I will share cool stuff I find about people I trust with you, and then you can share cool stuff back, and then we'll keep it all on the web site in a kind of a search-able library thing so other people looking for cool ideas can find them… and maybe they will add some ideas of their own, maybe not… but at least they will know they can always find cool stuff they can trust when they need it… and if enough people share all that cool stuff, then everyone will be happy.
You are tasked with finding a luxury hotel for an important meeting in a city you’ve never been. You know the big brands and can search for them by brand in each city… BUT… that leaves a lot of really cool choices off the table. When given a search by one of my “search clients”, I am able to find lots of great places they have never heard of because, having been in the biz for over 40 years (crazy), I have connections with Global Sales Offices for both the big guys and the little guys. If you don’t have sales reps for all the brands, then I suggest you take a look at the following, bookmark their web sites, and remember to check with them next time you have an event in one of the cities in their portfolio. These are not in any particular order of preference, so we will randomly start with…
During it’s nearly thirty-year history as America’s premier maximum security prison, thousands of the nation’s most incorrigible prisoners spent day and night trying to figure out how to escape the 22 acres of living hell. Irony being what it is, you can now pay to go there and have fun while learning valuable team building skills.
Picture this… and I am not making this up… back in the day, prisoners sent to “The Hole” tried to keep their sanity by ripping a button from their uniform, tossing it into the darkness, and then crawling around on hands and knees to find it… and repeat….and repeat.
Imagine you are in a submarine lodged in a seabed fissure. If you can’t find a way out, you will sink like a rock and suffer a horrible death by suffocation. Or maybe you and your colleagues (that you don’t really know very well) stumbled into the wrong village only to find that it is about to be taken over by werewolves.
I have enough problems of my own without inventing any new ones, but oddly enough there are a lot of people who not only find this kind of horrific dilemma valuable as a team-builder, but also think it’s fun. If you are one of those, then welcome to SCRAP ENTERTAINMENT and The Real Escape Game.
I usually try and keep each blog to a specific subject like team-building, or helpful on-line resources for meeting planners, or whatever. But… it’s the end of summer and I am feeling lazy so I am just going to throw a bunch of “stuff” out there (as in a little bit of this and a little bit of that), and sort it out later in the web site library.
Some Team Building Stuff
Hawaii… This recommendation comes courtesy of Joan Palmtag with Meet Hawaii (and she knows what she is talking about). Joan said… “There is an untapped source for inspiration and team building on the Kailua side of Oahu called Kualoa Ranc
I used to take reasonably good care of myself, but now that I am north of 60-ish I figured it is time to relax and let things slide. The hope is that by the time I am done I will still have enough range of motion to be able to reach the TV remote. The jury is still out on my decision… fingers crossed (and so far, I can still cross my fingers). Anyway… for people who think that is a bad idea and that practicing wellness makes you (and/or your team) happier, smarter, and more productive, then here is an outfit that can definitely help…
Reflecting on the co-operative spirit of our times and the deep currents of understanding and respect evident in our political process, I thought it would be appropriate to interview people from every side of the Meeting Planning biz and ask them the question, “What is the most difficult part of your job”?
Perhaps if we walk for a moment in “the other guy’s shoes”, we may learn what obstacles our business partners (whether they be clients or vendors) have to overcome in order to have the best possible outcome, and thus foster a sense of shared commitment.
Put more simply… if we understand each other, cooperate, and everyone gets what they need, then everyone is happy. Well, except the people who are never happy. Must be difficult for them.
Why It’s A Really Good Idea To Get Out Of Your Office
First of all… I have no idea if it is true. Second, it’s probably not (except for the hell-in-a-hand-basket thing) and third… if it is true, well, being an old guy, I will be dead (relatively) sooner rather than later and I don’t want to live in that world anyway, so good luck with that. I digress.
