These disasters are a reminder that designing meetings and conferences isn’t for the inexperienced.
While you’ve been hard at work, focusing on crafting interactive programs that create meaningful experiences, some events have been descending into complete chaos. We’re guessing even your worst day on the job doesn’t come close to these four scenarios, which illustrate that planning events isn’t all fun and games.
1) The Big Cheese Festival Ran Out of an Important Ingredient.
When an attendee pays for a ticket to a cheese festival, the expectation is clear: The organizers need to deliver the dairy. Gouda, Munster, Brie, Havarti, Mozzarella — the list of cheese options should go on and on. However, when attendees arrived at The Big Cheese Festival in the English seaside town of Brighton, one ingredient was noticeably scarce. The event featured nearly no cheese whatsoever, earning The Big Cheese a one-star rating on Facebook from frustrated attendees who went home hungry.
While most organizers aim to create a sense of FOMO from people who aren’t there, this event managed to create a sense of SIWT (Sad I Was There) among those who showed up for the cheese-less celebration. “Please untag me,” David Garrity wrote. “I’m embarrassed that I was even here.”
2) A Last-Minute Donation Drive to Avoid DashCon’s Cancellation.
Here’s something you don’t expect to hear once you’re inside a convention venue: We need you to donate money if you want to stay. But at DashCon, a 2014 convention in Schaumburg, Illinois that brought together a range of people who used the microblogging platform Tumblr, that’s exactly what happened. “We do not want to let the system beat us at this point,” an organizer told the audience as she asked everyone to contribute any extra cash they could to avoid being kicked out.
The “system,” it seems, was actually a hotel contract to pay for the space, and the organizers pleaded for help from the crowd to meet a $17,000 gap in funding. Interested in watching this kind of insane request unfold? Watch the entire 12-minute ordeal here, which includes a bizarre singalong of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Want to feel the celebratory vibes of DashCon when they hit the goal? Check out the second video, which includes a singalong of “We Are the Champions.” Yes, this is real life.
3) A Crypto Conference Got Attendees High Without Any Warning.
The only event that might have needed cheese more desperately than the cheese festival was Crypto Sanctum, a $500-per-person event for anyone looking to cash in on the Bitcoin craze. Why? Because the organizers of the event decided to make a secret tweak to the F&B menu by infusing some of the food with cannabis. A lot of cannabis. According to an article in WIRED, the spiked catering sent attendees home reeling with some wondering if they had food poisoning.
Kryzsztof Gagacki, CEO of Internet of Value Omniledger, one of the companies involved with the conference, denied any role in the food selection. “The incident had a significant impact on the conference schedule, and some of our own team were so affected that they were unable to stay to the end,” Gagacki said. “It is for this same reason that I wasn’t able to give a presentation.” We bet.
How’s that for a speaker cancellation? Did the speaker miss a flight? No, he’s here. Okay, can we Skype him in? Definitely not. He’s too high to use PowerPoint.
4) The First (and Most Likely Last) TanaCon.
It takes a bit of arrogance to name a convention after yourself, but having 3.5 million YouTube followers can inflate one’s sense of self. It seems it can also inflate the belief that anyone can pull off hosting thousands of people at an event. TanaCon was the experience from the brain of YouTube star Tana Mongeau. Mongeau was frustrated that she was not designated as a featured creator at VidCon, a massive event — “for those who work in online video and those who love it,” according to its website — organized by Viacom.
So Mongeau took the logical step of organizing her own convention. Mongeau released a ranting video with a range of four-letter expletives targeting the organizers of VidCon and it seems that thousands of her fans shared her anger. Or maybe they just wanted an excuse to stop watching videos and stand in a parking lot at the Anaheim Marriott Suites.
Unfortunately, most of those fans didn’t actually step inside the building. The program, initially scheduled for two full days of doing whatever you do at a hotel meeting space with a lot of YouTube personalities and people who love them, was shut down after just six hours due to safety concerns about overcrowding. The majority of attendees spent their time earning serious sunburns and sharing images of said sunburns on social media. However, for those lucky enough to be part of the action inside the venue, all was not lost. Attendees received gift bags that included the first-ever TanaCondoms.
Looking for more can-you-believe-that-really-happened material? Take a look back at the 2017 Fyre Festival, a laugh-inducing, head-spinning crisis of epic proportions.