The Art of the Tweak

Every meeting has its challenges, but a well-placed tweak or two can work wonders.

La Quinta Resort and Club

More than 1,200 people participated in the 128th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) last year, which was held Nov. 13–16 at the La Quinta Resort and Club, near Palm Springs, California. The event brings federal-utility staff members and commissioners together with consumer advocates, lobbyists, and nonprofit representatives.

Every meeting has its challenges, and NARUC Director of Meetings Michelle A. Malloy, CMP, CAE, shared two, along with the tweaks that helped her overcome them:

Tweak One: A Quick Getaway

The La Quinta Resort and Club, a desert retreat, is at a distance from major airports. To keep attendees on site until the end of the meeting, Malloy moved the last day’s start time up from 9 to 8:30 a.m., so the program could wrap by 11 a.m. She also corralled attendees’ luggage into a baggage-holding area outside of the closing general session, making it convenient for attendees to grab their bags to catch their flights home. Result? “We had a very strong showing our last day,” Malloy said.

Tweak Two: Combatting No-Shows

In the past, NARUC has suffered persistent no-shows for the volunteer leadership’s Installation Luncheon. For this meeting, Malloy charged attendees a nominal fee of $45, which didn’t cover the costs, but asked attendees to commit resources. Having more skin in the game worked: “Last year, out of 890 [who said they’d come], we guaranteed 600, and 470 showed up,” Malloy said. “This year, 530 said they were coming, I had 450 guarantees, and 400 showed up. It was less wasted food, less money, and the big thing was not having the stress of worrying about a lot of guarantees not showing up.”


Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.