On todays show Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events & Media interviews Kristi Casey Sanders about PlanYourMeetings.com. PlanYourMeetings.com has many resources for any type of meeting planner, independent planners and executive assistants. From a Blog to online articles to live events to online communities. They also have a YouTube channel and a community site. Also you can follow Kristi on twitter like we do. www.twitter.com/PMYLive
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Female: You are listening to the Meetings Podcast with Mike McAllen, Jon Trask and Tom Hillmer. The Meeting Planner podcast source for what’s new and exciting in the meetings and events industry. The information and opinions expressed in this podcast are of Mr. McAllen, Mr. Trask and Mr. Hillmer and are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of their past, present or future employers.
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Mike McAllen: Welcome back to Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen from Grass Shack Events and Media and today, we have Kristi Casey Sanders from Plan Your Meetings. Hi, Kristi.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Hey, how you doing?
Mike McAllen: Thank you for taking the time out to talk to me today.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Oh, no problem. No, I’m very excited that we got in touch and we got the chance to schedule the …
Mike McAllen: So we’ve been chatting on Twitter and we’re both going to be heading out to – well, you’re already there, the MeetDifferent Conference at MPI which should be fun.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes. What I love is that we’re both riot nerds, part of the whole, the nerd challenge here at the earth, I think where you – it’s not just six degrees of separation. It’s – if you feel like talking to the editor of Marvel Comics, you can.
Mike McAllen: It’s true, it’s true. It is. We are, we are. We’re nerds. That’s great. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Sure. I’m the Editorial Director and Chief Storyteller for Plan Your Meetings and that means that I’m responsible for all the content so we are an educational and social resource for people who plan meetings and events and everything we do is designed to help them plan better meetings and events and so the content that we create, we have an annual publication that we designed as a keepsake guide. The idea behind it is that you could pick up this magazine and even if you’ve never planned before, be able to have a good place to start and best practices and come always from innovative ideas. Then we also have a website on PlanYourMeetings.com and we publish digital editions of the new content on the website which goes out in an e-news e-mail once a month and then we also have bimonthly best practice letters about different topics like green meetings or offshore meetings or, you know, very specific things that you may not have thought about and kind of get more specific into that. We have a lot of industry news. We have a social network. We have a YouTube channel so a lot of times when I travel, I write the majority of the destination guides so that I’m in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I might take my video camera with me and do a little site tour so that our audience can see what the property looks like and talk to the people that they’ll be working with.
I talk to a lot of people who work behind the scenes and maybe a banquet manager or somebody who does entertainment in New York and so, occasionally on my blog post, I’ll have interviews of people who are at your service, who are there to make your events better and to make your events flawless. I also create content for educational seminars that I travel on and speak both at our live event because we do have a live educational component of what we offer planners as well as speak at different industry events. So there’s a lot going on.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: There’s traditional and the new media in all of its forms are – I’d like to think of ourselves as connectors. We connect people who plan meetings and events to resources, to ideas, to best practices and I’ll start off with a very niche audience and it’s kind of exciting to see other people who weren’t part of that nugget of non-titled corporate planners and start to kind of get what we’re doing and join us. It’s really exciting.
Mike McAllen: Okay, cool. So who are the – what’s the typical person that would – what’s your typical demographic of – that would use your site? Who are you looking for? I mean, you set meeting planners but it sounds like a lot of meeting planners might already know some of this stuff. Does that …
Kristi Casey Sanders: Well, to tell you a little bit about how we got started, Plan Your Meetings was started about 14 years ago. In the early 90s during that recession, a lot of companies were trying to tighten their belts and so what happened, was they eliminated – the Meeting Planning Departments and the HR Departments first and so, what happened was hotels no longer knew who in the organization planned the meetings because it used to be that somebody would have a title Meeting Planner or Event Coordinator or Events Director or Director of Special Events and all of a sudden, all those people disappeared and what happened was their job didn’t disappear. The responsibility for planning the offsite sales training, the incentives, the – those jobs didn’t disappear. What happened was they were reassigned to somebody who was higher to be the receptionist or so-and-so’s executive assistant. And there’s about 80% turnover at that level. And so even if you did find somebody, you didn’t know who was doing that next year.
