Whenever I tell people I plan events its always met with enthusiasm and excitement for how much fun that must be, and you know what? They are RIGHT. In the words of my first boss ever… there is NO BUSINESS like SHOW BUSINESS!
Looking back on the early days, we were in our 20’s, traveling across the United States to beautiful 5-star hotels, being pampered with suites, spa treatments, and endless amenities, having our work come alive in front of our eyes while working hand in hand with our co-workers, vendors, and hotel contacts to make ACTUAL MAGIC happen for our clients and customers. I didn’t know it then, but I was building my 2ND family, my event family, which has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. The things we have seen, survived, and overcome are battle wounds worn as badges of honor bonding us together forever. After a hard days work this same gang of magic makers would head out for dinner and drinks, and sometimes we wound up at dueling pianos in Disneyworld ripping shots and jaeger bombs until 1 am. Listen it got weird more times than it didn’t, but the late-night decisions were almost always worth the pain of 4 am alarms and hungover mornings.
From a business perspective I learned early and fast the implications of every decision and communication I made and sent. I don’t think there are many industries like events, especially event operations, where your success is determined in real-time, in front of everyone who matters both internally and externally. You are learning and adjusting as the event is happening. It’s a responsibility and a rush like few others. It has given me the ability to think quickly & effectively, to stay calm during crisis, and solve any problem presented. If you want an education in human behavior, become an event ops person (post pandemic of course). Because one day you might have a sponsor who spent 7k asking why they don’t have a room the size of a sponsor who spent 200k, and very seriously ask why you can’t move the wall (in the Hilton NY) over “just 10 feet”. Y’all that man was SERIOUS… I was seriously asked that question and I couldn’t laugh or roll my eyes or tell him to eff off… I had to solve this ridiculous dilemma professionally. Long story short he did not get what he wanted but I UPSOLD him for the next year so he could!
The truth is I loved it from the beginning… I loved it from the first day, I loved it after I was told to eff off by my first exhibitor (and I think my last), I loved it when I was on the beaches of Miami in January, and I loved it even after the freight elevators stopped working at the beginning of move-in and my decorator made hotel staff carry items up the stairs one by one. I loved it when I was signing 200 pages of BEOs on Sundays, I loved it when I was on the road for weeks on end, and I loved it after a Javits diaper broke over the only booth with graphics. I loved it when I was climbing through boneyards, I loved it when I won the daily steps contest (but are you winning if you walk the most steps?), and I loved it still when my CSM called me at midnight to alert me to a serious situation. I loved it when I was told I had to throw a rock concert using a 200’ screen (that was missing), and I loved it still when I had to hire police to make sure former employees didn’t sabotage the show (see there is truly nothing like it). I loved it when the events went seamlessly, I loved it when there was a challenge, I really loved it when there was a cute guy (ahh remember show boyfriends?), I loved it when I was exhausted, I loved it when I was in tears of frustration or anger, and most of all I loved it even when I hated it.
I have always loved it, and more so I have always known how lucky I am to be a part of it. Every career advancement has taken me a little further away from the action, but it has also given me the chance to instill that love in younger generations (lets be honest you need to be young to survive the grind of the early event career) and to create bigger and better event business because of all that I have learned along the way. These last 10 months have been hard, and the next few are looking just as rough. The hotels are empty, the registration counters are stored, the walkie talkies are off, and the suitcases are packed away, BUT this too shall pass. We will meet again, and until then i'm going to bask in the memory of the way we used to be!