They stood there wearing cool black t-shirts and red mini skirts. A picture of the modern disdainful beauty – thin figure, out-of-bed hairstyle, kohl lined eyes and sulking demeanour. They were what they call in the PR/ Advertising/ Event Management lingo as the ‘Usher Girls’. Dissatisfied as they always are with the outsourcing agencies, the only one thing that the entire Client side agreed to, was the fact that these girls did everything but ‘usher’ the guests in!
Why? I keep wondering (I also wonder why I ask so many whys?). What’s the need of these usher girls? As a concept, per se, it makes sense for lean organisations to hire temporary manpower for one-off events to do the sundry jobs. The entire outsourcing business owes its origins to this reason. But only because most of the world is going for outsourcing, does it become obligatory on big organisations, with more than enough (and potentially good but abominably underused) manpower to get into the same rut?
All said and done, even if you have entered the rat race and got hold of some sassy looking girls to do the ushering job, what exactly should be their work? It’s an important question, especially for the one who pays through one’s nose for hiring these girls (but many employees even from the client company don’t give a damn coz it’s the company’s nose, not theirs, after all). Either way, one would expect these girls to be briefed about the event, and also learn a word or two about the company they seemingly represent. It wouldn’t be asking for the moon to expect these girls to guide the guests in a warm and meaningful way. One is not asking for puppets, one is only asking for a little smile and a little sense. Is this combination impossible to achieve?
One more point. Age-old of course. Do young, slim and merely good-looking girls automatically qualify as hospitable? This question has been thrashed thread-bare in the airline industry to no real conclusion. But let’s look at this through common sense. What are we trying to offer to our guests/ customers? Helpful people to best address their queries or eye-candies to double up as aphrodisiacs? Most event management/ cosmetic based industries will put up a staid defence to this question – why can’t you have both in one? There comes my exact question – what’s the need of having aphrodisiacs in events? Are we assuming that a majority of our audience has roving eyes, or are we trying to influence our audience’s tastes by presenting them with this omnipresent option? With whatever little experience I have, I think the latter is true, since it goes on to be the sole raison d'etre for so many organisations. ‘Your potential horniness is our bread and butter’ – is the undercurrent. So why not feed those instincts and quadruple my profits! Pretty simple equation, isn’t it?
I will stomach even that, since this is the age of freedom. Only wonder if and when those girls will stop commodifying themselves.
Recently, I was present at a typically high-society event liberally splashed with its share of usher girls. Hardly out of college, the girls merrily chatted among themselves, stood as gate-keepers during the assigned hours (the chatting still going on), and hardly greeted any guest. They joked and ate and quipped while the guests groped for directions. Detached in spirit from the hustle and bustle of the event. In one word - Cold.
I happened to pass through the door of two such girls. Giggling, one of them chortled, “oh! That guy?! He f@#$ing pisses me off”.
A rather uninviting way to usher people in, no?