Our team recently produced a multi-day high-profile event in Washington DC. Since there was such short lead time and an amazing amount of work to accomplish, we lovingly refer to this project as “Operation: Sleep Deprivation.” The conference was not unlike many others – an elaborate logistics puzzle planned remotely. To be brief, the event plan included multiple venues, each with their respective AV arrangements and stage build-out plans; a guest list exclusively made up of CEOs; a panel of prominent speakers; food and beverage plan; ground transportation, simultaneous translators, and hotel arrangements to go around.
From the onset, it was clear this project would be quite a challenge. Planning a project of this magnitude typically takes a year. We had weeks. We prepared ourselves accordingly – held off on beauty sleep, bolstered our shoes with extra padding and nearly bent over backwards to get the job done. I’m sure that most planners can relate and have at least one memory that could result in post-traumatic stress disorder–like symptoms. The event was a huge success and the client was beyond happy with the results and feedback. Like warriors after a battle, we survived with minor wounds, mostly stress-induced acne, and received praise for our stamina and unquestionable delivery, a moment of triumph in our ability to curtail any potential for damage or chaos.
In the end, we pulled off one heck of a conference and built a great relationship with the client. This was their first event and of course they had no idea of all the excitement that awaited them! As we muddled through the process in fast forward, we formed a close partnership with them.
I’m not certain if it was the lack of sleep but by the time we were on our third and final event day, our stress effortlessly transformed into bouts of laughter. Not because our predicament was amusing, but because of the alleged glamor that our profession tends to hold from the outside. Anyone who has not seen the inner-workings of an event process would probably be surprised at the intensity. Achieving success in circumstances like these involves hard work, commitment, teamwork and determination. Movies that portray event planners wearing Christian Louboutin heels and pastel suits, sipping on margaritas couldn’t be further from the reality cushioned by Orthotics and in dire need of a nap. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that my profession seems so glamorous from the outside. Now that I’ve shared this industry secret, I feel like I’ve broken the Magicians first rule.