Archive - August 2010

Is Your Conference Planning for Disaster
An Honor to be Nominated for a Blogger Award
Thoughts on the Park 51 Community Center
Forced to use Social Media
Event Ownership

Is Your Conference Planning for Disaster

I just received an email update from one of my event vendors, not a major thing on a typical day but for them, it is an atrocious day. They are experiencing a major power outage at two of their facilities in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. Their phones are out, their email is down, they cannot process orders……the whole shebang.

The email details their situation, what they are doing and the fact that they are still on the ball even though they are not at 100% capacity. The email goes on to detail all of the cell phone numbers for anyone that you may need to contact.

This is the power of thinking ahead. This email was not on a whim, someone put forethought into it and had it ready to go in case there was a situation like this.

What are you doing to reach out to attendees in the event of a major power outage, storm or disaster? Are you prepared, at a moment’s notice to send the emails or text messages that inform them to not head to the convention center? Do you have a plan in case their needs to be an evacuation? Are you ready for the storm on the horizon?

What if they need to reach someone, will they know how to get them or will they be making calls that go unanswered or sending emails that bounce back or sit in limbo while they fester and get angry that they are not getting a response.

Will they be confused about what to do, or will they have a leader to show them the way? Will they be scared or will they have someone with confidence and a call to action?

Knowledge is comfort, if attendees are kept up to date and informed about any situation it will help them get through it, it will help them understand. They may not like what you have to say, but they may need you to say it. You may even save a life.

Plan for success, prepare for failure, it may be the smartest thing you do.

An Honor to be Nominated for a Blogger Award


I am honored to be nominated for an #eventprofs Blog Award in the category of Best Thought Provoking Blog.

I will admit, it is cool to think that some of the finest minds in the industry, people that I look up to and try my best to learn from would think that Event Industry Thoughts would be worthy of being included with this amazing group of meeting and event industry talent. All of the nominees are simply the best of the best.

One look at the entire group and all of the categories and you have your reading schedule set for the day. In fact, if I were going to put up a “best of the web” post, these are the people that I would include, these are some of the people that have helped me expand my horizons.

I will say one thing about the selection committee, they have really made things hard for us (in a good way), I had a hard time choosing who I would pick in all of the categories (including my own).

A final note about who you will choose and what you learn from looking at the list of nominees, I am trying my best to not have this sound hokey……While it is an honor to be nominated, I will not ask for your vote, I would simply ask that you vote for who you think is the best in every category and that may or may not be Event Industry Thoughts……Don’t get me wrong, it would make my month to win, but if there is someone in my category that is more deserving, then that is who you should vote for.

What I hope that you will do is take a few minutes out of your day and visit every blog on the list and read at least one post, what you may find is that you discover a new idea, a new way of thinking or may simply have a good laugh. If you do this one simple thing, then not only are all of the people who have been nominated winners, but you are as well.

Thoughts on the Park 51 Community Center

I typically do not weigh in on political matters here unless the pertain to the meetings and events industry and the more that I think about it, the more I am thinking that the controversy over the Park 51 Community Center does indeed impact our industry.

I notice that our industry associations are quite quiet on the issue, probably waiting to see which way the wind blows rather than take a stand on something that will have profound repercussions on the United States as a country. They really should consider coming out with a statement on the issue.

Most people who read this are American, most are meeting and event professionals. As meeting and event professionals, we deal with all races, religions, orientations and personality types in our roles and we are the great integrators. I like to think that we treat all of our attendees equally and with respect, putting everyone on the same pedestal. Where are we now that this is happening, what is wrong with us.

First, lets get a few things straight:

  • This is not a Mosque, it is a community center that will have a pool and basketball courts.
  • It will have a prayer room, much like an airport has a chapel. Get this straight, it is not a Mosque (although, that is irrelevant).

Second, lets talk about the people that are building this center and do some simple math.

