Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 2012

Other Duties as Assigned: The Camel Checks In

Joe Goldblatt, FRSA, Executive Director, International Centre for the Study of Planned Events, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Scotland
When I produced an Arabian Nights event for a local association in Washington, D.C., the organizers requested that we feature a live camel at the end of the evening. The camel would appear inside the grand ballroom and pose for photographs with the guests. I contracted for a camel with the professional performing-animal company that provides camels for the annual Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular nativity scene.

The camel was delivered to the hotel without incident. However, the next morning when I asked my staff, who had been on-site for the event, how the camel was received, they told me there had been a problem.

The camel had balked at entering the freight elevator to ascend to the grand ballroom. When a camel refuses to budge, there is no way of remedying the situation without injuring the animal and perhaps others. However, my clever staff member proudly explained to me that the camel trainer offered to lead the animal in through the front door of the hotel and up the stairs to the grand ballroom.

As this was the only option, the camel did indeed enter the lobby — where there were millions of dollars’ worth of furnishings and artwork — lumbered past the front desk, and up the stairs to meet Mayor Marion Barry, who was Washington, D.C.’s mayor at the time, as well as other dignitaries. The camel left several small deposits as he left the ballroom, but these were quickly cleaned up by the attentive hotel staff.

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