Hosting a camel

For the third year in a row I was on the planning committee of the IDA Culture Night and I am getting used to the diverse tasks of planning this fair style event with its many exhibitors and external participants.  This year we even had a visit by a live camel to celebrate kicking off of the IDA Sustainability Caravan.

This year we hosted about 40 exhibits, shows and activities ranging form underwater farming to space exploration, as well as virtual reality and robots, and of course the camel! Each exhibit is organized by IDA’s many local and special interest engineering networks and each exhibit is staffed by a handfull of volunteers numbering close to 150 in total.

With several thousand guests visiting the IDA Culture Night on a single evening, we need a lot of hosts and hostesses to help our guests make the most of their visit. On the day (or in this case the night) of the event, the hosts have a lot on their minds and a lot of responsibilities on their hands. While we on the committee had spent a lot of time planning the evening’s events and made plans for “when and where and how”, there are still a lot of decisions to be made on the fly. Agility is important (not just in the planning phase) as exhibitors and guests ask questions you never could imagine or anticipate.

One of the primary tasks for the planning committee is to prep the volunteer hosts and make sure they are ready to engage with the guests. After all, the hosts are out there among the guests and the first ones to make eye contact. Disney is said to have a 3-meter rule, meaning that everyone and everything within 3 meters is your responsibility. It may be a customer needing help with directions, a lost child missing her parents or just a piece of paper dropped on the floor.  This rule is not just at Disney, but should be implemented everywhere. As I’ve discussed as part of my ExEl series, the hosts and event staff is an integral part of the Experience Space. While it is important to remain at the assigned posts, it is equally important to make sure both guests and exhibitors are serviced. After all that is what hosting is all about.

Of course, being a good host also means taking care of the animals in your care. That was why we had made sure that 15 kilos of carrots where purchased for the camel, Abu, and his ‘driving buddy’, Pepe the donkey, and that the visitors treated them both well.

Yup, being a host is a diverse task. And a very important one!

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