Sunday, 19 July 2009

Creature Comforts

After some serious travelling over the last few years and as a result of attending more conferences than I care to count, here is a list of some of my pet peeves about creature comforts. Why would I post something about this, you ask? Because to me creature comforts are the most important aspects of any successful meeting or event, bar none. It all comes down to basic needs, and if we are uncomfortable in any way, we tend to remember that discomfort before we remember all the good things that may have happened at the event. So here they are in no particular order:

1. Air conditioning - Maybe I'm just getting old but why can't building maintenance folks and tour bus drivers learn how to use air conditioning properly? I now take a sweater or jacket with me to every conference I attend and on every trip I take because I know for sure that once inside a conference centre or hotel or bus, I will be freezing if I don't cover up. To all event managers and tour operators and incentive travel execs, I say, "KEEP THE TEMPERATURE REASONABLE, AROUND 72F OR 23C. DON'T CRANK THE AC TO FULL FRIGID. NOBODY LIVES COMFORTABLY IN CONDITIONS LIKE THAT, NO MATTER HOW HOT IT IS OUTSIDE!"

2. Portable Washrooms at Outdoor Events - When are event managers going to learn that portable toilets must be serviced on a regular basis? I keep hearing horror stories about toilets overflowing and running out of paper and cleaner. This is not a difficult concept. They should be cleaned and serviced at least every 4 hours as a minimum, and checked regularly every 2 hours for supplies. A plumber should be on call at all times. To you managers, lack of toilet facilities can really be annoying for event attendees. Remember that! Read my latest book for more details about the proper number of toilets needed based on size and length of event and whether or not alcohol is served.

3. Beds - Am I the only person in the world who hates duvets? Why do so many hotels insist on providing these as the only available bed covers? First of all, they are WAY too hot in summer, no matter how high you crank the silly air conditioning. Why are alternatives not provided? Speaking of comfortable sleeping in hotels, why are there never any options for pillow shapes and softnesses? I have come to appreciate that pillows are very personal items and I have had far too many experiences of pillows that are too soft, too high, too hard, etc, etc. I think the first hotel chain to offer a selection of pillows will be one up on the competition.

4. F&B at Standup Events - This is a big pet peeve for me. People who attend these types of events, particularly events over a meal hour, expect to be served adequate food to make up a meal and to have drinks readily available. Far too many event managers do not provide enough food and do not spread it out enough in terms of physical locations (i.e. multiple small buffets), thus causing big lineups. The same thing with bars and drinks. Most people want to get a drink in their hands as soon as possible instead of being forced to line up at a cash bar or at a free drink station. Managers need to ensure there are either enough bars or stations or have drinks handed out by wait staff as guests arrive. That makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Oh, yes, as a final note, if it is to be a standup reception with substantial food offerings, PLEASE provide lots of high boy tables to allow guests to place their food and drinks on. Nothing is worse than trying to eat, drink, and shake hands all at once. And no, the holders for drinks that clip onto plates are awkward and do not work for all drinks (e.g. a big beer glass!).

Call me a grumpy old man if you want, but creature comforts are the key to keeping me happy - and I suspect many more people too.