• 3 Out-of-the-Box Innovations That Would Make Events Run Smoother

    POSTED May 5, 2018

    Why Isn’t This a Thing?


As an event planner, I find I get very frustrated at the registration table when attendees pick up their name tag then stop, turn around and start a tête-à-tête with newcomers. Don’t get me wrong, the point of our industry is to come together and make connections. Just don’t cause a bottleneck at the registration desk. I have a brilliant solution to this problem: sheep-herding dogs trained to herd people away from the registration desk. Have you ever tried to do this yourself? You get a dirty look, are ignored or, worse, made to feel like you are being the rude one instead of them. Them! Those people who stand in front of the desk just chatting away while people are made to reach around them to get their name tag. But if an adorable collie were to tug at your pant leg or head butt you over to a different area, would you be mad? No, you would not. So I ask you: Why isn’t this a thing? —The Cranky Planner


Have you ever produced a show before? Maybe you ran the speaker timer, or you had to hold up the two-minute warning sign and you find you’ve got a wind bag at the lectern who assumes everyone in the room is enthralled with their imparted wisdom and thinks people won’t mind putting off the lunch break for another 15 minutes. Maybe it’s an award acceptance speaker who’s full of him/herself. Whatever the reason, your passive-aggressive techniques aren’t working and Bobby Bigmouth won’t shut up. What’s the harm in giving speakers a tiny shock from an electrified podium? Just a small one, like the buzz you get from a prank handshake buzzer or when you put your tongue on a 9V battery. Nothing serious, just a little nudge to get them off stage. So I ask you: Why isn’t this a thing? —The Surly Planner


I work on a lot of award shows where people who have filled up on food and drink chat and gab throughout the entire program. Yeah, we know parts are boring. We know some people going up to the podium should be banned from public speaking, but don’t be rude. Leave the room to carry on your fascinating conversation about your mother-in-law’s undiagnosed skin rash. Since people aren’t going to magically be considerate, I’ve got the next best thing! Why not hire some tattooed, burly biker dudes with lots of muscles for your next event? They come complete with one-size-too-small black T-shirts that say “Shh!” on them. They’ll be instructed to walk up to groups of chattering magpies, stand with the group and scowl. They don’t have to say anything, just cross their arms and look intimidating. So I ask you: Why isn’t this a thing? —The Meetings Mischief Maker

The CDC defines close contact as within six feet or less, for 15 minutes or more with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. At gatherings of many kinds, contact tracing is used to trace the people that someone has come into contact with, before they learn that they have tested positive. This allows the people that the sick person came into contact with to be aware of the situation, and to make health-informed choices. 


In 2020, Houston First Corp. (HFC) reported that the city was slated to host 252 meetings and 611,000 room nights. By March 14, the Bayou City had already hosted 115 conventions and 137,400 room nights. Then the pandemic hit, and meetings and events across the country came to a screeching halt.

We asked Michael Heckman, acting president and CEO of Houston First Corp. (HFC) how the health crisis has influenced the organization’s business model moving forward.


Chances are, you won’t know you’re living through history until it’s too late. It’s already happening. A chain reaction has been set in motion and the ground has begun to slide beneath your feet.

This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. As a global pandemic sent the world reeling, planners were left grasping for footholds as the event industry was brought to a standstill, and many of the most fundamental elements of live meetings and events were cast in a new light.