By Christine Born
Planners love to hear case studies, meeting bloopers and ways we all turn challenges into successes. So we decided to take you behind the scenes of our Southeast Expo in Atlanta, held Sept. 27 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Ravinia.
- If you’re served a lemon, make lemonade … In this case, it turned out to be apple cider. When your liquor sponsor drops out at the last minute, your vendor’s liquor license is not in order and your attendees are expecting a reception, what do you do? If your theme and décor are fall apples, you order fresh apple cider from the closest orchard and turn your reception into a celebration of the season.
- Follow that theme, wherever it may lead … The image of one red apple standing out amid a bunch of green apples was chosen to illustrate this year’s Expo theme, “Take Your Meetings from Ordinary to Extraordinary.” It kept growing, until bushels of apples were purchased for use in table decorations, to adorn speaker podiums and in gift baskets. Expo decorator EventScapes got in on the act with red and green tabletops in the reception area. By the day of the event, the entire staff was sick of the things.
- Whose coffee station was it, anyway? … Four meeting rooms off the hall were ours; another company was using two. We served cappuccinos at a registration reception, but when our attendees saw the coffee and pastry station in the meeting room hall, they lined up. Who could blame them? Room monitors became hall monitors, and tried to redirect traffic away from temptation.
- Timing is everything … You don’t want to start a meeting late, but you also don’t want to start it while attendees are still pouring into the room, meeting and greeting, exchanging introductions and, generally, enjoying the interaction. But, schedule anxiety hit; we were on schedule and determined to remain so. The luncheon welcome address started, even though many people weren’t able to hear it.
- Know your crowd … Maybe a mixed group of planners and vendors is not the best forum for tips on how to win concessions during negotiations, especially when the A/V team, jokingly, threatens to cut off the sound.
- Lessons reinforced … The art of planning requires creative adaptation, determination, flexibility, a sense of humor and the audacity to go for “extraordinary.”