Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

No matter who you are, holidays are important. As a meeting planner, though, holidays take on a whole new dimension. They can be the inspiration for themes, the reason for an event, or even dates to avoid.

When working with any group, it is important to know which holidays you can embrace and which ones you need to avoid. In the United States, for example, scheduling a conference on or near Thanksgiving or Christmas can be very risky. Most people make plans for those holidays that most definitely do not include going to a meeting. However, holding an event in the weeks prior to either holiday (and using it as a theme) can still be successful. The timing of the event is critical. If you are too close to the holiday, you lose participants (mentally and/or physically). And, if you are too far away, then the holiday as a theme becomes less relevant.

Dealing with major holidays is not usually an issue for meeting planners, since the event sponsors are well aware of those dates and want to avoid them also. The tricky part comes in dealing with less well-known or culture-specific holidays. Do you need to avoid Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur? If you have a group with Jewish participants, you may need to. If you have Muslim participants, be aware of the restrictions imposed by that faith during the month of Ramadan as that could have a great impact on what food you serve for your event and when.

So, enjoy this holiday but spend some time learning about how any holiday can impact your meetings and conferences. [Incidentally, May 5th is also Boys Day in Japan. I think I'll celebrate with some sushi...]

- Karl Baur, CMPRDL enterprises