On a recent trip, I went to the Chicago Magic Lounge. I admit, this wasn’t my choice – after a great dinner at a small Italian restaurant, the last thing I wanted to do was enter a false laundromat and figure out how to get one of the faux dryers to swing open and let me in.
(Yes, you read that right.)
And then we entered, and a several hours-long grin appeared on my face. The space was thoughtfully designed and the cocktails delicious – but the real delight came from the professionals who worked there. When we sat down, a gentleman pressed two bunnies in my hand, had me shake them and “presto!” a family of baby bunnies poured out. From then on, we couldn’t stop laughing and clapping as cards were lost and found, balls migrated under and over things, and our fellow bar mates joined us in conversation around and beyond magic, because of a shared experience.
At MCI USA, we refer to the more than 300 colleagues in the US and more than 2200 globally as “talents.” This felt a little stilted at first, but I have come to appreciate and celebrate that term – because I am surrounded by people who surprise and delight our clients (and quite often, me) at every turn. Here are a few examples:
- At a recent client event, the fire marshal vetoed the room assigned for the board meeting. Without missing a beat, one of our meeting planners took over the spa, giving the board members a fabulous view and a fun alternative to a standard boardroom to spend their day discussing strategy and operations.
- The CEO of RESOLVE, a cause-based client, appeared on NBC’s Today Show within 24 hours – coordinating her own travel, makeup, wardrobe and talking points so that the voice of the community she serves and represents could be heard during a tragic equipment failure that impacted the family building plans of hundreds of people.
- Right before a client meeting, one of our talents – on their second day on the job – realized that our usual water pitchers-platters-serving ware were in poor condition. She raced out to HomeGoods and came back with a whole new set – procured at half-price.
- The executive director of new client the International Window Cleaning Association fearlessly harnessed herself in and climbed scaffolding, so that she could experience their rigorous and important safety training – winning a lot of fans from the association in the process.
Each of these people is an extraordinary professional – and deserves to be called a talent.
My experience at the Magic Lounge reminded me that you can have the perfect setting, ideal location and great concept – but without the right people to pull it off, it can and will fall flat. From the bartender that made me an Abracadabra cocktail (note: one is plenty) to the three magicians who performed table-side magic to the manager who answered our many questions about the venue, we left eager to return.
Our goal is to make our client experiences – conferences, trade shows, webinars, membership renewal or welcomes – contain that same kind of magic. Thoughtful design sets the stage, but the experience is fuelled by talented professionals – and the magic is supplied by our client participants and members. All without passing through a laundromat on your way in.
At least until your next meeting in Chicago…
Erin Fuller is the president of association solutions at MCI USA. Her younger son has a magic kit, and his killer trick is to throw a light through one ear and out the other.
Client lead Jennifer Hedrick jumps (or climbs?) right in to the scaffolding training at the International Window Cleaners Association’s event.