Having some fun this week in the spirit of Halloween, so I’m sharing some shortened versions of “scary event stories” that have happened to professionals, myself included, who work in this industry. To be clear, these stories are all true. But, in the spirit of ‘protecting the innocent’, I’m not divulging any names/places. Not now. Not never!
What I can tell you is that as a veteran planner in this industry, there’s no need to make this stuff up because crazy things really do happen all the time, everywhere meetings and events are held. And yes, even here in Orlando. Just ask any one of the over 200,000 hospitality employees that live and work here.
So there follows, strictly for your amusement, a couple of fun stories that might put a smile on your face as you learn a little more about challenges faced by meeting planners:
- WHAT HAPPENED TO MY WAITERS?
“One time I had a group of about 2000+ attendees in a convention center [IMPORTANT NOTE: NOT ORLANDO!] that was experiencing union labor issues. As a result, all the wait staff walked off the floor to join the union protest prior to the start of my food function, and before long our banquet hall was invaded by newly hired (er, should we say, newly drafted?) workers that turned out to be inmates from a state work-release program. We knew this to be true due to their, umm, orange uniforms and (gulp) the connecting chains we found that had been shed in a back hallway prior to them being released into my ballroom to complete the job.” (Quick, hide the knives!)
2. ROCK STARS AND FOOTBALL PLAYERS – NOT A GOOD MATCH!
“My VERY famous celebrity entertainment had a VERY good time in the locker room after their afternoon rehearsal in the football stadium we had rented for our corporate show. Let’s just say this involved not only my well-known and highly paid talent but also some football players who were not even supposed to be there since they obviously had no scheduled game that night. I know what went on for many reasons, not the least was that I could smell the incredibly pungent smoke as we got close to the locker room prior to the show, and then found plenty of tell-tale signs that ‘interesting stuff’ had been going on in that locker room!” (Yeah, get ready to rumble with good times in the entertainment world)
3. OMG – WHO TRAINED THESE PEOPLE?
“While my speaker was presenting on stage, our wait staff was busy clearing the tables and scraping food off the lunch plates onto a pile on the floor – yes, floor! – all done up front, stage right in plain view of everyone, including the poor speaker who was actually left speechless until a banquet captain was able to finally stop the fiasco.” (Uh, I’m speechless with this one, too.)
4. UH, HELLO STAGEHANDS? CAN ANYBODY SEE ME UP HERE?
“My talent was rigged to perform in the ballroom from a flying-over-the-audience stance, and something went terribly wrong during his last minute lift so that he was actually hanging upside down when the curtains were opened. But to his credit, he sang his heart out in that position and completed the number in character while the audience got an even better than expected show!” (Took the term, ‘the show must go on!’ quite literally, don’t you think?)
And that’s just a sampling of interesting you-won’t-believe-this-really-happened stories. There’s plenty more where these came from, and yes, I’m already working on compiling some of the best into a book. Puts a little different meaning to the term ‘scary event’, but this is the reality of working in this industry, and as mentioned, I’m only sharing in the spirit of this week’s holiday.
Who knows – maybe something scary will happen at your Halloween party? Planners beware. . .