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“Much Mixed Emotion”

Hult Center for the Performing Arts
Ranked #11 of 93 things to do in Eugene
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: The Hult Center, located in Eugene, Oregon, is home to 7 local Resident Companies and many other performance groups in our community. With our 2498 seat Silva Concert Hall and more intimate 458 seat Soreng Theater, we have a variety of performances throughout the year create entertaining and enriching experiences for our community.
Reviewed December 12, 2012

Eugene is blessed to have the rich flow of arts and culture that it has - at least for a town its size. And the Hult Center would be a magnificent facility for delivery of those arts and culture no matter where it was located. But the Hult has a rough edge - customer service.

I spent my life working in customer service - maybe that's the problem - but I know that a business that depends on customer satisfaction must have an ongoing process for measuring customer satisfaction, and another for bringing ongoing change to those pieces that don't make the cut. I don't see much evidence at the Hult that these processes are alive and well.

A few examples: a nice element of the Hult's programming is the well done pre-concert lectures which take place in the Studio downstairs an hour before the evening's performance - it would be wonderful if the Hult would open prior to these lectures starting, but I've yet to find an open door from any garage access that opens earlier than 7pm on the nose. If one rushes, upon entry, down to the studio, the lecture will always be started already, and interestingly, the room will be filled with listeners - how did they get in? Apparently, there is an access to the Hult which DOES open prior to 7pm, but those who have parked in the Hult garage are just out of luck ( my guess is that this weirdness has much to do with the fact that if you come early to the Hult's parking garage, you don't pay a $5 fee). But there is no clue to this mystery noted on any of the locked doors, nor will one find the subject addressed on the Hult's website – why not?

Another annoyance area is ticket buying - I know the world is all about inventing new ways to increase profits, but whatever happened to buying a ticket at face value? Yes, I know this is a fact of life these days, but that doesn't mean I have to like it! I recently bought 2 tickets to a Hult performance online - I saw no way there to select the best remaining seats in my chosen section (if there is a way to do so online, there are no suggestions as to how) and it should not have been surprising when I discovered that the seats the computer selected for me where in row 1! Unless these seats were the last available in this section, the computer had lied to me, for it had offered to get me the 'best' seats left available - and front row seats have never been best in any book. Why?

I called the ticket office for assistance - were these actually the last tickets available in this section? No, they were not. Well then, I'd like to exchange them for seats further back. The Hult's ticket tech then spent 10 minutes trying to convince me that I shouldn't exchange these seats, including telling me that I'd now pay an 'exchange fee' for doing so. Throughout this entire process, I never felt like I, the ticket buyer, was in control of this experience - rather, it felt as if I'd exchanged being manipulated by a machine to being manipulated by a human. Not pleasant.

The issue of the Hult's customer service attitude reminds me much of that of banks in our nation. Banks are engaged in the difficult process of re-inventing the meaning of customer service, so that as it changes what it does and how it does it for its own convenience, it can continue to insist that it is actually improving customer service. This, for instance, makes it possible for banks to move from personal teller service to ATMs (to save $ of course) and then later to begin to charge for ATM service (because it is somehow a value added customer service). I get the same feeling whenever I deal with the Hult.

Having spent my life in the non-profit world, I'm well aware of the non-profit disease of expecting their customer base to forgive them simply because they are non-profit. And why not? As the Hult notes again and again in its PR materials, it only receives about half its revenues from ticket sales – the rest must come from fund raising. Somehow this translates to shifting the customer service measure to the donor base, and hoping that the ticket buyer will understand the benign neglect.

Maybe I'm in the minority, perhaps the silent minority, but I think the Hult administration needs to begin to give equal consideration to both donors and ticket buyers to achieve maximum potential. I have every intention to continue attending the Hult's fine performances, but I'll continue to look for evidence that customer service is climbing up on their short list of priorities (including an improvement in the quality of the wines served in the lobby!).

Thank drfugawe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (160)
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114 - 118 of 160 reviews

Reviewed December 11, 2012

This Center has class, character, and charm. Almost every seat is a good seat. I saw Tap Dogs there and a couple of dance performances. Top Notch showcase.

Thank Susan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 15, 2012

I love The Hult Center, the productions are very well done and I love the architecture of the building on the inside so much I like to sit and look at it whilst waiting to go into the theater. It is Eugene's GEM and I Love to go to a variety of shows.

Thank Ann B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 10, 2012

I actually have not attended anything at the Hult Center in years, but I remember the one's I did attend fondly. Beautiful place, awesome facility and great variety of entertainment.

Thank gamayinda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2012

We saw Madame Butterfly here, I was very impressed with the production, set design, caliber of artists and general quality of the experience. I have attended other performances, but this one was the most memorable.

Thank Ronda W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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