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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

General Sessions = General Pain

Why, why, why?  Why does every association feel the need to have the same awful general session?  How can one general session make me care so little about the industry?  Here are some highlights from this year's IAEE opening general session, for those that missed it:

Are recovering alcoholics the best public speakers?  Not last night.  Inappropriate Frank.
Some people need to lay off the plastic surgery.
Scripting banter is not necessarily a good idea...let's elect leaders that can actually banter off the cuff. 

Pain and suffering led to the Champion VIP party and a dance off.  Good times.

Next up - another general session.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

At the Airport

The airport is nobody's favorite place.  The lines, the people, the bad food that is bad for you and so not worth the money but you're hungry and you have to eat something.  Today, however, I am sitting in the airport (IAD) on my way to Atlanta and it's lovely and a learning experience.  I am here for 4 hours today because I had a friend drop me off on her way to work rather than paying a cab $30 to bring me at a normal time. 

I learned that 4 hours is the maximum amount of time that United will let you check in your baggage at the airport.  I learned that no matter the time of day or how few people are in the airport the security system at Dulles is amazingly slow and not run well logistically.

The Starbucks had no line, which was awesome.  I am working on my laptop and sitting right next to the power station which is wonderful.  And, when I'm done with this, I'm going to get a 10 minute manicure at the little storefront to my left.  Fab!  Good things can happen at the airport.