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A Not-So-Simple Change of Plan

ALBERT EINSTEIN SAID: "Creativity is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration." This mixture of ingenuity and hard work did the trick for Ellen Michaels Presents during a recent event.

Everything was going according to plan for the San Jose, Calif.-based event company, which was managing the annual sales and supplier conference for a major health care services company. The client had contacted company owner and president Ellen Michaels a year in advance, so there was plenty of time to plan the event-a three-day conference for about 500 people.

But suddenly, Michaels' firm faced a triple whammy. Four months before the event, the client firm acquired another company, decided to move the event date up by two months and added an additional 150 attendees.

"Our team had about two months' notice to rebook the event in the original hotel to avoid cancellation penalties, evaluate meeting space and agenda needs, and develop a plan for the multiple resets," says Laurie Sharp, CMP, the company's director of accounts and marketing.

To accommodate the additional attendees, Ellen Michaels Presents and Los Angeles-based Academy Tent & Canvas coordinated the installation of a 12,000-square-foot tent in the employee parking lot of the hotel. But even the addition of the tent did not provide enough space. Over the three-day conference, the Ellen Michaels team reset the ballroom and pavilion 12 times to accommodate general session, awards presentation and evening events. "I've never turned rooms that much in my life," says Michaels, adding "a lot of our crew were up for several days straight."

Despite the hectic pace, the event came off without a hitch. Notes Michaels, "Nothing funny happened--it was a flawless meeting from an attendee's standpoint." -T.M.

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