it's not all wine & sunshine

Over the past year I've been working as an independent contractor for an event group.  Basically what that means is when they need additional staff/support onsite (typically large corporate-type events) they hire me to help out - registration, housing, food&beverage, etc.  I'm not an employee of that company, they just pay me for my services.  Make sense?  Don't worry if it doesn't, most people have a hard time understanding that concept. Quite honestly, I didn't know this type of job existed before I started doing it.  (And, no, I'm not the one doing the planning...I'm on the execution end of it.)

As you've seen from photos I've posted on Facebook/Twitter and here on the blog, there are definitely perks to this job.  I get to visit gorgeous locations, stay in pretty hotels, and drink yummy wine.  Trust me, though, when I say...it's not all wine & sunshine.  Don't believe me?  Let's take a look...

Travel is involved - yay!! - unless you find yourself on a short window of time to get from flight #1 to flight #2 and flight #1 was delayed.  Even less fun when you find yourself running through the terminal only to learn you have to go through Security again - WTF?!  Also not fun?  Schlepping your crap around like a semi-homeless person and having people you don't know continuously pawing through your stuff.  And don't even get me started on airport food - that's definitely not fun (assuming you even have time to grab something)!  Don't forget...typically as soon as I hit the ground I'm off & running.  Doesn't matter if I started the day in Cleveland at 5 am, once I hit the ground in CA/FL (wherever) I immediately head to the hotel and start working. And I'm working on local time so it could be 9 pm (or later) Cleveland time once I'm through.

I'm a hotel junkie and won't lie that staying at pretty hotels is a definite perk. However, most times I'm in my room long enough to sleep & get ready & I'm enjoying the beauty of the property through a window.  See this...

...this is the closest I got to the pool on my most recent trip.  And...I didn't even stay at one of the host properties because every hotel in the city was sold out during the time we were there and guests of the event we were working needed rooms.  Yep, 5 of us shared a condo -- 2 bedrooms + 2 bathrooms + 5 women -- you do the math.  May not have been my first choice but the guests needed a room and we made it happen.  And see this pretty picture...

I took it running from one hotel to the other trying to juggle rooms and make sure every guest had a room to sleep in. Since the city was sold out while we were there...there was one day I walked into the day being short 13 rooms for our guests and potentially being another 13 short if those that were no-shows from the night before showed up.  That's right...potentially 26 rooms short in a city where even the dumpiest of places were sold out.  Fun time, people, fun times.

Typically the beginning of a program includes getting everything set up.  The badges you see 1000's of convention goers wearing?  Yep, we make those.  We print them, alphabetize them, stuff them, sort them, organize in badge racks, and then give them out...along with stacks of registration materials that, in most cases, we've printed, stuffed, and stacked.  And don't even get me started on "goodie bags!"  The next time you get a goodie bag and toss it aside please, oh please, at least say a silent "thank you" to the person who stuck the sticker on the outside of it and stuffed the rest of the stuff inside.  Trust me, they don't come pre-made.

 Other "benefits" that come with the job...always having band-aids handy because you know you'll need them for the newest blister that decides to form (regardless of how worn in and comfy your shoes are); baristas knowing your name because the only thing that can get you going super early in the morning for days on end is coffee; the ability to hold your bladder because there are days when there simply isn't time (not usually an issue but it's been known to happen); front desk supervisors/managers ducking when they see you approaching because they know you have something they need to fix and/or assist you with; learning how to come up with back up plans because it DOES rain in paradise...

Don't get me wrong, there are definite perks of the job.  I work with an insanely talented group of people that have become my family away from home.  They work hard, inspire greatness, and embody the same passion for great guest service that I do.  They enjoy good food & wine and, yes, we do sometimes get to partake in a yummy meal at the end of the day.  But you know what, after working 12+ hours it's kinda nice to sit down with a glass (or two) of wine and let the day's stresses melt away...because usually it's just several (short) hours away from getting up to do it all again. 

Crazy as it may seem now that I've laid out a portion of what I do when I'm away on a "trip" I absolutely LOVE what I do.  It can be insane and busy and boring and stressful and crazy and tiring but I wouldn't trade it for a minute.  They say that if you love what you do it really isn't work and I guess that's what has happened to me.  I truly love what I do and am so blessed to get to do it.

Jenny @ Practically Perfect... (April 12, 2012 at 5:36 PM)  

I'm so glad that you shared this! I knew that you did something with events, but didn't have the full picture till now. It sounds like an insane amount of work, but that it's worth it :-)

Sadie (April 14, 2012 at 6:59 AM)  

Rooms, front desk, reg cards, NAME BADGES....deja vu. The goodie bags are a new twist, and your description made me laugh. I am sure you are simply smashing!

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