmas Laser Lights.
The story goes that one year London’s Oxford Street Christmas lights (normally, as this year, fairly predictable arrangements) were redesigned to include lasers. This caused considerable excitement, to all accounts across the globe, and visitors travelled from far and wide to see these splendid displays. The problem, as related by my cab drivers, was however that splendid the lasers were not.
Promise only what you can deliver
Thus, in one case, my taxi driver told me that he had actually attempted to talk a potential visitor out of an expensive ride to see the lasers; but to no avail. His fare’s disappointment was huge, having as it then transpired travelled from abroad to see them, when it became evident to the visitor that these high-tech features of the Christmas illuminations were almost undetectable.
And there’s surely a moral here. If you’re going to talk something up, make sure you can actually deliver it. The story of the Christmas laser lights has clearly become a part of the folk lore of London tourism. It’s evolved, rightly or wrongly, into a benchmark for How Not To Do It.
The lesson for Liverpool
In the next two or three years Liverpool is lined up to deliver enormous celebratory events, firstly, in 2007, for the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the city, and then, in 2008, for the European Capital of Culture Year.
As things stand, few of us are privy to any substantive information about what will happen in Liverpool during these two years (and even fewer of us have been involved in making proposals). All, however, are regaled on a daily basis with tales of how splendidly impressive these signal events will be.
Let’s not forget the moral of the story of the Christmas Laser Lights. A visitior disappointed is a visitor who will very likely remember for many a year to come the time and resources s/he ill-advisedly invested.
Redeeming a nondescript set of annual Christmas illuminations is one thing. Redeeming two very special and critically high profile, but ultimately nondescript, years in a world-renown city such as Liverpool would be on a different scale of significance altogether.