Confessions of a Compulsive Conference-Goer: Where’s My Onesie?

business events logoAndrew writes a monthly column for Business Events News (BEN) called “Confessions of a Compulsive Conference Goer” in which he discusses issues and observations from the conference front-line”
Business Events News is part of the Travel Daily group of publications which also include: Travel Daily, Cruise Weekly & Pharmacy Daily.

Andrew Klein, director of SPIKE Presentations, presents his front line observations on conferences in a regular feature in BEN.

COSTUME NIGHT. Two words that inspire dread and downright horror in the minds of any sane conference-goer.

As delegates flick through the conference invite email, most will inevitably sigh loudly upon seeing that dress-up is required. The wheres my onesiesconference world’s answer to Rugby League’s “Mad Monday” celebrations. Yet I have a confession to make. I kind of like them. Pirates, Wild West, Sci-Fi, 70’s, Movie Stars – I say “bring it on!!!” And before you judge me harshly and decide that it’s people like me who lead to people like you scouring the local costume shop for a KISS wig and costume, let me explain.

Like most of you, the thought of getting dressed up in ‘fancy dress’ does not excite me. Searching the local $2 shop for a cheap Dracula cape and teeth is not my idea of a fun day out. And the thought of schlepping a Wizard’s outfit to Hamilton Island does not fill me with excitement.

And the idea that I need to walk through the public hotel lobby out to the pool area in a tight ABBA outfit is not why I got into the conference industry all those years ago. But what I love, despite the curses and complaints that lead up to the night, is the impact it always has on the camaraderie of the conference. I’ve never seen them fail.

The ice is broken immediately, the inherent awkwardness of having to meet and mingle with your co-workers or even total strangers from your industry association dissipates in one instant. The conference dinner becomes what it should be – an opportunity to network and connect with new people.

Everyone laughs when another ‘character’ arrives, immediately you have a conversation starter and ultimately conference stories and legends are born. Years later people will still be recalling “that Bollywood Night when Noel dressed as Mahatma Gandhi” or wondering “what the sales guys will do this year after last year’s effort as The Wiggles?” And while I admit doubting my commitment to my client recently as I stood in the searing Gold Coast heat dressed in a full-length Wookie costume, I knew that it was all for the good of conference camaraderie.

So next time you are stuffing a Penguin Onesie into your suitcase ortrying on that Austin Powers outfit, remember it’ll be alright on the night.


© Andrew Klein 2014