Mike McAllen: Right.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And our owner. Tom Casey was a pretty large figure in the hospitality field in Atlanta. He had been the publisher of Atlanta Magazine twice. He at the time, was the owner of Where Atlanta which is – you know, when you go to a hotel, you see a Where magazine that tells you where to go, where to shop, where to dine and he owned the Atlanta one and the Scottsdale Where and the Atlanta Hotel industry came to him and said, “Look, we don’t know who our contacts anymore but we know that business is out there and there are no magazines that are trying to reach this audience,” because, you know, a lot of publications that you see in the meetings field. They are plugged into an association or they buy the list of the association but these people who are hired to, you know, be the administrative assistant and plan meetings, they don’t know necessarily know that MPI exists or an ASAE or a PCMA and so, at that level, you have – you’re missing a lot of people if you’re only looking at that level. And so, you know, for the past 14 years, we have a full time staff that that’s their job is just to find out who these people are and to cultivate that audience and out of necessity because of their situation and because of the alienation they felt within their companies and, you know, they weren’t necessarily considered the high person on the totem pole.
A lot of our education and a lot of our resources are geared towards empowering them and educating them so we work really closely with the Convention Industry Council to make sure that our educational seminars, that our live events are accredited so if you are working towards getting your CMP or any other kind of designation that you can get the ease from attending.
Mike McAllen: That’s great, that’s great.
Kristi Casey Sanders: So, yes, we had a couple of live events last week and it was really cool because some of the feedback from the planners was one person said, “Thank you so much for helping me get my CMP and another person told us that they will always skip work to attend our events because, you know, it’s hard out there and a lot of these people have to take personal time off to come to the events or to join us because their bosses don’t see the value of them getting out of the office. So …
Mike McAllen: So tell me a little bit more about the events themselves.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Sure. What we noticed a couple of years ago is that the old tradeshow model didn’t work. People standing around at booths hoping people showed up, trying to cram as many exhibitors and [00:07:58] as possible was a recipe for instant failure before the event even happened. And so we really looked at – if we are going to have – and we also had tried other more intimate ways. We had tried having site tours where we would bring planners to [00:08:14] and they would serve them lunch and then they would take them on a tour and there were – you know, we did fan trips. We did all sorts of things, you know, we’ve been around 14 years and what we discovered by talking with not only the planners but also our partners was that we needed to create a new model, a new model for a way for partners and planners to meet, to be able to talk to each other, to be able to hang out and really get to know who they were and if you created a really casual, intimate environment where the planners could also educate themselves and do several different things at the same time, network with their peers that you would create an environment where it would benefit the business. It would make people more likely to want to talk to each other because a lot of times, you go to these events and it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. You know, I’m a member of Society of American Travel Writers and a lot of the travel writers hate going to marketplace which is the big tradeshow because it’s a huge tradeshow and you’re one little person and you’re expected to talk to all this people and it’s intimidating.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And not everybody has services that are going to be a value to you so the live events are not all-day affairs. I mean, now it’s another thing. People just – we don’t have enough time. You have so much work to do and if you’re planning meetings in your organization. Unless you’re an independent planner, chances are that’s not the only thing you’re doing. You’re doing 10 million other things and so, you show up usually about 9:30 or 10 o’clock and then – to register and to kind of hang out a little bit, have the continental breakfast and then the educational seminar starts and last an hour and then there’s a tradeshow which we keep to an hour and a half because we find that [00:09:59] and we also limit our – the people who are allowed to exhibit. We work really hard to keep the ratio of planners to partners at least at a two to one ratio so that the planners always number the people on the tradeshow floor.
