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Thursday Tales: Event Planner Edition BirthMay 2021

Hello everyone! Today, I figured I’d share some fun stories from my days as an event coordinator/event customer service.

So before the pandemic I worked in event management, and prior to that I worked in the same company’s customer service call center, so I have so many wild stories to share from my time there! The customer service ones are the typical crazy “Karen” like calls, while the event management ones from the more recent years are more fun I think.

Oh! If you’re new here (newer than May 2020) you might be wondering, what’s BirthMay? Well, every year I blog every day in May because it is my birth month. I just figured it was something fun to do, and it has proven to be really enjoyable for me. This will be the fifth BirthMay on my blog! No matter how many BirthMays you’ve been through with me, thank you for being here this BirthMay and thank you for your support!

The CIA Agent That Called Customer Service

This was an really weird call that I received in the call center! I think I was a few months into my time at the call center, so I was pretty new still. I can’t remember what the type of event the call came in from, I think it was some sort of technology or media/press type of event though. It was definitely a professional focused event though so it was the type that required the attendee have appropriate credentials to attend.

Anyway, with those type of events it could be pretty annoying for the attendees because they would get through most of the registration process, realize they need credentials, and exit the page without finishing the registration so they could do it later. However, when they did eventually come back to it the system would flag their email as a duplicate (so that the data wouldn’t get messed up for the client) and wouldn’t let them continue. Unfortunately, it would still save the information and still mess up the data so they could neither go back to start a new registration nor sign in to the old one because now the duplicate one confused the system. So annoying!

That’s what happened to this woman so she called into customer service. I quickly realized what the issue was as it was very common and asked for her email to look her up. At that point she started to act weird and jumpy on the phone, so I was confused but she gave me part of her email and then suddenly said “actually, no don’t look it up, bye” and hung up. I was still able to look it up with the partial email though and had actually already searched so when she hung up I got the results back and could see she’d attempted to register about five times before calling in. And that’s when I realized her email was for the CIA. She also had her regular email that she’d attempted to use too in there, as it was similar, and it’d flagged that one too due to her name/address/etc. So I just cleared out all the info so that she could try again later anyway, except for the original, so hopefully she was still able to attend. But it was so wild to me that she was so jumpy about giving me her email when it was already there multiple times!

Woman Calls Customer Service for a Refund

So this is a typical “Karen” call, but this was way before the name Karen was used for these types of people! Anyway, this call occurred on what I’m pretty sure was my first day on my own without a trainer helping me at the call center. It was literally my first or second call I think, I wasn’t even at my own desk yet! This caller had attended a beauty industry show for professionals, so think hair salon owners/hair dressers/make up artists/nail technicians/etc.

Apparently she didn’t bother to read the rules for the show before buying tickets, just called the customer service call center to buy the tickets. When she did so, she claimed she had asked the agent she’d spoken to if she was allowed to buy product at the show and claimed that the person had said she could. However, this show was clear on their website that they did NOT allow sales to occur on their show floor. Basically the booths would display their product and could gather attendee information to connect with later about making sales but they could not actually sell at the event. The caller was upset because she said she specifically went to buy new products at the show to try out at her business but was constantly denied. She even told me she tried to bribe an exhibitor but they refused because they explained that if they were caught their entire company would be kicked out of the show so she was also upset at that.

I had to ask my boss about this, because I didn’t know what to really do about it. The show was clearly a no refund show so what I ended up telling her was that the website was clear about the rules and the client didn’t allow for refunds (especially if they actually attended the event already). But if she wanted she could email in her request so that it was in writing and we could send it to event management (the client) for their review. I don’t know if she ever did that or not but she basically hung up on me after that. After having been on the management side and dealing directly with clients, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have gotten a refund anyway and that she was likely just trying to get a refund after going to the event to see what it was like. That is actually pretty common, which is why the shows end up doing a “no refund under any circumstance” policy. I hope that if she was honest about not knowing the rules that she would read them more carefully in the future though.

