Saturday, May 25, 2013

Is Your Conference Like a Pair of “2 Hour Shoes”?

Let me explain…..

These are some shoes that I own.

When I first saw them on the shelf of the shoe store I inhaled slightly, a little breathlessly like supermodels do – they were spectacular…. “I was in love”.  Soft leather to gently cradle my feet, platform heels to bring me to a respectable height, in a beautiful shade of milky cream to match…well to match everything. I tried them on in the shoe store, rolling up the pant-legs of my jeans to see how they looked in the weird little angled mirror they have specifically designed for that purpose.

Oh.My.Gawd. Perfection!

They screamed, “Buy me!”

So I did.

The perfect opportunity to wear the shoes came soon after. I slipped into a glittery gold dress and put my magical new shoes on. They were exactly as I remembered….

Like Cinderella in her glass slippers… to the party I went.

I made my entrance in my new shoes….standing so tall in my platforms, the high heels forcing my rear end to create a slight “booty-tooch” which belied its age.

Flash forward two hours. My feet are bare and those damn shoes….objects of torture are abandoned in a pile under my table. I am walking slightly hobbled now, blisters adorn my heels….my booty no longer “tooches”. I am mad that I bought the damn shoes and feeling terribly disappointed.

My closet contains one or two pair of 2 hour shoes… that I once coveted, believing that somehow they would make me look different, feel different. They didn't live up to expectations.

I have been to conferences that remind me a little of my “2 Hour Shoes”. Events that lure me in with a fabulous website, creative marketing and wild promises of superior education and networking opportunities. Don't get me wrong, those are all great things......but only if they deliver.

Day one – fabulous
Day two – face palm…..disappointment….can’t get out of there fast enough

Hobbled with disappointment….barely getting through it, hating each and every step – looking for a way out. Fly home mad thinking about wasted time and money.
My office drawer contains one or two lanyards…..lanyards from conferences that cost me a lot of money to attend and unfortunately…..failed to deliver. They simply didn’t live up to the hype.

Last year I wrote a post called, “Pricing Disappointment” where I said, “You cannot put a price-tag on disappointment especially if it is a disappointing experience”.

In many situations you have only one opportunity to make a good first impression: to attendees, to sponsors, to stakeholders.

For a conference planner, there is only one thing worse than attending a crappy conference...and that is planning one.

Here are some tips:
  • Don’t over-promise and under-deliver
  • Promote clear goals and objectives
  • Be honest
  • Be transparent
  • Be authentic

(Stay tuned for my next blog post: "Green Meetings - Put a Bird on it!")