The reason I am writing about this is we just completed the 15th Annual San Francisco All Things Meetings Reception & Tradeshow where we brought together about 165 meeting planners and introduced them to 100+ exhibitor vendors representing every aspect of the industry (hotels, venues, CVBs, DMCs, Team Builders, AV Production Companies, Trade Show Booth and Prop Designers, Meeting Technology Companies, Transportation companies, Banner makers, Gift Amenity providers and “more”).
Definition of Terms. Putting a hay bale and a wagon wheel on the buffet table and handing everyone a red kerchief and cowboy hat when they arrive is not a Theme Party. It’s what we professionals in the business refer to as “a stupid waste of money”.
My apologies go out to Directors of Catering Everywhere. But to calm everyone down, I am not saying that having incredible décor is not a great thing to have at your event. There are some amazing things available to make the party elegant or fun or crazy. It’s just not a theme party (by my definition and hey, this is my blog).
I am Not a Third Party. Here are some reasons you might want to use one.
For thousand of years, philosopher/planners have long debated whether they plan large events themselves or hire an “expert” to help.
You may not have known this, but during the first Olympics it was decided to save some drachma and the whole shebang was assigned to an EA. Not that they weren’t supremely qualified in their job… but this was something they knew nothing about (although they may have thought they did). “What could be so hard”, they said. “Just hire a caterer (everyone loves lamb), a band (can we get Orpheus?), invite everyone on the list, big guys will wrestle, and we’ll have a party. I love parties”.
Well, as it turned out, the Athenians were seated next to the Spartans (AWWWKward!!!), the Discus-Throwers sign had to be hand-chiseled at the last minute (talk about overtime – and if you think unions are tough, try dealing with the stone-cutters guild on a weekend)...
Last month I mentioned the new Auberge-managed resort in the Costa Rican mountains that, among many other wonderful features, also has a world-class stable. I thought… I write about a lot of things that meeting and incentive planners can use, so here are some of my favorite North American luxury retreats… perfect for small meetings, retreats, incentives, team-building (and all of that jazz)… that have good horses. I want to go.
Whenever planners get together to talk shop, or for that matter, whenever anyone finds out the business I am in, the question invariably arises… what’s the best place you ever stayed?
I am completely biased. “But Neil”, you say, “we trust you to give us an unbiased opinion on all of the really cool things out there for us meeting planners to use and share. How are you biased (say it ain’t so)?” “OK”, I say…”I’ll tell you. I am biased in two big ways… 1) I really, really like high levels of service and 2) I like people I have known for a long time that have never steered me wrong (the trust thing).”
This month’s editorial?. I’m pretty sure I like them but, being new, I have never actually stayed at any of them. How can I recommend them? Two reasons… 1) Their brands have always provided me with a high level of service and 2) I trust the people who have told me about them.
Not that I would ever book a group anywhere, site un-seen, but at least these new properties will make it into my “consideration set” when I recommend a destination to one of my clients (and forgive me for using the phrase “consideration set”).
In the same way that the universe is continually expanding (or so I am told), I am compelled to continually add to and expand my web site’s Libraries. It’s a force of nature. Found two very interesting ones…
Micebook.com. Yes, that is its name, and for those of you snickering about it, MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events. At least that is what I think it stands for since everyone seems to have a different answer for the C and E… but close enough for jazz.
(Like Love) Team building is one of those things that mean something different to everyone. To the Organizational Development guy, Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but also learn to trust and support one another and respect one another's individual differences.
You know, that team building stuff. On the other end of the spectrum… let’s call them Company Outings. As much fun as they are, taking your group to a Giant’s Game is not really team building in the true sense of the word. It’s fun, and a good thing, and let’s people get to know each other as real people, not just as fellow workers… but still…it’s a company outing (side-note…take me).
If I am an “attendee” and hear the event organizers announce team building, my brain groans and I think… "Can’t I just go back to my room and take a nap... or since I don’t have a TV at home, can I just find some Cops re-runs on Cable, lay on the bed, and relax until it’s time for the reception?"