Monday, April 25, 2011

Snapshots From Spring Break

Last week it was spring break for Arlington Public Schools, meaning our two daughters were home all week. Meaning we needed to come up with things for them to do. And my wife, ever the organizer, rose to the challenge, creating an action-packed itinerary: Luray Caverns! The National Aquarium, Baltimore! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus! Gettysburg! Hershey Park!

A stagehand on alert during Ringling Bros.' Spherical Miracle.
I joined the family for the aquarium, the circus, and, as part of a three-day Easter weekend, Gettysburg and Hershey Park. It was all a lot of fun, and, as you might imagine, not completely irrelevant to meetings -- especially when it comes to the different ways that a live event or destination is experienced. At the circus, for example, it was interesting to watch the many stagehands needed to produce the three-ring spectacle -- sticking to the sidelines and (of course) wearing black, but otherwise a visible component of each performance, and for the show's more death-defying acts, quite a prominent one. During the super-cool Spherical Miracle (pictured above, hazily), stagehands with fire extinguishers were stationed around the attraction's 16-foot ball-cage as seven motorcycles zoomed around inside it.

In Hershey, Pa., I was conscious of the attention that's gone into providing an overall experience throughout the properties that make up Hershey Entertainment & Resorts -- including Hershey Lodge, where we stayed, and Hersheypark and Hershey Gardens, which we visited. The attention to detail and the customer service on display at every level, in every corner, combined for an impression of seamless, effortless welcome -- a testament, I think, to the potential impact of a well-conceived, well-coordinated meeting, even one that's not based around a nonstop infusion of process cacao seeds.

And, by the way, Hershey is certainly no stranger to our industry -- from the 100,000 square feet of event space at the Hershey Lodge, to a plaque installed in a lovely corner of Hershey Gardens nearly 25 years ago, during the 1987 convention of the Penn-Jersey District of the American Rose Society. Chocolate World, it seems, is also Meetings World.

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