I am thankful that my job does not involve a lot of travel. I realize there are some perks that come with the “road warrior” lifestyle, but as a former boss of mine once said: “Once you close your hotel room door, it no longer matters which chain you are in. They all become the same.” But at the end of October, I get to travel to Los Angeles for ACC’s Annual Meeting.
For you non-association folks reading this, there are a few rules association staff live by when we travel to our meetings. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you a peek into our mindset.
- Always presume a member is on your flight, in the shuttle or waiting to check in at the hotel’s front desk. You are already on duty.
- Once you put on your ACC identifier (this year, it’s a red vest), smile at everyone in the hallway. Until your members are wearing their badges and complimentary tote bags, just presume that everyone you see belongs to your meeting. Yes, we know there are often simultaneous meetings going on in one location, but prudence wins out every time.
- Working the registration desk is hectic and can be stressful, but it makes the time go by much faster. And, you get to meet many members.
- The staff office is just for staff. We don’t really want members to know how the meeting sausage is made.
Attending ACC meetings as staff members gives us insights that we would not otherwise know. While we spend a lot of our time interacting with you on site, we spend almost as much time observing. We see those of you who like to get to the meeting room first to claim your spot. We see you trying to juggle being out of the office and wanting to stay available to help your team back home. We notice the jet lag on the faces of our members who travel through many time zones to attend the world’s largest gathering of in-house counsel. We see the joy on your faces when you run into colleagues or meet someone you’ve been corresponding with. We see and hear your in-depth discussions about how to improve and stay ahead in your profession.
After all of the prep work that goes into a meeting, especially an annual meeting, there is a sense of relief once it’s over and everyone heads home. There is also a slight sense that the meeting bubble has burst and we all must head home and implement what we have learned. The staff learns different things than the attendees, but our goal always remains to exceed your expectations.
So, if it seems like we are watching you intently, we probably are. Remember, we are there to exceed your expectations. See you in LA.