Friday, August 6, 2010

Marketing Genius

I have been meaning to blog all week, and today is the day that something moved me so much, I had to drop everything.  I just talked to the marketing person for a company that will be coming to an upcoming show and wanted to know what opportunities were available for them to make a splash.

Unfortunately, with the show in less than two months, I don't have anything that could really help him accomplish everything he wants to do, but I do have some things available that can definitely raise the visibility of the company.

This boy, and I believe he is young enough to be called a boy, told me:

"I am not one to talk highly of myself.  I'm not cocky or anything, but I am a marketing genius".

Yes, those are quotes because those were his exact words...and he was serious!  I had to get off the phone with him quickly because I was worried about the uncontrollable laughter bubbling up inside me.

People, I think I am good at my job.  I think I am smarter and better than the average person in my position.  However, this is not an opinion I share with random people, and I have NEVER called myself a genius.  Well, I have, but not with a straight face. 

I cannot wait to meet the boy onsite.  I am putting him on my must-see list for this conference.  Stay tuned for that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hiring & Firing Authority

I am not the best sales person ever.  Mainly because I really hate making sales calls, but I get over it and do it...because that's my job.  However, I am 100% better than the dummy I talked to yesterday.  I contacted him via e-mail more than a month ago about getting pricing information on some electronic signage.  He responded that we needed to talk before he could send the information.  Fine.  I have tried to set up several calls with him over the past month and he has either not responded, or in one case, did not call me when he was supposed to.  I would have called him but I only had his e-mail.

Finally we talked.  And I wanted to scream at him.  How hard is it to tell me that the cost is $750 per day?  The reason, it turns out, that he needed to talk to me was to explain that they can sell advertisements in this program to our sponsors/exhibitors and they will share revenue back with the association.  This took him 20 minutes.  "Hi sir...this isn't my first rodeo.  You could have explained that via e-mail too...I am familiar with revenue sharing programs."  I wanted to fire him right then and there, but sadly, lacked the authority.

Thought for the Day:  "You don’t try out for West Side Story because you’re awesome at discus." – Christian Finnegan

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Credit Applications

I miss being an exhibits manager.  As nutty as exhibitors can be, they are the poster children for sanity compared to hotel sales departments.  After being stalked endlessly for December 2012 contracts, which finally made it through legal and were signed, now I am being stalked for a credit application.  What?!  Are you being serious?  You need payment information for a meeting in 3 years?  I'm annoyed.

Mainly I'm annoyed because I did not catch the line in the contract that said that the contract is not complete unless accompanied by the payment.  Live and learn I guess, but it does make me miss arguing with exhibitors.  Usually at the end of the day I could talk an exhibitor into being resonable.

This whole episode really makes me hate this hotel brand, and I have no desire to ever plan another meeting in this particular city again.  In the interest of not dragging names through the mud I won't mention either, but please compare to the City of Monterey, California.  The conference center and hotel folks in Monterey have been nothing but accomodating and helpful. 

Being new to this group, I don't have the hotel and bank references off the top of my head and I don't have ready access to those files.  So, my day came to a complete stop so that I could research...and add one more thing to my list of things to watch out for in hotel contracts.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Heart Decorators

After a long 5 months of being involved with a brand new local food and wine event, it was a huge success today.  It was my first local event and my first consumer event.  I'm not a huge fan of either one.  Give me a B2B trade show any day.  And this, friends, leads us to today's title line - I Heart Decorators.  As I was climbing a rickety ladder to hang a banner I was suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to call my Champion rep and let her know I needed a banner hung.  That's why I love decorators...they hang I don't have to.

Friday, March 12, 2010

When A Meeting Planner Says You're A Problem Attendee, We Are Not Flirting

I have always worked for male dominated organizations in my career so I have had my fair share of dealing with unwanted advances and drunken stupidity.  The conference that I am working on this week is for a group of younger people (ages 18-35) of an association.  It's a great group that helps builds leaders for the association.  I first met one of the attendees at last weeks conference when he was being a small problem.  Nothing major, but I told him he was trouble and that he needed to do exactly as I said.  To this man, I was flirting.

At this evenings event, he walked past me and grabbed a part of my anatomy that he had no business grabbing.  He was very drunk, so I kindly told him that in order to keep his hands, he needed to keep them off of me.  He was very apologetic at that point...more or less...but that's when I realized that he had taken my words the week before as my special way of flirting.  It wasn't.

