Onsite Horror Stories
Just in time for Halloween, the M&IW team shares the onsite horror stories that made their heart pound. From spooky encounters to stressful situations to, well… uncomfortable run-ins, enjoy these harrowing tales and consider yourself lucky they didn’t happen to you!
The Haunted Hotels
By Samantha Steinkeler, CMP-HC, HMCC, Customer Success Director
I once had a customer who told me onsite that her hotel room was haunted. She met me in the office early in the morning and said she refused to stay in the room. She said she had awakened to a small child watching her while she slept, and she was up all night hearing rattling noises. She also said she saw a maid in the hallway who disappeared once she passed her. It makes some sense as it was a notoriously haunted hotel (the St. Francis in San Francisco), and her room was in the oldest section of the building.
She refused to go back to the room, and I had to pack up her belongings for her and move her to a new location. All was well after that, and she is still one of my favorite customers to this day.
Another time, for a different customer, we had an HCP meeting in Taiwan, our first time hosting there. The team sourced a very nice hotel, but once the HCPs started registering, they declined the hotel and noted that it was haunted by past spirits as it was a burial ground. Half of the HCPs still stayed, but the rest found alternative lodging. I think I had an encounter, but it might have been severe jet leg. My TV kept turning on and off during the night—but I was too delirious to look into it further. The funny thing was that the customer’s feedback was that we should start asking “is your hotel haunted?” on our hotel RFPs! Not sure if that question ever stuck…
Disaster in the Dugout
By Donna Collins, Sr. Customer Success Manager
Thirteen years ago, back in the dark ages before mobile app gamification, we were doing a teambuilding activity for 1,000 people. We created a baseball-themed game where the participants could earn baseball hits and runs throughout nine “innings” of play. The goal was for the participants to visit as many suppliers as possible on the tradeshow floor, and in return, they received a branded baseball card worth either a single, double, triple, home run, or grand slam.
We positioned “dugouts” throughout the tradeshow floor for participants to deposit their cards into popcorn buckets. Our “umpires” would gather the cards and record the team scores so we could update the scoreboard accordingly.
After seven innings, we received an urgent SOS from a young umpire for immediate support at his dugout. His voice was definitely distressed as he tried to tell us someone dropped something into his bucket and he needed help right away. He wouldn’t tell us what was wrong over the radio, so we rushed over to his dugout to see for ourselves what was causing the alarm.
There it was… at the bottom of the bucket, surrounded by the earned baseball cards… one partial lower denture in all its pink and white glory! The poor young umpire had apparently never seen dentures before and was totally freaked out. Us seasoned event professionals immediately broke out into laughter!
We then moved into solutions mode, trying to figure out how we would reunite the dentures with their owner. One suggestion was to line everyone up and ask them to smile before they leave the building, but that was of course turned down. We instead announced over the speakers that if anyone lost something to proceed to Lost and Found to claim it. To our knowledge, no one claimed them… at least not that day. We kept looking at everyone’s smiles for the rest of the program!
Sleepless in the Sky
By Missy Peterson, Sr. Director, People Engagement & Operations
I was flying to Beijing for a site visit. During the “night” of this very long flight, as we were flying over Russia, the captain gave an announcement saying there was an active volcano nearby, so they needed to reroute our flight, which was going to affect how much fuel we would have to get to our original destination.
This news kept me awake for the rest of the flight.
Luckily, the pilot came back on a few hours later saying they “figured it out” and we had enough fuel to get to Beijing. It was quite an adventure!
Behind the Curtain…
By Rachel Egan, CMP, HMCC, Sr. Event Sourcing Manager
When I was a planner for an investment bank, I took clients over to a hotel for a site visit and innocently asked if I could see the larger ballroom in case they thought they needed more room. I heard noise as we walked in, but then it stopped, so I didn’t think anything of it. I showed the client the stage, and as I pulled back the black drapes, I found two staff members having a bit of “afternoon delight!”
I screamed, and when the client asked what was wrong, I just said I saw the largest spider ever.
I quickly ushered them from the room, telling them it was best to come back when the room was fully cleaned and staffed so they could see the full potential. The clients ended up choosing the hotel for their event but asked to change the color of the décor… including those drapes!
Straight Out of The Shining
By Sara Rollheiser, Sr. Coordinator, Attendee Experience
One time I was onsite and I got to my hotel room and the words “Red Rum” were carved into my door. Even spookier is that I didn’t notice it until day three! I either was just too busy to notice or someone put it there while I was staying in the room!
Lost (Luggage) at Sea
By Sarah Hart, Sr. Event Sourcing Manager
I was the lead meeting planner on an incentive trip that was a cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. During all the pre-planning for the event, the cruise line continued to remind us that any passengers who missed the boat departure would be driven to the next port to meet the ship there. Of course, on the day of arrival, this was one of my biggest worries. Were all the attendees’ flights going to make it in time? Had everyone safely arrived in Lisbon?
Well, all our attendees did arrive safely in Lisbon, and we were able to get all attendees on the ship before departure. Crisis averted, right? Wrong… All attendees arrived safely, but not all their luggage! Roughly 20 of our attendees’ bags did not make it to Lisbon as the luggage missed connecting flights somewhere back in the States. So here were 20 attendees on a cruise ship, with only the clothes they had worn on the plane and a very tiny (and I mean tiny) gift shop on board the ship. There was no time in Lisbon to do any shopping before the ship’s departure, and our next stop was Gibraltar, so not a lot of shopping there, either. The cruise line and the airlines were working together to track the luggage, and at every major port, one of the event managers supporting the program had to go to the airport to collect anything that had arrived.
As the week went on, most of the attendees with missing luggage were able to get their luggage at some point. There was just one very unlucky gentleman whose luggage never arrived. He was a really good sport about it, and at our final dinner of the cruise, which was black tie, he showed up in the bathrobe and slippers from his state room and borrowed a bow tie from one of the other guests. He did not let his lost luggage put a damper on his fun!
By Ally Mast, CMP, Customer Success Specialist
I was onsite for an advisory board in Canada, and the foam core signage and arrows showed up but not the plastic adhesive cover for the sign inserts. The package was opened in Canadian customs and the inserts were either purposely or mistakenly removed there. Typically, this would be an easy run to Staples or FedEx to pick up replacements. However, this all happened on the second Monday in October—Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Signage needed to be put out by 8:00 AM on Tuesday, the day of the meeting, and the nearest Staples was 30 minutes away and did not open until 9:00 AM.
We persevered by asking (begging? pleading??) the front desk to allow us to borrow some plastic page protectors, which we taped to the fore core signs. But because they were page protectors, there was a three-hole punch mark in the sheets where there were bare pages not covered by the plastic. We ended up printing large blank rectangles which we taped to the front of the signage. So much for an easy four-hour advisory board!