While at #Optsum…

A quick take on the first day of the #optsum conference: I enjoyed a bag lunch (literally, served in a branded thermal lunchbag) today and sat with some of the real estste/apartment industry peeps just for grins. It’s always good to step outside of your comfort zone a bit.

I was feeling particularly adventurous since the drive from Tulsa to Dallas was uneventful and featured an inspiring sunrise over foggy valleys in south central Oklahoma. Happy to be alive, happy to be at #Optsum, I sat down at a random table and introduced myself (those of you who’ve met me in person know this is not exactly out of the ordinary behavior for me!).

The conversation revolved around their part of the show… and how completely dissatisfied they were. No sponsor for breakfast, so it had been cancelled… and apparently no one told the attendees. The room was too cold. There was no bottled water available. The show floor was open too long. Some of the speakers were bad. The booth spaces were way too expensive. Attendance at the show was down. The turkey sandwiches stunk… and, the big one… NO DESSERT at lunch!

*whew* It was a brutal buzz kill. The bad thing is that social media and feedback channels are (literally) all around these unhappy folks, and yet no one thought about how to fix or address any of the problems they were experiencing through feedback in that way. While I can’t say I enjoyed my time with them at lunch… I have children, I get my daily fill of whining, thank you… I was graphically reminded that the digital world I live in is not the same for everyone. There is always more to learn about reaching people where they are, right now, and addressing their issues with compassion and forthrightness.

And finally… I thought the turkey rocked and I prefer the temperature at 72 or below. So there.

UPDATE: I spoke with the Optsum leadership after this post appeared (they were paying attention) and was very impressed with their desire to hear feedback and improve what could be improved. Kudos to them.

If you see me at optsum, say hi!

drapes at the Sheraton make a nice backdrop 🙂


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2 Responses to “While at #Optsum…”

  1. Tami Siewruk September 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Mandy, we’re sorry your lunch came with an earful, and thanks for listening gracefully to what we weren’t there on the spot to hear then sharing it! The thing is, The Multifamily Brainstorming Sessions is a fundamentally ever-evolving event. Imagine That! The best things that it IS are results of change and occasional experimentation. We keep what works and we ditch what doesn’t. The exhibitors and attendees who have made this event a part of their professional (and even largely their personal) lives for its 20 year history ( has grown leaps and bounds every single year) know us to be very receptive listeners. What we’ve heard today (not online, because we can’t do what we do with our faces in a laptop—but in old-fashioned PERSON) has been overwhelmingly constructive. What we want our trade show floor participants to know is that their challenges matter (to all five of us running the event) even if their personal challenges today were stinky turkey sandwiches and cold ballrooms. In all honesty, breakfast this year was never canceled because it was never on the program As for the cold hotel rooms, just know that we did what we were begging our hotel support staff and engineering, first asking sweetly, then firmly, then in that voice thing that killed people in Dune.

    And we, too, had the turkey, and thought it rocked.

  2. Mandy Vavrinak September 16, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Tami, how cool that you saw this and responded, especially since I am not “target audience” for you! I respect your forthright response.

    I’m a trade show veteran, of multiple types/industries, and it is very, very true that they are evolving things and typically are huge events planned by a small (and highly dedicated, slightly ADD) staff. I suspect some of the angst at the table I shared is general jadedness with the market in general… and its always easier to share concerns with a table of peers than it is to actually go find someone and have a reasonable, adult conversation about challenges, opportunities, etc.

    And I know the Dune voice… awesome. For my part, I am enjoying the show. 🙂

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