To be honest, I was feeling kind of bad because I really hadn't been that nice to him the week before.  He's just one of those attendees that didn't pay attention to anything that had been sent and, more importantly, didn't care.  I'm against this behavior and try to do my part to discourage it.  Evidently I'm a miserable failure at that.  I will have to work harder.

I was probably a little meaner to him tonight than I needed to be when I told him only special boys get to touch me and he wasn't special enough.  He was sad and said "I'm not special?" to which I replied "you're don't eat the paste special, but that's not special enough".  Tomorrow should be fun.  With any luck at all he'll have forgotten the incident and we can move on with everyone's hands where they belong.

New rule for attendee packets: when the planner tells you to do something, it's not a pick-up line; we actually want you to do it because you are either being an obstacle or about to be an obstacle to our success. 

Welcome To My New Blog

The new blog December and January found me with a lot of time on my hands and my blog suffered.  February and March are killing me, but I have a lot to I am back to blogging.  For those new to the blog, I am an event manager, specilizing in business and associaiton events.  I don't do weddings! 

I have taken on a new client that has seven events this year, five of which are February through May.  The group is going through some transition internally including their meeting planner retiring after many years.  Luckily for me, she left behind great files.  But with their transition comes a lot of new ideas to try, so they are keeping me on my toes.

My first event with them was last week in Sacramento and I learned a lot about the group. 
  1. Always have coffee available.  ALWAYS.  For free or for sale, it doesn't matter as long as they can get it.  
  2. If on a budget for a reception, you must do passed hors d' ouevres.  If given access to a station, they will pile their plates with appetizers as high as they can...and they can pile high.  It's like a circus act.
  3. Need to solve the lunch crisis on committee days.  Attendees who don't register (because there is no cost and no penalty) come out of the woodwork, with spouses in tow, and there is no way to guess how many people you will be feeding until they show up in the buffet line.
  4. You cannot be overly direct or go over the agenda too many times with key staff.  Eventually they will tell you the plan in their head that doesn't jive with the actual plan and you can fix it.  Hopefully this happens prior to the meeting, when you hear "another group is in our meeting room, where should we go".  What?  You should go back in time to tell me that you needed another meeting room and that you had a room picked out in your head. 
 At the end of the event, no one knew the issues that arose and the bandaids we put on them.  You just have to laugh...and have a Plan B in your pocket.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Efficiency Expert

How can I make this my title and get people to pay me for it?  I feel like a union may be involved.  I am in the Atlanta Airport this morning and people need help.  Just everyday people who don't know how inefficient they are or how much they are annoying me.

Security:  Travelling in the winter is a little more difficult than other times of the year because of the amount of layers.  However, some people cause themselves even more trouble than is necessary by attaching everything they own to them prior to getting in the security line.  There is no need.  Put the extra stuff in your carry on bag and get it out afterwards.  Also, items do not have to be neatly folded in the bins...just throw them in and be on your way.  Take off your shoes for goodness sake.  Move your stuff forward when there is room.  I don't want to have to yell at you, but I will.  P.S. All children, the elderly and the overdressed should be sent to the same line as they all take more than their fair share of security time.

Starbucks:  We are only a few short weeks away from 2010.  As a functioning adult, it is your responsibility to know what a latte is and the sizing requirements of a Starbucks.  If you do not know what a latte is, the line at a major airport at 8:00 am is not the time to learn.  Google search that first.  Otherwise, order something else.  If you must order in small, medium and large, fine...but that's really not what they're called. Once you have ordered your items, especially in an airport Starbucks, you need to have an exit strategy.  Please do NOT wait until your 15 hot chocolates have arrived before calling to your family for help.  This is also not the place to ask for random things from the do not need straws for your hot drinks.  The cup holsters have a small dab of glue in the middle of each one so that they lay flat.  You peel it apart and insert the cup.  They are all like this.  You are not getting defective ones.  Stop trying them and then putting them back.  You have a lot of children and are clearly a walking petri dish....stop touching everything.  MOVE. 

