The event, although a two-day event, is almost one year away. People plan weddings in a year, how hard could it be, right? Those were the thoughts of this naive guy when I took on this task. I had the honour of being the Chairperson for the annual T.T.S.A.O. conference. Team is in place, topics are chosen, financial goals are set, so far this is not too bad. I like to refer to this as the honeymoon stage.
During this stage we have a conference call every three weeks and we discuss ideas on topics we want to cover, whether it’s a single person, a panel setting and how many different topics we are going to cover over a two day event. So far all is good, this isn’t too bad. Now we slowly start to build up our tempo, one goal is to have our agenda out to the industry six months in advance of our event. It’s all sunshine and smiles. This stage is fun, getting our name out and getting excited about the event even though it’s nine months away. This is not taking up too many hours to plan, this is fun.
The Honeymoon is Over
Wow the honeymoon stage went fast. Things are ramping up, team calls are every two weeks, sub-committee calls are on a weekly basis, lots of emails. The emails, phone calls and planning is more than I thought it would be at this stage and we are still six months out.
On a personal note the company I work for has seen a 500% growth in Western Canada and I need to spend some time out there, my mother who has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for two and a half years passes away on June 30th, 2019. I traveled to Newfoundland 7 times last year to help my father and to get things in order.
The planning just got real. As the growth of the company I work for is my main concern but so is the commitment I made to the T.T.S.A.O. I didn’t think I would be a tightrope walker at this stage of my life. Our conference calls are now every two weeks and we are about four months out. The agenda has been set, panels and individual speakers have been informed of the time they will be on. Slowly the pressure is building up not only for myself but the team as well. Everybody is committed to make this the best conference to date both financially and content. A lot of pressure on myself, first time as chairperson, first time this is a full two-day event and failure is not an option.
We are now less than 90 days out to the event. Calls are now on a weekly basis and sub-committee calls are at times two times per week. There are so many things behind the scene that so many people do not see, the committee members emailing or making several phone calls a day to get sponsors and delegates to the event. The help from other organizations such as the P.M.T.C. to help with registration over the two days, Quest Consulting and their help with the conference calls and helping with administration tasks. Tent cards for sponsors, posters showing what is happening at any given time of the day. Printing of the brochures, ordering of the food, getting alcohol permit for the event, order linens, appetizers for the cocktail party, name tags and about 200 other minor details that can make or break the event.
The four weeks leading up to the event is phone calls almost every day. Conference calls with all panelists, sub-committee calls, calls and visits to the catering team. This has turned into a full time job.
This is a term we use as football officials, we ask one another the day of a football game, “What day is it”? IT’S GAME DAY. A year in the making, the team is pumped, everything looks great. Big Problem, the caterer tells me that I placed the order for the cocktail party for day two and not day one, where’s the bathroom? But before I do that how do we correct this? I mean the bartenders need to be booked, linen date changed, glassware ordered. After about an hour everything was rescheduled for day, the catering service at I.H.S.A. are miracle workers. Day one was a long day, but all presenters and panelists did an amazing job.
Game Day # 2
I am feeling a little more confident today but as luck would have it this is the third time out of five years that we have a bad snowstorm. The room is full with 125 delegates, plenty of food, snack and beverages. The content of every session is on point and very informative. I am hearing a lot of positive feedback from delegates about the content and how happy they are.
I want to take this time to thank all the T.T.S.A.O. conference committee members as without everyone’s help and commitment this would not happen. Year over year the conference becomes stronger, bigger and better.
Stay tuned to see updates for next year’s conference. Mark your calendar for February 24th & February 25th, 2021 for the sixth annual T.T.S.A.O. Striving For Excellence Conference.
Be Great! Be Safe!