I went to the Hay Festival for the second time this year. It’s only an hour from my house, through fantastic countryside (which feeds the soul) and stimulating to the mind. Mark Stevenson was very interesting in his view of how things can change for the better, revealing, for example, how plants are being re-engineered to use less water so that we will have enough food to cope with another two billion people. The best bit is listening to the questions which are so insightful. I feel that we’re not the only ones who think about how the world can be better and are willing to debate this.
And it’s well organised too. 7 speaker venues arranged round two courtyards, interspersed with good quality refreshments and a few stalls. Talks start simultaneously, last an hour and there is a half hour gap until the next ones.
But the interesting thing is the car parking. Yes really. If you haven’t been before, as was the case for me last year, then the only car parking shown on the website is in Clyro. It’s a hamlet off the Hay by-pass, with a very efficient courtesy bus, costs six quid and has a 20 minutes transit time. But on arrival at the site, you’ll notice a car park immediately opposite the entrance, run by MacMillan Cancer Care. So the next time that I went I used that. Approaching it, I couldn’t help notice an advert for a £4 car park, run by MacMillan. There was a person at the gate waving me in which was most helpful. But I was surprised when I was asked for six pounds, when the advert said four. “That’s the other car park down the road” was the reply. On walking out of the car park to the festival I saw a £6 sign for the field I was parked in and a smaller sign for the cheaper car park. On the third attempt I got to the four pound car park. I could have spent £2 celebrating the fact (although £2 doesn’t buy you a coffee on the site) but I was determined not to be manipulated any further.
Commerce is about maximising returns and persuading people to buy as much as possible for as much as possible. To save £2 I had to get more information, about the alternative car parks, and then conquer my urge for emotional connection, by turning my face from the friendly arm waving me in. As an entrepreneur, usually in sales mode it’s easy to succumb to the emotional connections and grab information in the ways which you hope your customers will, even when you’re the buyer. As with a lot of emotional issues the best thing you can do is recognise the feeling of being sold to and observe it. This will help you to be a more dispassionate buyer, keep questioning the seller and so ensure that you’re getting the best possible service for the lowest possible price. After all they are the expert in what they have and you need to know what you’re getting in return for you hard earned revenue. It’s always easier to spend than to earn.