In the third installment of “Meetings Horror Stories,” we heard even more of the crazy things that can go wrong in the meetings world, including a midnight wake-up call, a last-minute F&B mishap and the challenges—and sheer terror!—of executing a large event in spite of a natural disaster.

Read on ... if you dare!

Fountain Frolickers

Fountain White Silhouette on Orange/Yellow/Red Square BackgroundA corporate meeting planner from Chicago tells her horror story of a 2 a.m. wake-up call…

I had a group at a theme park convention hotel in Orlando. At approximately 2 a.m. I was awakened by a call to my room. I answered and it was security on the other end.

“Are you ‘[my name]’ with ‘[my company]’? And are you the event planner?” security asked. I replied yes to all the questions. He then said, “Could you come down to the lobby and get your meeting attendees out of the fountain?”

Apparently, a group of people had too much to drink that night and decided to have some fun and were frolicking in the fountain.

I sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll be right down.”

Then I said, “Wait a minute. How do you know they are MY attendees?”

The security officer on the phone paused and then replied, “They’re wearing their name badges, ma’am.”

So I got dressed, went down to the fountain, and of course no one was there anymore. 

Bento Boxes Gone Bad

Bento Box White Silhouette on Orange/Yellow/Red Square BackgroundPatti J. Shock, CPCE, educator, author and academic consultant for The International School of Hospitality, shares what went wrong when the wrong colors were used for lunch…

I was a speaker right before lunch at one of our niche meeting industry associations at a major hotel in Las Vegas. The group graciously invited me to stay for the lunch, so I sat at a table and started chatting up my tablemates.

We waited, and waited, and waited, but no lunch. I began wondering what was going on. Finally, the servers emerged and started placing these awful looking plates in front of us. The food looked like it was thrown on the plates.

I couldn’t imagine what the issue was. Everyone was bewildered.

[Meetings Horror Stories I: Wild Horses, Dead Doves and a Near-Disastrous Lunch]

After the event, I ran into the director of catering in the prefunction space. Since I knew him, I walked over and asked what had happened. He was beside himself.

It turned out that the lunch was supposed to be served in red, lacquered bento boxes. At the last minute, the lunch sponsor saw the bento boxes were red and demanded the food be removed. The sponsor’s color was blue, and their major competitor’s color was red.

Because of that, the sponsor would not allow the food to be served in red boxes!

When a Tornado Strikes, the Alcohol Flows

Tornado White Silhouette on Orange/Yellow/Red Square BackgroundSandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM, is now retired, but she tells of a past event that ventured to the dark side…

I was planning an auction fundraiser north of Toronto for a really good cause, which was held in a hockey arena in the middle of summer. Ticket sales were great, auction items were fabulous, the band and emcee were set.

I drove up the day before, went to bed, and when I woke up, the lights didn’t work, the shower didn’t work—what the…?! I tried to call front desk, but of course the room phone didn’t work, either.

So I got dressed and walked to front desk to find out what was going on.

“Miss, look outside the window, we got hit with a tornado last night,” was the response I got. Seems I’d slept through it!

[Meeting Horror Stories II: An Event Arrest, a Mad Magician and a Celebrity Mix-Up]

I then hopped in my car, drove to the arena and yup, nothing was working.  My client decided the show must go on, despite the danger. She hopped in her car, found the hydro men trying to get power back up and told them they must get power up and running to the arena right now!

Well, their concern was restoring power to the local hospital. Oh, and she was upset that the local radio and television stations couldn’t broadcast—because they didn’t have power either. And I suspect if they did, they had more important work to report on!

I wanted to reschedule in the name of safety, but nope, the show must go on.

We set up pretty much in the dark, which was dangerous. I mean, we had boats, tents, etc., in the auction. The band went acoustic, which was kind of cool. There was no food, since there was no refrigeration or way to heat anything up. But the alcohol flowed.

I could go on, but you get the picture. A few people showed up.

Me? I just wanted to go home and shower!

Do you have any meetings horror stories to share? Contact Kate Cripe. Your story could make it into a future issue of Meetings Today and/or be featured on the website.

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