The recent revelations of misbehavior by different individuals and organizations has got me thinking about human nature more broadly. For each of us there’s a public side that we want others to see. It reflects our positive attributes and generates favorable responses from those around us, both personally and professionally. But there’s also another side – a darker side – which we hide from others. This dark side often is the home of those naked ‘drivers’ of behavior that we prefer to hide or disguise. It is that dark side behavior that the press craves to uncover amongst the famous and powerful.
Within the events market there’s a less nefarious form of this behavior. Event managers promote their conferences and trade shows as venues that will engage buyers, deliver wonderful experiences, and generate return-on-investment (ROI) for both sponsors and attendees. The assumption is that you’ll want to return year after year because the events offer value.
Do You Deliver to Expectations?
More often than not, however, event organizers promote a vision that the reality does not deliver. Many events fail to fulfill the promises made by their organizers, leaving both attendees and exhibitors disappointed. Why is this?
Because meeting the needs of every attendee and exhibitor is a difficult task and it may not be in the organizer’s control. Or even in their interest, given that events must find an economical “middle ground” that delivers value while making a profit. But another, less defensible reason is that some organizers will do whatever is needed to promote a particular vision for an event, with little intention of meeting the needs of the ‘buyers’, as long as the vision allows the organizer to make money. In effect, they’re cheating the very people who make running an event possible, and profitable in the long run.
Some examples of this are:
- A well-known event grew so large that it compromised the experience of attendees who struggled to get from one hall to another, were jostled by the crowds, and were required to wait in line for everything.
- An organizer saved money by eliminating a convenient exhibitor lounge with proximity to the show floor that allowed staff to rest and have lunch (on the organizer).
- Organizers who cancel conference tracks because prospective attendance is down, but disappoint those attendees who’ve registered and booked flights based on the original – marketed – agenda.
- Shows that cram extra booths into low traffic areas that will deliver poor results to the exhibitors.
Clearly, event organizers must hit their numbers. And that can mean cutting expenses. But too often the motivation comes from the dark side of the business – greed. It’s truly short-sighted thinking that compromises the future in deference to exploiting the present.
The bad news for these types of organizers is that event attendees have become more sophisticated than ever in judging value. Those organizers who fail to recognize that sophistication and fall short of delivering that value will pay the price.
Are you in danger of going to the Dark Side?