Man Offended I Didn’t Know Some Random Baseball Player he Coached Once

This was actually not a call from the call center! After about a year in the customer service call center I was promoted to group sales, which was basically still customer service but just with VIP groups for certain events. But we also were tasked with escalated calls for those specific events. This was my very first escalated call and it was crazy!

So the event was a youth baseball tournament and the caller was a man who coached some random team in the midwest. I know nothing about baseball, in any age group, so I have no idea if it’s a good team or not but I will say they never won the tournament in the years that followed this call either so… *shrug*.

Anyway, the caller wanted to ask for an exception to the event housing rule at the tournament. All the teams, coaches and players, were required to book through us at an official event hotel. Some of the teams wanted to try to get AirB&B’s or even do wild things like camping but this specific tournament did not allow that. In order to get away with it, the coaches would book with the hotel directly and try to pretend that they weren’t with the tournament, which is what this coach did. So when he booked at a hotel on his own and the hotel realized what was happening they cancelled his rooms and sent him to our call center. He basically harassed the call center agent that got him and made her cry so he was escalated to me. The issue was that he was upset his rooms were cancelled and “given away” to someone else. In reality, a team who followed the rules booked the rooms properly and so they were no longer available when he was told to go through us.

Sure enough, I got him and he was going crazy! He kept “warning” me about how he sued a garbage company and won years prior to this call taking place (like, what?) and then constantly saying “you know my team, right?” Finally he paused long enough for me to admit I don’t actually know much about baseball or sports in general but I can help him find a hotel. He then went off on another rant about how he is a “famous” youth baseball coach and tried to convince me that I did know some famous baseball player that he supposedly coached once. (I later found out that the player was actually famous but I literally to this day have no idea who the player is or if this coach ever actually coached the player.)

Anyway, after maybe about an hour of me just sitting there listening to the guy rant about how his rooms were “given away” to another team he finally let me book him at another hotel. Later I found out that he continued to complain and even somehow got ahold of the company president to cry about his rooms being “given away”. The company president didn’t have any idea of what was happening so he said he’d get to the bottom of it, at which all my managers got involved and they tried to handle the damage. The hotel in question claimed they were out of rooms (I’m not sure if it was true or they just didn’t want to deal with the guy), the other teams who got the rooms legitimately refused to move, and I think the managers/company president ended up booking him somewhere else and giving him financial compensation for the “trouble”. I remember many of my peers upset that he was being rewarded for being outrageous and, sure enough, there were major issues with this guy every year that followed as he tried to get more money from the company.

My Favorite Caller

I figured I’d share a caller who I actually liked next! Maybe a year after the crazy baseball coach guy I got another escalated call. This was another baseball coach but I’ll call him Wine Guy, and you’ll find out why soon!

Wine Guy called, freaking out because he had multiple teams attending and couldn’t find rooms for any of them. Plus, he wanted as many as possible in the same hotel too. He was clearly nice but he was just freaking out and so confused on what to do. I calmed him down and asked him to give me an hour or two to see if I could find something for him. A little while later I did manage to get about half his teams in one hotel, and assured him that we were trying to get more rooms at the hotel for the rest. He was still concerned so I offered another hotel for the other half and at least the teams were in two hotels rather than the six or more he previously had. He seemed to be okay with that for now but asked if I could please continue to get more rooms at Hotel A for the other half of the teams.

A few days later, I called him back to let him know that all but the youngest team could be at Hotel A. The best I could do for the youngest team was to book them at a hotel super close to the venue they were playing at. He was thrilled at that! Now, the crazy thing is, that this was actually a common thing too, and so it wasn’t anything extra that I did for him but he did appreciate it so much that he insisted that I send him my office address so he could send me something. I expected maybe a team t-shirt or something, as sometimes my peers would get team merch as a thank you. He ended up sending me two bottles of really good wine!