Mike McAllen: Wow.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And if there are people – so yes, we sell out all the time and we give priority exhibitor places to people who are already in our program because a lot of what we offer is free to planners because we underwrite it by creating these marketing programs for our advertisers. And so, you know, our planners know that and they know that they’re able to get the quality and services and the things that we do because of the people who are there who want to meet them and so, they put a lot of priority on working with our partners and giving them business and letting us know when they give them business and so, yes, so it’s really cool. So, you know, depending on where we are, we do events in Dallas and Austin and Phoenix and Charlotte and Atlanta and Florida and we’re looking at expanding and possibly doing Washington DC or Chicago next year like in LA or San Francisco down the road. But we basically have these little live events and so you have an hour of education, a 1.5 hour of tradeshow and then you have a keynote luncheon where you eat, you get to talk, you get to hang out with people and then you get an extra educational session and then it’s over. So you’re in and out 10:00 to 2:00, pretty quick.
Mike McAllen: Wow, yes. How many people come to these things?
Kristi Casey Sanders: Well, the one we had in Atlanta, we had, let me see here, actually we had 86 planners.
Mike McAllen: Wow.
Kristi Casey Sanders: So that was really awesome. You know, we have like when we go to Dallas or Austin, it’s usually like 40 to 50 planners. Sometimes, in other markets, it may be a little more intimate like 22 planners but, you know, we see how many planners we’re expecting and then, we limit it and, you know, a lot of time goes into qualifying them and making sure that, you know, it’s not a bunch of people who are walking around just to get the plastic trinkets because, you know, another by-product of the old tradeshow model that we found really damaging was that in order to let everybody exhibit, who wanted to exhibit, you then had to invite so many people to make them feel like it was worth their time that they were going to be seeing them.
Mike McAllen: Right.
Kristi Casey Sanders: But you got a lot of people who weren’t necessarily the best quality planners. So, you know, we’ve really worked hard and another thing that helps you is the live events used to be free, the expense used to be free. But what happened then is that everybody says they’re going to come and nobody shows up so …
Mike McAllen: Right, I see.
Kristi Casey Sanders: … we charge a minimal fee like that’s the only thing we charge [00:12:49] and it’s – I think it’s $25 at most, $40 if it’s one of those events where you actually get a book or something else, you know, a value at the end. But we intentionally keep it low because we know that a lot of people have to pay out of pocket because their bosses aren’t going to be paying it for them but in order to get the e-credits for two educational seminars plus a lunch plus a tradeshow with, you know, venues and suppliers from all over the country. To pack all that in for four hours and it’s only 25 bucks or 40 bucks if you also get a book about relationship economics or something. We try and make it a really great value and something that, you know, we put a lot of passion, a lot of thought into everything we do and so, it’s something that I feel like has been very well received and that’s just exciting. It’s just exciting to do events and hear the partners get excited and hear them tell us that they’re booking business on the floor. You know, the planners tell us how much they love the events and it doesn’t feel cliquish and they, you know, they love the networking, they love seeing each other and it’s just …
Mike McAllen: That’s great.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes, I remember when I was in college, there was a phrase that we used to explain the hippies where there are kind rainbow people. You know, they are just the people who are always really nice and we had the live event and then the day afterwards, we had a town hall event which is something that we started to do regularly because our partners had mentioned that they were facing other challenges and so, we didn’t feel like it was appropriate to have an event where the planners and the partners were talking about their challenges because then, you kind of [00:14:22] the dialog so after the live event, because a lot of people are flying in from Colorado or from Florida or Texas. In Atlanta we decided that we piggyback it and so, they stayed an extra day because most of them are making sales calls. We have like an hour and a half long luncheon where they come in, it’s really fast and easy, they tell us what the challenges are, we put them together in little [00:14:43] tables and at the end, each tables presents their findings and their solution.
Mike McAllen: Wow, that’s a good idea.
