It’s the same every year – business booms for us in the springtime. At the end of April crates of event material pile up in our offices; many of the year’s events are decided within these few weeks. Taking stock so far: 30 laminated A3 signs (signs for a large VIP event in Berlin), 300 name tags, 20 lunch menus for the Reichstag (smaller incentive weekend trip in Berlin), 100 menu cards for a salesforce conference in lovely Lisbon, matching table cards, 15 lovingly hand-bound road books for an adventure weekend in Bilbao, matching envelopes with motorway tolls, welcome letters for the hotel rooms, 100 poker instructions for a kick-off meeting in Münster.
During these hectic days of spring our office is like a pre-Christmas elves’ workshop where everything is spiral-bound, laminated, printed, folded, enveloped and packed. “How boring,” you may think. Far from it! For days, weeks and months we pore over concepts and presentations. We roll our sleeves up and work out calculations, billing and hotel contracts. (Anyone who has tried to make a Commission statement to a Spanish hotel knows what I mean …). We confer with the accountant about VAT rates in Stockholm or rack our brains for inspiration over 3D projections, floor plans and missing emission surcharge refunds on airplane tickets.
Anyone who has worked for a while in project management of major events, knows how engrossed you become in the simple, manual activity where you can, for once, switch the brain off. Folding menus for hours with a stoic indifference is like taking a short break, with the satisfaction of visible and tangible results.
So the laminator becomes the Zen garden of the event agency, the meditative task of spiralling and folding allowing the overheated project leader’s brain to rest. Off to fold the next set of table cards, right there in the here and now.