I ended up getting a promotion soon after that so I wasn’t able to work with him directly anymore the following year, but I did manage to get him onto the VIP team list as he met all our already set qualifications for it (large number of teams aka he was paying a lot of fees to attend the tournament).

My Favorite Event – VidCon!

VidCon 2019

This was an event I was assigned to when I was promoted to event management. Actually, I asked to be assigned to it because I would watch the VidCon vlogs every year! The first year I was assigned to the event I didn’t travel onsite but the second year I did because I specifically worked on the rooms for the featured creators and the client was overwhelmed the first year without someone there to handle those onsite requests. I was over the moon!

I arrived a day before the event really started, so I remember walking into the check-in room for featured creators and my three main contacts from VidCon looking up at me utterly confused. We hadn’t had video calls or anything so they didn’t know what I looked like and I think they were panicking wondering who I was. I quickly introduced myself, hoping they were actually my contacts as I hadn’t ever seen them either! Immediately they cheered for me and got up to give me a huge group hug! I thought they were so insanely sweet and over the next few days they really embraced me as part of their team. I had a staff badge but they tried to give me an executive badge to give me more “authority” around the hotel. They also had me dealing with the featured creators directly even though technically I was supposed to be quiet “behind the scenes” support.

After the housing needs subsided (everyone was pretty much checked in and settled into their hotel rooms after the first two days), I ended up helping them check in the few remaining featured creators at the badge desk. I remember them being so grateful I was helping because one of their employees had a medical emergency on the first day, so they were short staffed. I assured them I was happy to do it as they didn’t have many housing needs at that point and they were paying for me to help their event anyway, so I didn’t mind helping out wherever they needed me to.

It was such a cool event! I ended up meeting a ton of really cool YouTubers (and probably TikTokers but I didn’t even have the app at that point) and helping them out. Some of the bigger names that I remember helping were the Try Guys, Gabbie Hanna, Bretman Rock, Grace Helbig, Joey Graceffa, and so many more.

Basically I checked in 3 of the 4 Try Guys – Eugene who was incredibly sweet, Keith who was really happy to be there and super kind, and Ned who was a little disoriented because he’d been shoved to the front of the line by the other guys and hadn’t been expecting it.

Gabbie Hanna was someone who the hotel staff and event management team was nervous about. Apparently they all considered her to be someone who needed to be treated with white gloves but I didn’t have a negative experience with her at all. She came in when I was first learning how to check someone in, mostly just providing assistance with handing the actual desk staff stuff like the wristbands or lanyards. I remember I commented on her colorful jacket, saying I loved it and it really suited her. She laughed her big Gabbie Hanna laugh and said “thanks! I just bought it at a flea market and it still smells like it!” at which I had to laugh too! She then proceeded to hang out in the check in room a while longer working on a video and at one point one of the event managers saw her sitting there and asked me to quickly help get Gabbie’s items ready to check her in. I quickly explained that I’d already checked her in, just as the event manager started to panic because she didn’t see Gabbie’s packet of stuff. She immediately asked me how it went and I explained that it went really well, and told her about the jacket story. She looked relieved and said “okay well it sounds like you already made it on her good side so if she needs ANYTHING or ANYTHING happens with her, I give you full permission to do whatever you need to do to handle the situation”. There didn’t end up being any situation at all, and Gabbie eventually headed out but I thought it was really funny how I was suddenly trusted to be the Gabbie handler!

Bretman Rock came in with a full entourage of people! I remember he was super sweet and so excited to be there, as was his entire group! They were all high energy, full of smiles, and genuinely brought smiles to our faces at the check in desk. Grace Helbig was cool to see because I was actually a huge fan of her channel for years and even had been to two book signing events of hers at that point. She was freaking out because she couldn’t find her confirmation email to which I assured her not to worry but that didn’t help because she panicked more about the security. I just calmed her down by explaining that if she had an ID that would work in place of the email and that did work.

