It's very hard to craft a truly breathtaking experience. To make someone go home feeling like they've witnessed something unique and spectacular. Especially in London where there are so many options to choose to spend their money on. So what do you do when things go wrong?
With Alex Godfrey
Alex and I met many moons ago when I had my own freelance design business and worked a lot with bands. We met through mutual musician friends and I knew he was a keeper. Alex writes for publications like the Guardian, Empire, The Telegraph and GQ.
I had read such incredible reviews of the War of the World's immersive experience that I was uncontrollably excited even though not being a particular superfan of the music or the film. I knew that the experience used VR and holograms and as a tech nerd I was excited to see how these had been employed.
Our experience didn't get off to the best of starts, arriving to find they were running a couple of hours late because of technical glitches earlier in the day. I remembered them saying when I booked that they were trialling the wheelchair accessible version during the day so commending them for this I cut them some slack.
They offered us free food and drink while we waited and I was pleased to see this wasn't just because I was a blogger and was offered to others as well. We weren't in a rush and as Alex and I hadn't seen each other in a few years we valued the time to chat.
They called us to eventually go in, we met the rest of our team and were greeted by a haunted-looking gentleman who told us what we were about to experience would change our lives. He built the drama to a peak so we were all a bit jumpy when a walkie-talkie crackled into life announcing that they would need to reset because of technical difficulties. I felt so bad for the actor who had poured his heart into building the scene for us to have it evaporated with one sentence.
As we went through the experience we had the feeling that things weren't perhaps going to plan. Some of the VR was glitchy or not working and we were left a bit confused about what was actually supposed to be happening.
But here's the strange thing. I've done A LOT of London's big ticket experiences this year and i'm getting quite opinionated about them. But miraculously I still came away from this experience buzzing and highly recommending it to friends. And I wasn't the only one. Our fellow customers were raving about it in the bar afterwards. How on earth had the production company managed that?
I think I know:
1. This experience is awesome. There are some absolutely incredible parts to it where you feel complete dread and the tension of the situation. At one point I actually screamed. Yes that's right, screamed! I'm NOT a screamer. Ever.
2. Using such progressive technology things are likely to go wrong and we just had an unlucky night. If you are not going to put yourself out there and do something technically different then you're never pushing boundaries. This experience is undoubtedly a spectacle, the five-star reviews are testament to that.
3. The way they've dealt with my questions since the event has been truly exemplary. Asking to speak to the duty manager Sam was met with complete understanding and he happily talked me through how the experience should have been and offered me tickets to return. I can tell Sam was genuinely passionate about what they had created and so desperately wanted me to experience it at its best. Looking at the reviews I see they respond to even the tiniest query with the same care and attention.
It's easy to create an event. It's more challenging to create an experience that makes an impact. It's even harder to create something groundbreaking. But I really think these guys have done that.
'There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.' Brene Brown