To Conference Planners – It’s More Than Just a Light

I was driving by a hotel just outside Chicago the other night and something caught my eye. Unfortunately, it was not a good thing.

Now, before I begin, three things should have caught my eye. All of them good.

One– A decent hotel brand that I did not know was  there….A nice discovery because I thought I knew all of the good three and four stars around Chicago and one of my clients has a current need.
Two– The property is in a great location close to O’Hare….My client and their guests are not from here so they are flying in, they need to be near Chicago but not in it, and they don’t want an airport property. Things should be looking up.
Three– They have a restaurant that actually sounds interesting…..again, good for presenting to my client because they have an opening night reception on property and good food is a must.

All three of these points should mean money to them because I have a client with a need, they can fill the need and I am not really overjoyed with my other options at the moment. In fact, my client has all functions but one on property so this three night event is cash cow for the property.

These good things that should have caught my eye were only realized after the real “eye catcher”, which is too bad.

What caught my eye was their sign. Half of it was dark. The lights were burned out.

It happens of course, lights burn out, but if the hotel (or other business) is on the ball, the lights are changed quick. Now, before someone thinks that I am being a little rash, I am still going to have a look at this property, for all I know the lights burned out three minutes before I pulled up to the light and I have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I am going back in the late afternoon, I am going to tour the property and then going out to dinner. I will then drive back by after dark to see if the lights are still out because I do think that there is a deeper meaning here, a look deep into the culture of an organization.

You see, there are some lights that burn out and within hours, the bulbs are changed and the sign gets washed for good measure. The awesome Mexican Restaurant at the end of my block is like this, so is the Starbucks a few blocks away.

At these businesses and those like them, they may never give you the opportunity to notice that a light has ever burned out unless you happen to be there when it happens. Attention to detail and caring about the ”outside” says a lot about what is happening inside.

Then you notice that there are some places that never change the light. You drive by week after week and nothing. Sometimes the other half of the sign goes out before they even notice. If you stop and think for just a second, you know places just like this.

These are businesses that do not care enough about their image to fix the lights and this should be a warning.

If they cannot be bothered to change the lights, can they be bothered to take care of your attendees?

From March of 08, a little update as well. They left the lights burned out.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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