Kristi Casey Sanders: So, yes, so if you go to PlanYourMeetings.com/TownHall or even just to PlanYourMeetings.com, you will see the Town Hall badge and you can read the findings and see the videos and read the transcripts of the presentations from the July event and I’m actually – today, I’m editing the video and the transcripts to put up our findings from our event last week and what was super cool of the – to go back to the kind rainbow, kind of vibe of it was, you know, we had somebody who sponsored u by opening up the doors of their venue so we can have the luncheon and somebody else who was catering and not only did they get up and they say, you know, “We love working with PYM.” And totally progressed without us asking which is awesome. But the first person who was presenting was presenting and she’s from Aruba and she was saying, you know, “We’re looking at niche markets and we’re looking at doing things that we’ve never thought about doing before and that’s one reason why we’re with PYM and it’s really paying off so far.” And that was nice to hear because I know, you know, we started off as a regional publication. It has only been fairly recently that we’ve started going to national industry events or making an effort to expand our audience base beyond where it has been and to become recognized nationally. So to hear that other people are interested in what we’re doing and what we’re doing is working that – the word on the street is that the program is really exciting.
My brother is the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing because we’re a small family-owned company and he received two phone calls of people wanting to be in the book after the book – I mean, after the close, people he didn’t solicit. You know, by Twittering and being on a social network, there are people who come in and they’re interested in the program and it’s just – it’s a really exciting time, you know. I know that out there a lot of people are very nervous about their jobs, they’re very nervous about the economic climate but there was somebody who called it not the great depression but the great disruption and I love that term.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Because I fee like, you know, in this time, yes, the old systems don’t work and there’s no point if what you’re doing isn’t working to keep trying to force that square back into a round hole. It’s – now is the time to really, you know, embrace innovation and really embrace change, however scary it may be because I feel like, you just, you have to first of all and second of all, this is the best time. It so pays off and so it’s just exciting because we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for a long time and we put a lot of thought into what we’re doing and just now, we’re starting to feel kind of the response of that and the people – you know, people approaching and – because we’re not a magazine. We’re a resource, you know, we’re not just a – you buy and ad and then you go away. You know, you join the program and you have a package and then we teach you how to work the package and if you’re a planner, you know, we’re not just something flat, you know, actually we started – there’s a separate website that you can get to from the PlanYourMeetings.com but it’s called PYMConnect.com and what it is, is a social network that we created because planners kept on saying to us, you know, I need a job board. I need a place where I can post, you know, either for help or that I need a place to work or – and I also – a lot of planners said that they want use the reviews, you know, place they could go where, say, that they got horrible service somewhere, where they could go and tell the other planners not to use them.
Mike McAllen: Right.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And so we created that because, you know, think about all the issues you would have if you tried to do on your home page. I mean …
Mike McAllen: Yes, yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: … especially if these are talking about your partners but – so we created a special place for them. So – and it’s kind of like a Facebook for planners. It’s awesome. You can upload your blogs, you can put your RSS feeds up to five different websites so if, you know, if you’re like – you were me and you’ve got a Twitter page plus you got Facebook profile plus you have a blog and your company site and your second company site and your YouTube channel, you can feed all those things on to your page so when people look at you, if they want to friend you, then can read all these information.
Mike McAllen: Wow, that’s great.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes, you can post pictures of your events. People have been posting and you know, [00:19:10] is a speaker and so he posted a whole slideshow of a past thing that he has spoken at. So, yes – I mean, it’s – and that’s really exciting too because like a lot of companies, we have a Facebook page. You can totally become a fan of Plan Your Meetings but the conversations there aren’t dynamic. You post something on the wall and it just kind of hangs out there. Here we’ve got forums so I led a session on planner challenges and solutions. That’s a live event last week and I was able to take all the notes and all the solutions that we talked about and put it up on the forum page and if there’s anything if forget, somebody can tell me or if somebody has a question about something, they can ask me.
Mike McAllen: Oh, that’s great.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And it’s just exciting, you know, so, yes.
Mike McAllen: Well, that’s what it’s all about nowadays. It seems like there is just so much talking back and forth and that’s the reason why we started the podcast basically the same reason that you’re doing all these things is that it’s a time to innovate and have new systems and pretty fantastic. You’re doing a lot of stuff.
