Conference Organizer Pet Peeves

This round of pet peeves is focused on the pet peeves I’ve accumulated as a conference organizer (for multiple events).  Let me be clear, there are many amazing aspects and these are my issues but you know me, always sharing:

  • Last minute cancellations:  There are absolutely situations that are truly unavoidable and merit last minute cancellations.  Yet, here are some reasons that do not make me a happy lady:  I finally asked my boss if I could go and the answer was no (DO NOT accept if you are not sure you can go).  I finally figured out the cost of attending the conference and can’t go (DO NOT accept if you haven’t looked at the cost first).  My flight was delayed (why are you flying in an hour before you should speak).  Often, organizers are unable to replace the session; which just sucks for all involved.
  • Response Time Expectation:  Please take into consideration that many organizers are doing this as a second job. I once had someone get super annoyed because I didn’t respond within the hour.  I would give anything to be able to be immediately responsive but it’s just not realistic unless this was my full time job.
  • Not being able to enjoy:  There is so much work leading up to the event. There are always a number of challenges during the event. This means that often I find myself not taking the time to enjoy the conference.  I’m going to try really hard to soak in the highlights at Agile2017 regardless of whatever is going on that needs attention.
  • Uninformed judgements:  I understand that lack of information can cause wild stories. However, we are in the Agile community, let’s give organizers the benefit of the doubt.  I was at a conference (that I didn’t organize) and I heard the most random things from “organizers are pocketing the money”, “organizers only picked their friends to speak”, “organizers don’t care about feedback”, etc.  We sign up for these roles because we care – this continues to be one of the hardest aspects for me to deal with.
  • No soda feedback:  Personally, I do not drink pop (soda, coke) very often. However, I get that I’m odd in this. I was floored to learn what hotels want to charge for a single can of pop…wait for it…at one hotel $8.00 a can. Yes, $8.00 a can.  And no, they won’t let you bring in anything from outside the hotel. Registration costs would dramatically increase if organizers had to cover that.

As much as these are pet peeves, they are mine and as a leader that doesn’t mean I get to simply judge others. Instead, these serve as opportunities for others and for me to grow. If this stuff was easy, I wouldn’t be sharing.

What are your conference organizer pet peeves?

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  9 comments for “Conference Organizer Pet Peeves

  1. July 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

    We run 4 regional Agile conferences each year and one of our organizers now has an email folder called “The Stupid Questions” LOL.

    Seriously, leading a conference is actually the biggest act of servant leadership in which you give up a good portion of your work life and family life for months. Plus its a thankless job that no one really appreciates until they do it because of all of human dynamics and expectations involved.

    Words of “thanks” may seem empty but your hard work is truly appreciated.

    Thanks for all of your dedication and looking forward to seeing you soon!

  2. bab
    July 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

    You know my biggest one, Tricia. People not reading emails.

    • Tricia
      July 24, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      LOL…I remember 🙂

  3. July 24, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    “I know that the submission window closed many weeks ago, but could you please add me to the program even though I didn’t go through the submission process like everyone else.”

    • Tricia
      July 24, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      How did I forget about this one?!?

  4. Marcy Elhamidi
    July 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Oh, yes. The “why can’t we have coffee all day” feedback. This year, AgileIndy finally bit the bullet and provided all day beverages (soda, coffee, water, tea, etc) at a very hefty price for 700 attendees. So it was no shock when the “no all day coffee/soda” complaint was replaced with the “bathroom lines were too long” complaint. Seriously, peops, some things are outside of our control. 🙂 your bathroom line is one of them.

    • Tricia
      July 25, 2017 at 7:29 am

      I really need to check out AgileIndy. I’ve heard great things.

  5. July 24, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    In a strange twist to the Response Time Expectation, the irresponsible use of the Last Responsible moment.

    Where organizers request information from others involved in an event (speakers, sponsors, etc.) in order to sew up all the details.

    And then wait…

    and wait…

    and wait…

    and…

    • Tricia
      July 25, 2017 at 7:28 am

      I should have crowd-sourced this list!

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