Engagement + Marketing

That Awkward Stage

As we lurch forward into the digitally enhanced future in the meetings industry, I keep thinking about a long-ago afternoon when I was working at one of my first jobs, for a magazine published by a state tourism department.

Desktop computers were still rare, and a few of us had gathered in front of a computer to take a  look at something then brand-new: a website created by another state tourism department.

The site itself didn’t make a big impression on me, but this did: The state’s governor had recorded a  personal invitation to visit, which we could listen to only after many long minutes spent downloading an audio file via dial-up access. As I recall, it took longer to download the short message than it did to listen to it. The whole experience was so underwhelming, that we just laughed and went back to work.
Nobody would say now that it is a bad idea to promote destinations on the Web. But initially the  technology—  as well as knowledge about how to use it well —had not yet caught up with the vision for its potential.
I sometimes think of that afternoon now, when I encounter an awkward or frustrating digital meeting platform. Not many are as clunky as that first destination website I saw, but it helps to remember that the individual experience that I am having isn’t a reliable reflection of the potential of the medium. 
And if you want to do something new, you sometimes have to just keep going through the awkward stages.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.