Reality Show? Nope, Just another Day in the Life of a Meeting Professional
Molly C. Marsh, Programs Coordinator, National Association of State Procurement Officials
I’ve always said that an association meeting professional’s life would make an excellent reality show. Combine a 15-hour travel day with a no-show speaker; throw in a thunderstorm just as participants leave for their offsite dinner (to which they are walking) and a hotel where the chef just quit…you’ve got a hit, I promise!
During a recent event, in a city and hotel property to remain nameless, I had one of those days that the cameras can only dream of catching. Simply put, everything went wrong. No matter how much we had planned, checked and double-checked, there are some things you just can’t anticipate. Speakers changing plans at the last second, an understaffed hotel, a hailstorm and leaks to the building, the list went on. It was the perfect kind of drama for the viewer, so entertaining to watch things crumble…as long as you’re not in the middle of it.
That’s where we step in. The ultimate purpose of any meeting or conference is for participants to leave the event with new knowledge, skills, understanding or tools to make their life, work or family better. Association members shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not their next meal will be ready on time, or whether they’re coming into a meeting room where the debris hasn’t been cleared from the last person who sat there. Our job exists to field all the drama so members don’t have to.
So, although the days may be long and frustrating (and painful at times), knowing that our members are getting what they came for makes it all worth it. It was such a joy to hear participants at this most recent meeting comment about how great of an experience they had and how much they learned. It was almost like nothing had gone wrong at all…almost.