A while back, I was invited to what turned out to be a great event for food bloggers. But there were some major problems. I mean, major major bad problems. And this wasn't the first time something like this has happened. I still have nightmares about the forced-feeding I went through at an event in December due to a lack of attendees and over-attentiveness of one of the organizers.
For the particular event the other month, the first major major problem was that out of the 15 people who had RSVPd, only two showed up.
I was one of them.
(And they had me down as two people. I definitely did not RSVP for two.)
Secondly, no one ever mentioned that the event would be professionally videoed (video'd?) and photographed and that I would have to sign a release form. Some of you in the blogging world might know that I do try to preserve some level of anonymity (as do many others), although this gets harder and harder every year. (Olive Magazine, I'm looking at you.) With only two bloggers in attendance (and thus only two bloggers to video and photograph), how awful did I feel about refusing to be in any of their videos or sign their release form? I know I'm not the only one who tries to stay out of pictures, so PRs, if you're reading this, please plan for this.
Things got worse…this was supposed to be a casual sit-down buffet-style meal. The corporate types in attendance (many of them) were very good about not eating and not drinking in the beginning, but once it became clear that no one else was going to turn up, they descended on the buffet like (insert appropriate metaphor for starving, famished victims of war here). While I was busy snapping away at the presentation going on, the food just VANISHED. VANISHED! I was able to have two tiny tastes of two dishes. Nice dishes. But I think the goal was for me to try everything, right? And…early in the evening, one of the organizers evn advised me to eat light because there was going to be a lot of food.
Um, I stopped for Chinese on the way home. Singapore noodles, if you must know. Quite nice.
- In the invitation, there was little explanation of what the event was actually going to be about. Very cryptic event name. I totally misunderstood the main concept, but once I saw what they were doing, it totally made sense and I thought it was really fun. (And later, when I told some other bloggers about the event, the common reaction was "OH…THAT'S what that was all about!")
- The invite told me some guy was going to be there. The invite failed to note that this guy was a pretty well-known chef in the context of his fairly well-known restaurant. I would love to say that I know the name of every chef in every kitchen, but I don't. Huge call to action missed here, and I wonder if the RSVP and attendance rate would have been better if they had said exactly who he was and that he would actually be cooking for us?
- There was no hashtag for the evening, and the Internet connection was questionable. So I made a hashtag up for them. Inviting bloggers to a room in the deep dark confines of a building where there's no wireless to make up for the spotty 3G access…dumb.
- Half-hearted follow-up. Where is the video? Where is the friendly reminder that they are anxiously awaiting my post? Um…does the client feel their money was well-spent? Seriously, if I were the client, I'd be pretty upset right now.
Two more comments and then I'll shut up. In short, I felt trapped at this event. (Some of my fellow bloggers will remember my desparate text messages that evening, pleading for them to join me.) And I was also somewhat disappointed in the 10 other bloggers who failed to show up. Why RSVP to something and then not even tell the organizers that you're not going to attend? (Note that two attendees did let the organizers know they wouldn't be able to make it shortly before the event so this doesn't apply to everyone. Although perhaps the organizers were totally crazy and just like they had me down with a guest, they had people down as attending who never said they would come.)
(Related but different, love love love this New York Times article on the death of the RSVP. RSVP or die, my friends.)
I promise…next time I get invited to a great event, I will write a post that's the exact opposite of this one…a post that highlights everything that companies do right when they host events for bloggers. I'm reminded of We Are Social, for example, who did a FANTASTIC job on their Little Break campaign last summer. Now that was perfectly executed.
But in the meantime, for the bloggers out there, what makes a great event for you? What are some of the better events you've attended? What's your event pet-peeve?