Written by Staci Simmons | Manager, Marketing Communications & Creative Services
The only thing you can plan for is change. If something can happen at an event—it will. Our experts took time to share some of their most interesting and outrageous stories from the frontline. From mother-nature to man-made, these onsite challenges allowed our team to stretch their problem-solving muscles to save the situation from escalating, ensuring the event went as smoothly as possible.
Here are their stories:
Flood of Problems
In Barcelona for a meeting, at the end of our last day, after the meeting was done and departures had concluded, our team ventured outside to reflect on the success of the event. Moments later, we received a call from the manager on duty to let us know that there was an incident in one of our attendee’s guestroom. He explained when housekeeping entered the room, it was flooded with at least two inches of water. The description was vivid… from the foul smell to pieces of food floating in the water. Our first concern was our attendee and we were relieved to learn she was at the entire meeting and safely on her travels home. Initially, the hotel threatened to charge for damages. However, after a little digging, they realized they had shut off the water the night before and into the morning. Naturally, the attendee must have turned on and checked every faucet that morning to get ready and accidentally left them on. She went to the meeting, checked out of the hotel and departed home. However, during the day the water had come back on—flooding the entire guestroom. The hotel had not announced there would be a shut-off, so the guest was not charged for damages.
Do Not Disturb
At one of our conferences taking place at large convention center in a downtown area, our staff went to set up the registration table the second day and noticed what appeared to be a “homeless” gentleman sleeping under the skirted table. It totally caught us off guard as we were not expecting an “uninvited visitor” and especially not under the hospitality desk. He woke up, we politely told him we were setting up for a conference and he left.
Didn’t Miss a Beat
The meeting was at the Renaissance Orlando Sea World and it was the last day of the conference. We had an awesome closing keynote speaker who is a former Surgeon General. The board and co-chairs were very excited to hear him speak. About halfway through his presentation, the city of Orlando had a brown out. The hotel had no power at all and all the lights and audio shut down in the general session. Of course, the attendees were a bit alarmed completely in the dark. We propped the doors open quickly to get some light in from the atrium and grabbed flashlights. The speaker was so fantastic – he didn’t miss a beat! He walked off of the stage, into the audience, and just kept speaking – no microphone, nothing. It actually made his presentation better because it felt more intimate than just him flipping through a power point and being on a stage. He received a well-deserved standing ovation!
Of Course, We Can
One year, for a reoccurring event, an attendee asked for a specific room during the online registration process, describing the room in vivid detail. Shortly after they registered, they emailed us to follow up with the request with an attached photo of the hotel, with an arrow pointing to the specific room, on a specific side of the hotel, overlooking the pool. While the client’s room block was not in that area, we worked with the hotel to put the attendee near their requested room. Because we have contracted with the hotel annually, they were willing to work with us to accommodate the request.
$10,000 Well Spent
We manage programs all over the world in amazing places and spaces. However, the venue’s decor doesn’t always lend itself to our client’s vision. So, we need to get creative or take extreme measures. We once had a client request to take down a gigantic chandelier because she didn’t like how it looked in the general session and thought it interfered attendees seeing the presenters. She was willing to pay the $10,000 to have it removed and then re-installed after the event. As for the chandelier, the hotel took it down only for the client to realize she didn’t like how it looked without it either—so their maintenance staff put it back up.
In our business, we get a lot of requests–big, small and everything in between. It comes with the territory, and we do our best. However, we once had a request for a treadmill and 8-pound weights to be put in a sleeping room for a National Sales Meeting. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a VIP request or even an attendee – it ended up being a guest sharing a room with an attendee at the meeting. Interestingly, Westin Hotels and Peloton have now teamed up to put bikes in fifty WestinWORKOUT Studios and select guestrooms. She was just ahead of her time.
It’s the Bridge’s Fault
A few years ago, we were standing outside an event venue waiting for the Board of Directors. Someone called me in a panic to let me know the CEO was upset that they were late for breakfast. They told the CEO the bridge was up and the mini coach was waiting for it to go down. Clearly annoyed, he told her to call us to “get that fixed.” Literally, as she finished asking us to “get the bridge down” the lights started blinking and siren blaring as the bridge slowly started to recede. The timing could not have been better. As a solution, we quickly had breakfast moved to the meeting room so they could eat and meet. Problem solved!
Snow in San Antonio
One December, we were onsite in San Antonio, Texas for a routine dinner meeting. As we all know, Texas is located in southern Texas and the temperatures usually range from hot to hotter. This particular night happened to be the first snowfall for the first time in about 20 years. Oddly enough, the hotel’s heat wasn’t working (probably because they haven’t had to turn it on in years), but we had a great idea—to pass out hotel blankets from housekeeping and serve hot cocoa and coffee during dinner. The participants and clients were impressed. Most attendees loved the fact most of them traveled from up north to warmer weather, only to find snow! An evening that could have turned out to be a disaster, ended up being a fun memorable moment for staff and customers, alike.
Every event is an adventure. Our expert team of event managers, coordinators, and onsite team members know how to diligently and professionally manage problems as they arise. To learn more about event management visit www.meetings-incentives.com or call 1+ 262.835.3553 to speak to one of our pros.