Hospitality Hive

Updates, opinions, and news for anyone working in Orlando's Hospitality community

Would These Events Scare You?

Shocking Stories!

Shocking Stories!

 

Say what????

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:

  1. 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!) 

  1. "Uh, welcome to the work force?"

    “Uh, welcome to the work force?”

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)

The locker room DID NOT look like this when my group was done with it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.) 

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And then the waiter said, “Hey, I can’t help it if these people don’t clean their own plates!”

 

 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?) 

"No seriously, they couldn't have mentioned this part in rehearsal?"

“No seriously, they couldn’t have mentioned this part in rehearsal?”

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. . .

 

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Can Airline Safety be Sexy?

Whether or not you’re a frequent flyer or just occasionally visit ‘the friendly skies’ (I know use of that quote dates me but seriously, that’s what we used to call them and hey, news flash – before 9/11 many flights actually were consumer friendly and enjoyable), you’ve probably seen some of the recent safety videos offered up by most of the major carriers.  Although I’m not sure who went first, I think it might have been Virgin Airlines with this sexy, funky, crazy version released last year and now seen by over 9 million people:   

For the purists among travelers, this was quite shocking.  Not because of the content (dancing nuns, and kids putting out cigarettes – oh my!) but because they were, well, having some fun with safety.  Which poses the question, can safety be funBetter yet, should it be?  Since almost every mainstream airline now has it’s own version of this, some even with holiday offerings (thanks, Delta, for this cutie):

Many passengers are appreciating this new use of humor.  On the other hand, it is scaring the BeJesus out of some who think there is absolutely nothing fun or whimsical about strapping yourself into a 80 ton bomb (average weight of a 737) loaded with explosive fuels and about 150 (+-) strangers, many of whom are jacked up on all forms of high, low, and medium pharmaceuticals. Yeah, I thought you might see it my way.

I can almost hear the dialogue at those first marketing meetings when the concept was being pitched to airline executives:  “But seriously, if we can’t have a little fun with a passenger safety video. . .”

Say what?

Apparently every public airline out there has already answered this question by issuing their own video versions of ‘sexy safety’ because we all know that sex sells, right?  Maybe/maybe not.  One thing we do know is that these videos are providing on board entertainment as passengers settle in as opposed to the blatant ignorance many continue to show when flight attendants perform the mandatory pre-flight safety instructions and demonstrations.  Admittedly, even I’ve had an occasional flight when I was a busy fuss-budget in my seat whilst said demos are taking place, but in my defense, I’m a former flight attendant so I’ve been through the drill a few thousand times.  But as I look around me and see so many others in various stages of boredom, business, and/or just plain ‘don’t give a damn about the safety issues’, I sometimes just want to scream out loud and say, “That FA you’re ignoring right now could be your best friend if we crash this puppy!”

Gosh that felt good.

So, what do you think?  Should airline safety include some amusing and entertaining aspect, or have the airlines got it all wrong once again?  You really can’t blame them for attempting to get even a couple heads to turn and pay attention during those critical opening announcements.  But maybe some have been pushing the envelope just a little too far with their in-your-face-fun while trying to gently remind us that flying is very serious stuff.  For my money, I think that the always classy United Airlines has the right idea with their newest version of the safety video, appropriately entitled, Safety Is Global.  Watch this and see for yourself:

There now, wasn’t that a calmer, more sensible approach before launching that aforementioned 80 ton explosive bomb into the friendly skies?

 

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Welcome to the Experience Economy

Keeping up with industry buzzwords, I learned recently that we have left the SERVICE economy behind us and are now in the EXPERIENCE economy.  (Technically, this happened a few years back.  For data and details, check out the book The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore that was last updated in, um. 2011. Full Disclosure:  Not the first time I’ve been late to the party. Just sayin’ .) Anyway, here in the wonderful world of hospitality we still believe that service is king, oh yes we do! But, the current challenge is to find more and better ways of providing excellent service experiences at the same time that we’re embracing unemotional systems, policies and procedures.

See that smile?  Proof that handing over room keys makes front desk clerks happy!

See that smile? Proof that handing over room keys makes front desk clerks happy!

To put it in a hospitality-hotel nutshell, if you’re smoking your iPhone and are addicted to technology (yes, you out there, currently tapping your thumbs on your you-know-what), do you really want or care about that smile delivered with your room key at hotel check in, or would you prefer to bypass human interaction at the front desk and unlock your room with an app that you’ve downloaded on your very own hand-held piece of legal crack (aka iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, or whatever you’ve got)?

That’s just one of the new engagement technologies that’s being tested and offered in hotel prototypes.  But in that scenario, who would give you directions to the pool and health club (maybe), or lobby bar (yes!).  What’s that, you say?  You prefer to use that hotel app your swift fingers just downloaded on your hand-held crack machine, OR you could possibly/maybe just wander around and find it on your own?  Okay, but what if I, Ms. Hotel Hospitality, genuinely want to help you find it? As always, the answer lies in finding the happy medium between the ‘old fashioned’ way of providing service with a smile and meeting the new needs of technology-addicted consumers.

The latest technology in the "experience" economy at Disney World.

The latest technology in the “experience” economy at Disney World.

Speaking of ‘meeting the new needs’, most everyone has heard of the new Walt Disney World Magic Bands (are you or are you not a fan?) but is everyone embracing their use?  Not yet, but stay tuned.  And while the verdict is still out as to whether or not they are universally well-received, the point is those bands are now on the forefront of the experience economyYou ask for it and you got it.  Now, do you like it?

Your answer probably depends on your age.

So, how about you?  What other ways have you already encountered the experience economy in your life, and was it a thumbs up or down in the process? On the learning curve of happiness in hospitality, there’s one thing we know for sure – if you’re a tired, weary traveler who’s already been on the road too long and now you’re schlepping your own luggage up to the 14th floor to save a dollar only to find the lock on room #1421 won’t open no matter key nor app nor Harry Potter’s magic wand, someone is going to have to show up in person to let you into that coveted room.

Hopefully, said rescue employee will arrive with a smile and a little humility, but preferably also with a drink coupon for the lobby bar to turn this back into a more positive service experience. (Hint-hint to all you hotel employees out there.)  And let’s just hope they don’t try to send a malfunctioning security robot to do the job, at least during my lifetime.

 

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photo credit: DebMomOf3 via photopin cc