Kristi Casey Sanders: We are doing …
Mike McAllen: You must be very busy.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Well, yes, I am very busy because this is – because Plan Your Meetings is oddly enough, as much as I do with Plan Your Meetings, it only takes up 50% of my time. The other 50% is taken up writing for a second publication we have which is an Arts publication that’s local to Atlanta. It’s a custom book. So – and then, on top of that, one of my brother’s strategies in order to give us a greater exposure with – I have a theatrical background and I have an education background and so, he wanted to identify somebody inside the organization who could be a speaker and an educator. And he volunteered me and set me on my first gig to speak to the Society of Government Meeting Planners in Houston and now, our Director of Marketing sends me all over the place and so, I lead panels for our live events. I speak a lot about how meeting planners can improve their work and improve the value of their work and I have a second presentation on how meeting planners can change the world which I’m debuting at HSMAI in Georgia, the Georgia chapter next Wednesday, February 11 but so it’s fun. I’ve spoken for HR professional, I’ve spoken for the International Association of Administrative Professionals and I have a pact with my Marketing Director that we’re both going to write our books this year. I’ll write my book on how to prove your worth and she’ll write her book on how to be a customer-service superhero. So …
Mike McAllen: That’s great. So where – so those are your upcoming dates coming up or are there more that people can …
Kristi Casey Sanders: There actually are more. So the February 11th is next Wednesday. I’m covering the MeetDifferent Convention. We’ll have a Twitter fountain on our website so you’ll be able to see everything that everybody is posting plus all those blogs. I’m so excited because I just got my video camera which fits in my purse and so I’ll be interviewing meeting planners and hosting some dynamic video logs about …
Mike McAllen: Great, great.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And then also, let me give you the live event show schedule. We have a show. Our next show is going to be February 17 in Scottsdale so this is a crazy month. I cover MeetDifferent. I come back. I do HSMAI, speak there and then I fly to Scottsdale the next week and I speak there and then I go to [00:22:29] and I’ll be doing some site tours and so, you know, if you follow me on Twitter which is – my handle is PYM live. You’ll know, like I usually just got kind of talk about the things that I love about the different sited and things that I think are really cool from a meeting planning perspective and then I come back, I go to straight to Pittsburgh for the Green Meeting Industry Council. They have their Green Hospitality Industry Convention in Pittsburgh and so, Lisa and I are going up there because we’re media sponsors this year and then, I come back and I go to New York and then I come back and then I get to Dallas the next day and …
Mike McAllen: Wow.
Kristi Casey Sanders: In Dallas, I’ll be leading an Industry Challenges and Solutions Panel and will be doing also a town hall event for our partners out in Dallas the next day and then I come back and then April 7, we go out to Austin for a PYM Live Austin and I believe I’m doing the Industry Challenges Panel out there too. So to [00:23:22] I’m only doing February 17 right now although, you know, if anybody is interested and wants me to come talk to their group, I’ve talked with MPI SEC and all sorts of different things so I’m totally open. Just send me an e-mail at [email protected] and Kristi spelled K-R-I-S-T-I.
Mike McAllen: That’s very cool.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And I’m not afraid of shameless self-promotion. I was an actress a little bit of time so …
Mike McAllen: No, it doesn’t sound like it. No, that’s great. That’s what it’s all about. So what do you – go ahead, I’m sorry.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Oh no, I was just going to say, I don’t know if that’s what it’s all about but it’s definitely something that the youngest generation is really good at.
Mike McAllen: Yes. Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Gen Y – because you’re [00:24:05] right?
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes, I mean, we’re kind of half and half like it kind of makes me feel a little ooky but we don’t mind it if we have to but our little brothers and sisters, there is no shame at all. I actually – I met a PR person at an industry event that was for – like a statewide industry event for North Carolina and it was such a gorgeous event and so wonderful and the people were so sweet and I was talking with one of the city reps and was telling her, “Yes, you know, we’ll have destination guides up there and please send me your press releases and let me know what’s going on because I like to stay on top of what the developments are and, you know, just let me know if – because I haven’t looked at it in the past months because it didn’t run in the books so definitely there’s something up there that I need to change, just let me know and she sent me back a whole – she had completely re-written my destination guide with PR speak and to set the whole thing to me and ask me when I was going to post it and I had to – I did gently respond to her, “That’s not how it works.”