  • They are Muslim, not al-Qaida
  • Being Muslim does not = al-Qaida, just as being German does not = Nazi

Newt Gingrich and his wonks are going around spouting how you would not allow the Nazi’s to build next to the Holocaust Museum and I agree, that would be inflammatory, rude and disgusting.

Go back to my equations and hold that they are true:

  • If you would not allow the Nazis to build next to the Holocaust Museum (which we all agree on), it would then stand that you would not allow al-Qaida to build next to the World Trade Center Site.
  • It would also stand that if a fine group of Germans wished to build a Church a couple of blocks from the Holocaust Museum that would be fine because German’s are not Nazis, Nazi’s are Nazi’s… although they intersect.
  • Therefore it should stand that al-Qaida is al-Qaida, Muslims are Muslims and the two, while intersecting, are not the same.

Muslims were among the first responders on 9/11, they were among the dead on 9/11 and they are certainly among the people that were outraged by what happened on that tragic day.

Some will argue that Muslims were seen cheering after the attack…..of course, there were people who stood and cheered that day, there were also Germans that cheered on the day that Poland was invaded, there were Russians who cheered after the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Japanese who cheered the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The difference is CNN, CNN was not at all of these events.

What we quickly forget is that there were also Muslims who cried that day, just as there were Germans that cried, Russians that cried and Japanese that cried.

If we continue down this path, we are becoming less American, we are becoming what we despise most, we are becoming wrong and that I cannot stand for. Just because you do not agree with it, does not make it wrong.

I am an American. I am an American with Christian Friends, with Muslim Friends, with Jewish Friends, with Gay Friends, with Straight Friends, with German Friends, with Black Friends, with White Friends, with Japanese Friends, with Italian Friends and even friends that I think are idiots. All types can be welcome in my world. All of my friends can even be in the same room together and have great conversations because we respect each other.

I am not friends with Nazis, I am not friends with al-Qaida and I am not friends with any one who would spit on the spirit of America and say that one peaceful group has less rights than another. Wake up people, this is UN-American.

Our troops fight for precisely these rights, they fight for the rights of a minority to not get squashed by the majority. They fight for the 1st Amendment and all of the other amendments that we hold dear and are so proud of. They fight for the memory of all of the lives that were lost on 9/11, even the Muslim ones.

What are we to do as meeting and event professionals if this spreads. What are you going to say when someone will not sit at the same table with a Muslim, just because they are a Muslim. What are you going to say when your organization decides to exclude Muslims from speaking at a program and what are you going to say when it spreads to another group….say Jewish people, White people or Indian people. Are you going to sit there and say “I am going to go with the group because that is what they think” or perhaps you will say “This does not concern me”.

The famous quote by Pastor Martin Niemöller regarding the failure of German Intellectuals during the Nazi rise to power sums this situation up perfectly.

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

and by that time no one was left to speak up.”



Forced to use Social Media

As a meeting and event planner, how would you change if you were forced to share unfiltered social media? How would this change the way you prepare content, treat the attendees and what you serve for lunch? How would it affect the session topics, the transportation options, signage and speaker selection?

What if you were forced to present your twitter feed on the main screen before the general session for all to see, how about large LCD screens at registration or what if a people were tasked with simply reading tweets and blog posts about the event out loud in between sessions.

Would your events stay exactly the same or would you keep tweaking the program so that it was always improving, always growing, always getting better so that you could be confident about what was being said?

Event Ownership

Who owns your event? I am not talking about the legal form of ownership, I am talking about who owns it, who are the people that make it happen. Do you give them a sense of ownership or are you like some dictator that owns it all and takes credit for everything.

A feeling of ownership is important for everyone with a stake in your meetings and events. Attendees, staff, volunteers, sponsors, exhibitors and even vendors. They all need to have that sense of ownership so that they feel empowered to do the job and not just a good job, a great job.

Your event’s success depends on everyone involved, not just you. Give everyone involved the tools that they need to fulfill their role to the best of their ability and you will find that your job becomes easier while the event becomes better and stronger.

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