Monday, February 11, 2019

Planning for Staff Dinners

This week we had a planning meeting for our upcoming Annual Conference. Because our Annual Conference is popular with members this year, and because we ran out of sleeping rooms at our conference hotel, we've moved our staff to another property about a mile and a half down the road. This, I think, appropriately prioritizes the sleeping rooms for our members attending the conference and avoids the awkwardness that can arise if a member, having been turned away from the conference hotel, discovers that up to seven association staff people are staying at the property in their place.

The meeting was a typical one for our planning cycle -- its purpose being a detailed walk-through of the entire event with all the staff attending, and making sure that the right people are assigned and aware of their need to be in the right places at the right times. Only one thing was different, and that was the fact that we were all staying in another property, meaning that we had to be much more deliberate about the time and timing associated with transfers from one hotel to the other.

We figured it out. But one additional thing that became apparent as we went through the exercise was the need to specifically plan for staff dinners on the appropriate nights.

This was something we didn't usually need to discuss in such a meeting. Once on-site, experience had shown, nightly plans would typically come together organically. Hey, Leslie made reservations for 7:00 o'clock tonight. We're all meeting in the lobby at 6:45. Pass the word. It worked because we were all in the same place (sometimes our sleeping rooms even being all on the same floor), and it was easy -- and simpler -- to slap something together at the last minute.

But, this year, with a van taking different staff people back and forth at different times of day and night, we realized that if we were going to come together for our traditional staff dinners, we would need to make some decisions now and get them on everybody's calendars.

And that's exactly what we did, with different people volunteering to make advance reservations for each night, sometimes at the conference hotel, other times at the hotel we were all sleeping in, and sometimes out on the town.

It was while we were doing this that it struck me -- more so than it ever had before -- how important these staff dinners were to our success and sanity. Making plans in advance was not only necessary this year, it was probably something that should be done every other year as well. After the long days we would all be working, it was at these dinners where we would let our hair down a little, make non-ironic toasts to our success, and sincerely celebrate the teamwork that is required if we're going to pull off something as complicated and important as our Annual Conference.

That's something we shouldn't be leaving to chance, don't you think?

+ + +

This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

Image Source

No comments:

Post a Comment