What's better than winning an all expenses paid trip to Monte Carlo? Getting to coordinate surprising all the winners with their prize! Well...sort of. For lovers of iPhone emails, Excel spreadsheets, and all things logistical, it's a close second.
With over thirty winners scattered throughout sixteen locations across the United States, our pharmaceutical company client wanted to surprise their top sales people with a special trip. In years past all the winners had been announced at once but this year was going to be something special. With a phony announcement scheduled a few weeks out, the winners would REALLY be surprised a few days earlier in a "Publisher's Clearinghouse" style reveal, complete with giant checks, champagne, balloons, a spiffy presenter and a videographer. All on the same day. Sixteen simultaneous surprises across three time zones. We had two weeks to find the talent, communicate with the on-site contacts for the shipment of the giant checks, coordinate pickup of the champagne and company color balloons, and organize and track shipment of the camcorders. Piece of...cake?
After many long nights and countless emails back and forth between myself and the client I finally had to ask myself: is this going to be up to snuff? Have I done the unthinkable and over promised and under delivered? The idea behind the project was simple enough, but in our time-frame it was a logistical night terror.
I sat down and wrote what I thought was a carefully crafted, highly diplomatic (if not a bit verbose) email to our client, about how I want things to be perfect, but given the obstacles and limited time I have some concerns, which I then went on to enumerate as honestly, and realistically as I could (in the least scary way possible). Do you know what she wrote back? She sent me a succinct and beautiful email that carried the message: Elise, this project is tough. Don't worry- we'll make it work.
And she was right--we would make it work. Sometimes when you are conducting your business from computers and cellphones it's easy to forget that your clients and your vendors are people--they're realistic, they're inherently good, they're supportive, and we all just want to make it work. We have bumps, sometimes things are stressful, but we always figure it out.
Our amazing client was right--we ended the week with 34 ecstatic winners, and amazing (and a little bit hilarious) footage of every one of the surprises! It was a mess of laughing and crying and hugging. There were levels of surprises, managers thinking they were going to surprise their staff, only to be surprised by THEIR managers! The winners all got the surprise they deserved and it couldn't have been done without every single person's hard work.