As both a meeting planner and a member of Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals’ (FICP’s) Education Committee, I approached last week’s Annual Conference last week in San Diego with a particularly discerning eye. Here are 5 things I learned that I can apply to my own events.
Motivational speakers don’t have to be so…perky
Bert Jacobs, cofounder of Life Is Good, won over the audience with honest and humble storytelling of how he and his brother John built their brand—and all the mistakes they made along the way. Today they drive around the country in an Airstream trailer, personally visiting the many people who were inspired by their art and message—most importantly, the children—and give back through the Life Is Good Kids Foundation. I would hire him to speak in a New York minute.
Anything can happen, really
In speaking with one planner who does a great deal of international incentive travel, I was amazed at the horror stories she had been through. In one case, she was holding an event on a beach on a perfectly clear night when a surprise wind blew in and pulled the poles of her cabanas right out of the ground, injuring the guests. Lesson learned: Have an EMT on site, which she did. If it’s something you can’t imagine happening, it just might!
Hyatt’s catering is outstanding
The host hotel, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, did an amazing job catering the final evening on the flight deck of the USS Midway. The chefs rely on local vendors such as Port Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and Chesapeake Fish Company. The sustainable seafood table was exceptional, but so were the tiny grilled cheese sandwiches, turkey burgers, sweet potato fries and much more.
Commercials are annoying
In a breakout session about meeting security, I was forced to endure more than one supplier speak up only to promote their destination, not to share information on the topic. There should be repercussions for individuals who self-promote during educational sessions—it’s not funny or cute. Even worse is when they actually acknowledge that it’s what they’re doing. Instead of rolling your eyes, why not speak up to the meeting organizer?
The right location keeps people in their seats
The Seaport Village area where the Hyatt is located (also the Marriott and Hilton) is an ideal spot for a convention because within seconds after the meeting ends, people can experience all that this seaside city has to offer. There are parks, running paths, independent shops, great restaurants, boat rides and, within walking distance in the other direction, the Gaslamp Quarter. This location enables people to see San Diego but not miss the meeting to do so.