In the upcoming year many of the banking, insurance, and financial institutions will be gearing up for yet another year of Meetings & Conferencing.  Now don’t get me wrong I attend the ones that have a lasting affect on world trade and commerce, like the World Bank’s or the Super Bowl; but as for the rest they are well, less than interesting.  Matter of fact they are a down right a waste of time and resources.

 Here’s the scenario, a business interest hires a new VP, he or she has worked very hard to get there and is replacing someone who, apparently wasn’t working so hard, and this new person is spewing all over the place phrases like: ”Very Excited!” or “A Fresh Approach.”  They in essence are unstoppable and they will do at this job what no one else has done.  Despite the possible fact that their predecessors’ were probably just as “jazzed” as they are now at the new promotion or position they had also received.

And this is also about the time where they make the first of many gargantuan mistakes.  They go out and buy a house in a very expensive part of town with a 50 year mortgage with interest only payments for the first five years then the heartbreaking balloon payments thereafter.  But hey who cares?  I’ll be running the place by the time the first balloon payment kicks in, so let’s share my joy and offer what the seller’s asking for.  Next stop trophy wife.

It is these individuals; with all their bravado begin to settle into the transition phase of their new position.  They organize their office, direct their personal assistants on their quirks and idiosyncrasies as if these are the very fountain of where their genius springs eternal.  They look around and they see a “team” of people who need to work together in harmony.  How do you get harmony?  Why you set up an offsite conference of course.

 In the Financial and Insurance industries alone some $600 million dollars will be spent on these meetings and the largest of these meetings will bring in to the hosting hotels or resorts upwards of $500,000 in direct revenues.  So as you would guess there is a whole niche marketing and advertising industry devoted to these very events.  Whole publications teeming with pictures of exquisite hotels with lavish dining rooms, pools and meeting rooms all for one purpose, to get decision makers to choice them above all others for their Meeting.  Everybody is smiling and happy in the photo ads and nobody is pictured in a 4 hour long powerpoint presentation on, um well whatever on a 4 hour powerpoint presentation, you fill in the topic.

And here’s the deal.  Nobody wants them.  Nobody, except the overhappy hyperexcited new VP who can’t wait to get in and start to show their stuff.  This is where the tech world can kick in and provide relief to the beleaguered “team” all this money is being spent on.

Today it is possible to do Video conferencing, tele-conferences, and data sharing.  Really your “Motivational speaker” probably has a DVD.  In all serious I went to a conference where I was forced to sit through a lecture on stress management and relationship strategies.  Now if you are having trouble in these areas yes by all means attend; but if you are stressed because your not home and your relationships are suffering because your here at this conference instead of at home working on them, then maybe this can help too.

Technology today is able to assist in allowing for people to meet and exchange ideas without having to stop what they are doing and moving a great distance away to do it.  The connectivity of technology is often overlooked.  People, next time you get a new boss who stresses “teambuilding” politely suggest that you use the available tech resources to achieve these goals, and update your resume.  (and a private shout out to a Mischievous cat.)