And my Joey Graceffa encounter was probably the craziest! He somehow got a hold of my direct cell number (not my personal phone, but my work cell phone), which pretty much no one had called as it was mostly meant for the client to reach me if they needed me. Joey asked if I could get his boyfriend’s name added to his hotel room, as he was waiting in the lobby and couldn’t get in due to security. I assured him it wouldn’t be an issue and as I basically ran to the lobby to find the boyfriend I called the front desk and had them add his name to the room and start checking him in. At this point the hotel front desk was well acquainted with me so they quickly got to work. Joey was one of the biggest creators of that year due to his Escape the Night series so the client had stressed that he needed to be taken care of ASAP as I had run out of the room. I found Joey’s boyfriend in the lobby, apologized for the mishap, and led him to the front desk where his key was waiting for him. I then called Joey back to let him know his boyfriend was already on his way up to the room. Both guys were extremely nice and grateful for my help, as well as fully understanding of the security procedures so there was really no issue except the panic the event staff went through!

Oh, that reminds me of another story with JacksFilms. Jack came up to the check in desk looking for me as he’d heard that I could help with his concern. I had been in the little office area behind the desk so one of the desk staff came back to get me. Jack explained that his wife would be arriving after the desk closed, and he was going to be at an event at the convention center so he was worried that his wife wouldn’t be allowed in. At this point security was on high alert because pretty much all the most important people were at the hotel now. Jack wasn’t going to be able to meet up with his wife to give her badge to her, and he didn’t want her stranded in front of the hotel until he could get back after his obligation. I assured him that it would be okay and we headed to the front desk to make sure her name was added onto the room. Once we did that I told him to leave her badge in the room so she could go up to the room after checking in and grab it to meet him at the convention center. I also explained that she would be let into the lobby to check in, since it would be obvious she was trying to do so with her luggage in hand and gave him my work cell phone number so that his wife would call me if needed. I also sent his wife an email and CC’d Jack on it so that if there was an issue she could also show the email with my name and signature saying she was allowed at the hotel and needed to check in, her badge would be waiting for her in her room. It was probably all overkill as I later did run into Jack and asked how it all went with his wife. But Jack was so thankful and insisted that she was only able to get in without issue because I helped them out. I’m sure they would have been okay without me but it was a peace of mind for all of us knowing she had as much stuff as possible to help out if needed.

Another fun story! I was sitting at the check in desk chatting with the desk staff when John Green came up to the desk asking if he could get the Featured Creator badge. We already had it waiting for him and he explained that his assistant only grabbed his Executive badge, which was great but the exhibitors wouldn’t give him any swag because they were only giving it to Featured Creators in hopes that their products would get featured in their social media. We lightly teased him, saying he had the perfect opportunity to have a diva moment and yell “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM????” on the show floor but John Green just laughed at the idea and shook his head greatly amused at our teasing. He later stopped by again to give us stuff from the Featured Creator swag bags given at check-in saying that he and his brother had tried out all the stuff for a video and they didn’t know what to do with them now so he thought we might want them.

I also met his brother, Hank Green! Hank actually hung out in the little office area behind the desk a lot more than I thought. I think because it was hidden by a divider he felt he could relax for a minute back there without being swarmed by other creators in the hotel. He was constantly eating the snacks we had back there, and at some point a cake was brought in because it was the 10th VidCon event. He asked why we hadn’t cut into the cake yet and the main event manager there said he should cut it! So everyone grabbed their phones and started to film Hank cutting it. But no one grabbed a plate! They all started jokingly panicking at the same time because everyone was holding either a phone or a slice of cake but me. I finally found a video of it that someone posted and you can hear them all immediately going “PAMELA GRAB A PLATE! HURRY!!!!!” and me saying “OMG OKAY!” It was such a funny little moment and I love that memory of the event.

So those are just some of the many, many tales I have from my days in event planning. I have to admit, it was a pretty cool experience overall and I’m grateful for all I learned at that job. Not all my experiences were positive but the learning was and it all makes for a good story, right?

Thanks for reading!


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