In the latest issue of Meeting News, a trade publication for for meeting planners, the front page article talks about the growing problem of finding that your meeting has been placed in a ball room right next door to an “alternative-lifestyle” group of some kind.
You’ve planned your insurance industry junket for months, but when you get there, you find that walking around the halls are a bunch of leather and chains fetishists, or swingers, or sex toy enthusiasts or whatever. They’re making out in the halls, wearing nothing but boots and a hat, etc. According to irritated meeting planners in the article, this is a growing problem. Meeting attendees report being deeply offended, and overall, your conference is now a failure.
So what to do? The magazine says you have to really grill the convention staff because the alternative lifestyle meeting market is extremely lucrative (attendees spend a lot at the bar and buy a lot of massages), but the conference centers don’t want to give up their run-of-the-mill meetings of vacuum salespeople either.
First of all, if you end up in this situation, does the conference center owe you a refund? Was it implied in your agreement that there would not be a grown man in nothing but chaps at the urinal next to you in the bathroom? Or is it really the meeting planners fault? It will be interesting to see how the market handles this in the long run. The article tells us that you’ll find alternative lifestyle crowds at even the most upscale conference center – so you can’t assume your conference will be safe. I can only guess that eventually, the market will provide conference centers that cater to specific “moral sensibility levels.” Perhaps.