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: But, yes, I mean, this other generation is – I mean, they have no shame.
Mike McAllen: Yes, totally.
Kristi Casey Sanders: It’s really amusing of – but I know baby boomers don’t find it very amusing so they can get cranky about it.
Mike McAllen: Yes, things are changing. It’s interesting. A lot of more transparency out there and get to the meat of the matter.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes.
Mike McAllen: So what are you looking forward to, going out to – well, you’re already in Atlanta, to go to the MeetDifferent Conference. What are you looking forward to there?
Kristi Casey Sanders: What I’m looking forward to there is I find that the most I get out of it because, I’ve covered the past two, the most I get out of it are really the opening general sessions, whoever is speaking. I’ve always – last year, they had Tim Sanders who was awesome and complete the inspiration for how meeting planners can change the word speech, I guess and the year before that, we were in New Orleans and there are a lot of really great ideas and inspirational things. What I love about MeetDifferent is that despite what their members are able to achieve on an individual level, when they get down to local chapters, I believe [00:26:12], his vision is huge and what he’s trying to do is so cool and I mean, from a geek perspective, when you go there, there’s so much neat techy stuff and different applications and things that you can use. I find it’s an incredibly valuable place to go just to get an idea on where the industry is going. Now, knowing that the majority of meeting planners are about 45 to 60, tend to skew, like baby boomer female but, you know, a lot of the application of what you’re going to learn is still going to be new and cool and current and fresh for probably about five to 10 years depending on what city you’re based in.
So I find that’s really cool too because, you know, my audience is not going to be working for a start-up in Silicon Valley or something or, you know, they may. Actually, we do have a lot of people who read the website and come from, you know, Istanbul and Spain and California and Canada and all sorts of things but, you know, at base, our core, our non-titles corporate planners, a lot of them aren’t going to be able to implement things immediately. So by going to something like this, I can process what’s the most cutting edge and then I can figure out how to introduce it to my audience and how to teach them ways in which they can innovate, in baby step ways or in huge ways to give them kind of a range of, “Hey this is a great idea,” or “This is a great trend.” And this is how – these are what the practical applications are and I find that that’s what’s most useful and then, what I don’t find as the most useful is the rendezvous because I think that’s primarily for the planners who are seeing people that they haven’t seen all year, you know, their best friends that are all across the country and so, it’s kind of just like a bunch of people dancing to music and getting drunk and so, I’m not – that’s not how I roll. So I tend to skip those parties. I love, you know, on the media, I have a completely different experience than anyone else does because there are briefings that we have and there are people that want to sit down and talk with us and so, I really enjoy the one on one interviews. I just, you know, I just love talking with people in the industry because it doesn’t matter if they’re planning meetings or if they’re, you know, a hosting venue or service provider, everybody is in this industry because, you know, they love creating experiences for people, you know.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: That’s part of the hospitality industry and so, I find that everybody is very kind rainbow. You know, there are some exceptions but for the most part, these are people who enjoy working with other people and are actually interested in other people and how they can make an incredible experience for them and so, I find that being in a room with people who at core – that’s their core essence is always incredibly cool, always incredibly fun. There’s always something I’m learning. So that’s it, you know, I’m kind of a wallflower, (alert 00:29:22), I take images, I ask people questions, I kind of get in and out of there, it’s pretty quick. I’m not – I don’t stand in the middle of the room and juggle plates or, you know, shoot paintballs or anything but – so …
Mike McAllen: I was looking forward to you juggling plates.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes, well, I never did that very well. I actually – for a brief spin, I did – I was with a community theatre in Amsterdam and we were kind of the rock stars and we had worked out a skill swap with Cirque du Soleil and so, I don’t know why they said yes. They said, “Yes, bring everybody and we’ll teach them Cirque du Soleil skills.” And you can just improv and so, of course everybody from our company went because we were so excited. We’re like, “Oh we get to learn Cirque du Soleil skills.” So I spent an afternoon learning that I was not a good tightrope walker. I didn’t have the stomach muscles to be a trapeze artist. I wasn’t tall enough to be in the Russian Wheel and I would kill myself if I had to play with the [00:30:18] because I was covered in bruises and the only thing I didn’t fall off too badly. I mean, I fell off everything that I tried but the thing I got hurt doing the least was probably the Chinese monkey poles because that’s where you put tar on your feet and you just kind of shimmy up a pole and hang out. That was my Cirque du Soleil talent.
