The classic rules of friction were first discovered by Leonardo da Vinci. While there are several types of friction, the basic definition is the force resisting the relative motion of another object. Too much friction and you get heat, fire, wear and tear, none of which is good for your association, because it’s not good for your members.
What are some examples of friction that your members may experience? Let’s take a look at one aspect of friction that many of your members experience, the friction related to your annual meetings and trade shows. Here are 10 examples that I often see:
Note to CEOs: read on, this is for you, not just for the hard-working meeting professional who is figuring out how to deal with these challenges.
- A cumbersome registration process – too many steps, lack of pre-populated member data, not knowing who you are trying to register
- Long registration lines
- Large name tags that are hung or pinned to our clothes that are dehumanizing and ugly
- Lack of good “way-finding” – difficult to get around a cavernous convention center
- No down-time built in so I feel I have to miss something to check my email or have a thoughtful conversation
- Food so bad or expensive that I have to go blocks away to get a decent meal
- Having to sit on the floor or stand along a wall in a session or to rest
- Having to carry a canvas tote bag full of stuff I don’t want
- Not having the ability, when I get home, to download the best stuff from the event so I can share with my colleagues
- An untimely thank-you note for attending weeks after I get back to the office
So, you say, I’m a CEO, or I’m an executive. These tactical issues are the responsibility of someone else.
Well, think about the last time you went into a restaurant restroom only to find it dirty, trash can not emptied and out of paper towels. Weren’t you wondering what the kitchen in that restaurant looked like? Whose job is it to make sure the bathroom is clean? Yep – the boss’s.
If you’re in charge of the meeting, you may say that a lot of these “complaints” are unavoidable, out of my control, too expensive, a reality of a mass audience experience, a fact of life. Or you may say, we have improved many of these so our members aren’t experiencing all of these points of friction.
Think for a minute about your last vacation, one on which you spent several thousand dollars. What were your expectations? How many of these negative cues/points of friction would you have to experience before you concluded that it wasn’t a great vacation. Most of the people attending your event are spending thousands to be there. True, it’s not their money in many cases, but does that make it better?
Trust me, I know how hard it is to execute a frictionless event – it’s very hard – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try harder.
The best antidote to event friction is people, people who care, who can help, who take a personal interest, who are empowered to do what it takes, who are easily identifiable, who have the information, the time and the desire to ease the friction. People are the WD40 that can help your next event run with less friction.
Here’s to the end of friction.