FLOAT's Top Ten Most Memorable Moments - Honorable Mention
"The Stupid Shuffle"
As in life, no matter how much planning you do when it comes to FLOAT, there are always issues that arise that cannot be avoided. But when the hotel your convention is being hosted at double books your space and you're suddenly trying to figure out what to do, all the planning might as well go right out the window.
Unfortunately, this has happened twice over the course of the five official FLOAT events. The first time it occurred was in 2009 while at the Great Wolf Lodge near Cincinnati, Ohio. The convention had actually secured all the event space there at the hotel, but the event planners from the venue asked if we would be willing to share a small bit of the space with another event. They were only talking about one break out room, so we figured that would be easy enough to deal with for one afternoon; it would simply mean changing around one classroom, so it wouldn't be that large of an inconvenience.
What we didn't know was that while their records showed one break out room, in was in fact one room that was created out of FOUR break out rooms! Suddenly nearly a third of our venue space was completely taken over by another event, and we found ourselves scrambling all over the place trying to relocate classrooms. As you can imagine, this caused all kinds of confusion, and students and teachers alike felt the brunt of the blow.
While the situation in 2009 was on a much larger scale, the Diet FLOAT event in Miami in 2011 suffered a similar yet far more frustrating incident. Diet FLOAT was plagued with problems from the moment we arrived: the hotel was overbooked room-wise so we were shuttled off to another hotel the night we arrived, we suffered all kinds of set backs related to supplies, shipping and the like, the hotel double and even triple charged us for certain expenses and the overall turn out ended up being well below budget. But the final blow came the morning of Diet FLOAT's second day when we arrived to our classroom only to discover another group of well-dressed men standing outside and clamoring around.
Yes, the hotel double booked our space, but now we were taking flack from two sides. On the one hand, we were getting grief from the businessmen throwing around their contract in our faces (until we showed them OUR contract and discovered we had in fact secured the space first.) But in a final act of disrespect, we received all kinds of abuse from the HOTEL as well!
This particular hotel on the beach in Miami was a huge tourist destination, and as such frequently took the approach of "Well, if you don't like it, go somewhere else. There are X number of people waiting for your room..." when it came to customer service issues. And this incident was no exception. The banquet manager, eager to please the local well-funded businessmen bent over backwards to apologize, offered them all kinds of compensation and made a huge scene for their benefit.
Our event, on the other hand, was literally treated as if we were discount shoppers clammoring about for a blue light special at Tiffany's, despite the fact that we were the ones actually in the right over the incident. The banquet manager made her dislike for our event VERY clear in front of all our attendees, and at one point even said how much she didn't care about the problems we were experiencing when confronted by our production team. We were absolutely floored!
In the end, there was a lot of open space in the hotel, so we offered to be moved to another room, much to the delight of the businessmen who strutted around as if they had just secured a hostile takeover. But the overall complete and total disregard we were presented with by management at the Holiday Inn - Miami Beachfront Hotel will live on as possibly the single most aggravating moment in FLOAT history.