Food & Beverage

Cheeseburgers and Other Open Secrets

When a meeting is working really well, it makes attendees feel like they're part of an exclusive club -- like they all share a secret that no one else in the industry knows.

A little insider knowledge goes a long way, making a person feel special, privileged, accomplished. Or, sometimes, just cool, which is how I felt when I had dinner at Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien hotel after the author appearance I attended in New York City last week. (Hat tip to my colleague Hunter Slaton for the recommendation.) Burger Joint is a deliberately low-rent, uh, burger joint that’s hidden in plain sight behind a red curtain in a corner of the hotel’s elegant lobby — a cramped dive with scarred wooden tables, a cash-only policy, and a handwritten menu that’s limited to burgers, fries, shakes, and Sam Adams. You pretty much have to be looking for it to find it, which of course didn’t stop the line of customers — split pretty evenly between Manhattan scenesters and tourists — from snaking out the door last Thursday night at 9.

So with Burger Joint, Le Parker Meridien has done two things: (1) stuck to the basics, offering killer burgers and fries, and nothing else); and (2) involved customers in its conspiracy of silence, making them accomplices and, ultimately, proselytizers. It’s (2) that particularly interests me when it comes to meetings. How do you make attendees feel like your entire event exists behind a velvet rope? When they leave, do they feel like the rest of their industry needs to catch up with them — and it’s their duty to share what they’ve learned? 

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.