Walkways:  You should treat walkways as if they are highways.  If you need to stop, you don't just come to a stop in the middle of the pull over on the side.  You watch where you're going if you're going to re-enter traffic.  And if you need to turn around, you don't just throw it in reverse and then execute a quick turn like you're one of the Dukes of Hazzard.  Stop, look and listen.  This is also true for other public spaces...the grocery store, the mall, etc.

As the self-appointed "law around here" on these issues and I will start citing offenders.  You will be identified and ridiculed and invoiced.  It will be better if you can prove that you can act in a rational manner and not impede the progress of the rest of the world.  It's for your own good.  You'll thank me someday, and until then you can make your checks payable to KJ.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Must Start A Union

Here is my issue: union labor can make life good or a misery for a show manager.  Every city is different in every way...what the rules are, what the cost is and how trained/worthless the labor is.  If you have a show that travels, it is a constant education process to let exhibitors know what the rules are this year and how much they should budget.

I want to start a union.  I'll call it Local KJ #1.  Then I will convince people that I have a right to perform duties for them that they are willing and able to do on their own and that they owe it to me to pay me and make sure that I am earning a living.  Of course, I can allow them to do there own work as long as they still pay me.  Of course, I will earn overtime and double time based on the time of day and day of the week because that's just simpler for billing purposes.

I went to a session today at IAEE that made me so angry (can you tell?), I'm considering making it my lifes mission to destroy all unions and a couple of GSC's.  Somewhat destructive for a lifes's no feeding the hungry or world peace, but I believe it needs to be done. 

First of all, why is that all union leaders have the same obnoxious smirk on their face.  It's superior and annoying because no matter what they say, they've got us and they know it.  But what really chapped my hide today was the fact that both the union and the GSC reps on hand had no problem putting all the blame of union issues on the shoulders of the show manager. 

To be fair, I'll take my share of the blame.  The GSC has to mark up prices of everything, including labor, in order to pay for the work they do complimentary for the show and make a profit, which is what they are in business to do.  Fine. But the train came off the tracks almost immediately after this point was made.

Never have I had a GSC talk to me about how to keep exhibitor costs down, even when I asked about it.  How much less can I make exhibitor costs by simplifying other things?  How much are you marking up items?  Do you want to tell me?  No, because then I would know the margin and may want to negotiate that.  the horror.  Don't talk to me about transparency when it is like pulling teeth to get basic show information from you and there is a lot of information I won't ever get from you.  So, while I undertsand that the GSC doesn't like to be blamed for high prices, let's not blame the show manager when you have done NOTHING to help the manager understand what portion of those prices are related to their own actions.

The union, as well, is a big fan of blaming the show manager because the show manager should be asking about the agreements between the GSC and the union and comparing cities and then not hire a GSC or a city that you can't work in.  That's a nice theory, but I have inherited nearly every city and GSC I have worked in or with, so that makes it difficult.  Even at my last association, no one in the conference department was included in the selection of cities, and there are many organizations that operate this way (even though it makes no sense).  I believe that cities and GSC's bank on it.  Give enough presents to the people that sign off and you can get away with a lot.

Furthermore, according to the union, they are all too happy to negotiate with show management if we envision problems arising.  Whatever.  The truth is some cities suck to work in and everone knows it no matter how "willing to work with show management" the union claims to be.  My favorite part of the session was in the beggining when the case for unions was made.  We use them to provide show management with qualified and trained labor, but evidently the union isn't sure that it's their job to provide the training.  After all, the GSC is the entitiy that needs the work done.

That philosophy actually explains a lot in terms of why the labor pool varies so much city to city.  The locals that believe it is their job to not only say they are providing a trained labor pool, but then actually provide that, are evident. Sadly, this is not all of them, and that is equally clear.

Oddly, in many industries a higher price and stricter rules lead to a higher quality product and yet that is not always the case in labor.  In fact some of the most complained about unions are also the most restrictive and expensive.  They claim that the "stories" of the behavior issues are just lore that we, as show managers, should stop perpetuating.  But what about my first-hand stories, I wonder.  Should I also put thsoe from my mind as urban legend...maybe I dreamed it? 

Again, I am happy to take my share of the blame, but evidently I'm the only one.  That being the case, the destruction of the labor situation as we know it today is imperative and we should start over. I was outdone with these people today.  I could go on because there was so much ridiculousness, but I won't.  Must begin strategic planning for the new mission.