Story of Early Registration Gifts
The idea came to me over 30 years ago. Many of you may not be old enough to remember, but in those days, there was no electronic documentation, no internet, and no carry-on luggages.
I used to travel quite a bit to attend technical conferences. At every conference, we used to get conference proceedings, hard copies of course, that weighed a ton, and a whole lot of brochures. Imagine carrying all of those to an airplane, and from the airplane to home. Everyone complained about the weight of stuff to carry, but there was nothing to do about it. Imagine carrying those in a luggage with no wheels. Remember, the carry-on luggage was not in the picture yet. I used to wish for a magic formula.
Fast forward a few years, I had a day job, as a quantum physicist. I had nothing to do with conference organization. Then, the ISO 9000 Standards came about. For more than one reason, I decided to start a conference. I set up the first ISO 9000 World Conference in 1992. Just around that time, the wheeled-carry-on luggages started to appear in the market. I got one for myself. I loved it. It was the best invention since sliced-bread!
The first conference was to be held at the Grosvenor Resort in Orlando. Remember, how I used to wish for a magic formula to carry heavy conference stuff home. So, I thought I should do what I said I would do with the new conference. I decided to give carry-on luggages to early registrants. I ordered several hundred from Service Merchandise, a popular chain at the time.
My sister and I arrived at the hotel the week before the event. I told the manager we are expecting a few luggages. He said “Ok, we don’t have extra storage space, but we can take them to your room. The next day, the manager found me. He was in panic. He said there is a trailer filled with boxes shipped to me. I walked out, when I saw the size of the truck, I almost passed out. I had not calculated the volume. Every luggage was individually packed, as if the volume of open box luggages would not be overwhelming enough. Luckily, the manager said he will find some storage space. Just as I had solved one problem, a second truck arrived that looked similar to the first one. Sure enough, Service Merchandise had made a mistake and doubled the order. After many phone calls, Service Merchandise agreed to take back the second shipment. After this experience, I learned my lesson and never offered large volume gifts. However, the attendees were ecstatic. Many of them were surprised, saying “this is real luggage.” They expected some gimmick, or a toddler size luggage. But, it was the real thing. They were happy.
We continued the tradition of giving early registration gifts for the past 30 years to make your daily life easier, and more enjoyable. The goal has always been giving something useful to the attendees, other than knowledge, that they can take back home, and hopefully come back the next year.