Conventions and Herding Cats

By Tony Moorby September 12, 2022
Cats roam the IARA Roundtable in Nashville, TN, August 2022 Cats roam the IARA Roundtable in Nashville, TN, August 2022

As a manager of a large company at one time, I’ve led many meetings and attended more conventions than most people have had hot dinners! I always remarked that the success of a meeting is often gauged by how easily things are organized and how smoothly run they appear. The fact is that the ease for attendees is in inverse proportion to the amount of talented work that goes into the mix, sometimes months or even years before the event.

For conventions, much is achieved by volunteers, committee members or specialists but someone still has to have the vision and organizational capacity to orchestrate the efforts. The National Auto Auction Association convention is an ideal example of the successful herding of hundreds of cats by an extremely proficient staff at headquarters.

Some associations employ the services of an outside consultant or company – the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance who just held their Summer Roundtable here in Nashville, is such an organization.

Kim Glasscock has been responsible for their meeting planning, through her own company, for years and a great job she’s done, too. This last effort for the IARA set all kinds of new standards for attendance, content and attractions, my spies tell me. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend as I was out of town for the duration.I’ve known Kim for donkeys’ years; we were colleagues at Anglo American Auto Auctions, later ADT Automotive where she grew through the administrative ranks, helping to give a backbone to a growing organization. Reliability and creativity were personal resources that came to the fore and she took on the role of Meetings Manager, not only at the disposal of the home office but as a resource for any member of the company.

Our company was renowned for the Client Advisory Board meetings, taking place twice a year; one at the Long Beach Grand Prix, virtually taking over the whole Hilton Hotel and the fall meeting was always held at a resort, typically in the East or Midwest. Seamless organization ensured that events took place without attendees or presenters looking over their shoulders. You know that illusion about a duck, gracefully gliding around the pond without a care in the world, while her webbed feet were scrambling like crazy under the water? That’s the one that fits to a tee.

Her experience led to the development of terrific negotiating skills, paired with the protection of a junkyard dog. I can tell a (long) story about being kicked out of the Southampton Princess hotel in Bermuda during an NAAA meeting – my then two-year-old daughter removed her bathing suit following a dip in the pool. It was an action considered lewd and following a verbal altercation in the lobby our whole family was asked to leave. The Marriott put us up in their Presidential Suite! Two years later, after the Princess group was acquired by Canadian Pacific, Kim refused to conduct any meetings at their hotels. Offers came, better offers were made, bend-over-backward, never again offers were made. We finally held our annual General Managers’ Meeting in their flagship hotel in Acapulco, Mexico at less than half price for everything! That was when it was safe to do so.

Tony Long’s dedication to the IARA was secured by assuring that the best services were always made available and to make certain that the Association’s look and feel is first class to members and their clients. That comes with managers who can sense what’s right and what won’t fit.

Experience comes with time and is a most valuable asset.

Last modified on Monday, 12 September 2022 21:38