Mike McAllen: What a great experience though. That sounds fun.
Kristi Casey Sanders: So awesome. And then we got tickets and there was one guy – oh, and then we also got to – we got to learn the opening number where you put on the masks and you crawl down the set. That was awesome but the – when we got tickets to go to the show, there had been one clown, one of the clowns who had basically been – he was my baby-sitter. He was assigned to help me fall off everything and so what we were – they were doing the show. We each got separated because we’re sitting wherever they had seats and twice, he came up and he was like, “Hi, how you doing?” And so that was super cool, just to be in the middle of Cirque du Soleil and have the clown come up and whisper in your ear and wave and be like you’re really good on the Chinese monkey poles.
Mike McAllen: Oh, that’s funny. That’s so funny.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes.
Mike McAllen: Yes, I had that, had that – well, I’ve seen a ton of them in Vegas and being down there on some of the events and stuff and that they – one of them, the – oh at the Bellagio, they – I got pulled up on stage and they embarrassed me in front of the thousands of people that were watching. It was – so everywhere I went walking around in the Bellagio, people were asking me to dance and stuff because they made dance to these clowns and it was horrible. It was horribly fun but it was horrible.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Yes, in showbiz parlance, you were the shmo.
Mike McAllen: I was, exactly. They found the tallest, dorkiest dude they could find and they pulled me out on stage. It was terrible.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you at MeetDifferent. We’ll have to …
Mike McAllen: Yes, yes. I am really looking forward to get out there. You’ll have to show me around because this will be my first experience as a media person.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Okay.
Mike McAllen: So you’ll have to show me the ropes and …
Kristi Casey Sanders: Totally.
Mike McAllen: And I really appreciate you talking to me and we’ll have to revisit this again in a few months.
Kristi Casey Sanders: I’d love to, yes. I mean, because, right now, what I’m in the middle of is I’m – I’m in the middle of, you know, we’ve got – we had the partner event, we had the planner challenges in industry and I’m doing that and then a couple of different towns, I think it would be really interesting to see, you know, I’ve got kind of a feel of what the challenges and solutions were over the summer, what they are right now and then, through the spring, I think things are going to shift tremendously.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Kristi Casey Sanders: And I think it will be interesting to see kind of not only how it shifted but what planners what suppliers in different cities were facing too.
Mike McAllen: Yes, I know. it sounds great. I’d love to talk to you again. Well, I’ll see you …
Kristi Casey Sanders: Okay.
Mike McAllen: … next week or this week …
Kristi Casey Sanders: I’ll see you later.
Mike McAllen: Yes. All right, Kristi, thank you so much and I will talk to you soon.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Okay, excellent. Thank you.
Mike McAllen: Okay, bye-bye.
Kristi Casey Sanders: Bye.
Female: We appreciate and thank you for listening to the Meetings Podcast. You can find Mike McAllen at GrassShackRoad.com, Jon Trask at AlliantEvents.com and Tom Hillmer at CreativeGroupInc.com. The Meetings Podcast theme music comes from the Delgado Brothers which can be found at DelgadoBrothers.com. A special thanks to RipTideGraphics.com for the audio editing of this podcast.