Ask an Expert: Keep Your Cool This Holiday Season: 3 Tips to Avoid Frustration with Your Co-Workers During Busy Season

“WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING!?!!??” – You, screaming in your mind and sometimes out loud.

We’ve all been there – the client’s frustrated, the frantic calls are coming in and you’ve discovered a major mistake that you didn’t make but is now on your plate to clean up.

With stress running high, a huge amount of holiday events in a short time period, and exhaustion creeping in, it’s easy to focus on the client and flash a smile in front of them. Behind the scenes though, we often let our guard down and treat our teams with less patience, trust and care, turning into stressed out versions of ourselves we don’t enjoy being.

These moments of frustration and tension can undermine years of trust, positive relationships and future team dynamics, so how do we stop the damage before we begin? Follow these 3 quick and easy tips to reduce stress and increase team camaraderie this holiday season:

  1. Ask Before You React: The fact that you’re reading this article means that you’re probably a high performer. You care about your job, team, company and success, which often means that you may often enjoy being a resource for others, knowing details and helping others.
    But here’s a #truthbomb for you: You don’t know everything, even if you think you do. Situations can get us into hot water, especially when we’re moving fast. When stressful, urgent situations arise this season, take a pause and ask questions first.
    Chances are the people you are working with aren’t total idiots (seriously!) and they had a reason for what they did, but you’ll never know if you go straight into berating, scramble-to-fix mode. Asking questions gives folks the opportunity to share their thought process with you, own their decision and provide a learning opportunity for you to share with them. Some of my favorite questions in these scenarios are:
  • Why did you do this?
  • How did you envision this playing out?
  • Did you consider the ______ team when making this plan?

Bonus tip: Stay quiet after you ask them – not everyone is a quick-on-their-feet thinker and may need a few beats to gather their thoughts.

  1. Share Your Worst: At your weekly or daily stand up meeting this holiday season, try a roundtable sharing session, with everyone answering the question: “When I get really stressed out, I tend to behave/react like _______.”
    By sharing your awareness of you at your most stressed, it spurs a dialogue of how we can support one another. By knowing that Person A shuts down, Person B starts freaking out and running around, and Person C may become short with their words, your team will be better positioned to have your back and look out for you when you’re starting to go nuclear. In addition to team assistance and awareness, this knowledge also serves to put yourself on notice and be able to police your emotions better – talking yourself down or taking yourself out of a situation before tensions really flare up and the wrong words are said.
  1. Be Quick to Say “I’m Sorry”: Gone are the days when apologizing is a loss of power – saying “I’m Sorry” can be one of the quickest healing potions in the universe. I believe that people in our industry want to serve others, do good work, make people smile.
    No matter how stressful work can get, there’s no ignoring the humanness of us all – even you, Director of Perfection! It isn’t easy to act yourself when the stress has been piling up, taking us out of our best selves. And it’s those two beautiful facts that make an “I’m sorry” so powerful, because when we say it, we mean it to our core.
    If you’ve flown off a handle, reacted in a way you’re not proud of, or gone a little too hard on someone, don’t waste a second more – go apologize and see how your relationship changes for the better. I’m sorry are words of love.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to have some fun, too. We work in the best industry in the world, bringing joy on the daily to our clients – and we’re all in it together.

Happy Holidays and see you in January at ESPA Conference 2019!

Rachel Sheerin is a national keynote speaker and hospitality trainer focused on helping teams communicate better, sell more and be happy. Rachel is a keynote speaker at EPSA 2019 with her program, “F This S” being presented on Sunday, January 13th. You can learn more about her, her high-energy programs and her cute pit bull by visiting or reaching out to her at

Event Trends: Sustainability at Conclave

The Events Industry Council is a great partner for ESPA and a great organization to aid in the setup, maintenance and evolution of best practices in our industry.  Green Meetings is an important topic that EIC and ESPA have helped raise awareness in. I attended the CMP Conclave in Birmingham, AL last month and experienced firsthand how EIC puts their own advice to work in meetings.

A variety of sustainable practices were evident throughout the Conclave and below are just a few of those samples:

  • Reusable/Sustainable Centerpieces
  • Repurposed/Reusable Signage (general branded signage with interchangeable arrows)
  • Beverage Service – Reduced Coffee Stations based on peak times, and table tea service rather than individual pre-set beverages
  • Elimination of bottled water – provide water stations/fountains and encourage personal reusable bottles
  • Elimination of straws – encourage reusable straws. EIC actually gave out reusable straws during their presence at IMEX.
  • Repurpose or donate materials – Mariela McIlwraith, EIC’s Director of Sustainability showcased her fun banner dress, made of recycled banners, pictured here.

Overall, EIC did a great job showcasing small and big ways that meetings impact the environment and provided ideas on what we can do to minimize our footprint and increase sustainability.  For more sustainability best practices and resources, check out EIC’s Resource library here and this helpful infographic.

Submitted by Paola Bowman, CMP, CMM

Industry News: A One Trillion Dollar Industry

The Events Industry Council (EIC) – of which ESPA is a Member – announced this week preliminary results of an unprecedented worldwide study on the economic significance of face-to-face business events.  The Global Economic Significance of Business Events conducted by Oxford Economics is the first-ever comprehensive study on the impact of business events.

The trillion-dollar (USD) outlay reflects the direct spending attributed to planning, producing, attending and/or hosting business events which include meetings, conferences, conventions, exhibitions and incentive travel.  Read the full story.

EIC Update

ESPA is a member of the Events Industry Council (EIC).  The Events Industry Council’s 33-member organizations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry. The EIC vision is to be the global champion for event professionals and event industry excellence.  Here are a few quick updates on current EIC activities:

  • The Events Industry Council research committee and Oxford Economics have kicked off a study to measure the global impact of meetings and events. This is an extension of the U.S. study. The report will provide analysis for the top 50 countries as well as for seven world regions.


  • In recent months, there have been challenges to voluntary professional credentialing in U.S. state legislatures. In most cases, legislation has been introduced to reduce burdens on employment by cutting back on occupational licensing. Non-governmental professional certification programs have been affected by those initiatives, whether intentionally or not.  ASAE and The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) have formed the Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) with the assistance of the Pillsbury Law Firm.  The Events Industry Council will be joining the coalition, not only to protect their largest asset, the CMP, but for the benefit of its members’ certifications as well. Visit the PCC website.


  • The EIC is moving towards an expanded, more global Events Industry Council glossary. The Glossary is used to help CMP candidates, as course material for college and university programs and as a useful resource for educating industry professionals. Their online glossary is one of the most visited pages on our website. It will be relaunched in the fall.

Event Trends: DMOs Move Towards Digital

DMOs have historically provided maps, dining guides and other destination resources to visitors. However, as our industry moves toward event sustainability, DMOs have become more aware when it comes to printing thousands of items. In a recent discussion on ESPA Connect!, members shared their perspectives on this trend. Most agree the move to digital is a new trend amongst our peers, and in response our services departments collaborate with marketing to provide more digital links to resources. Doing so is more sustainable and yet easily accessible to on-the-go attendees and planners. Join the discussion on ESPA Connect! to stay informed and let us know what works for your destination!

-Submitted by Liana Acevedo, Convention & Sports Services Manager, Richmond Region Tourism

Event Trends: Welcome Programs

Welcome programs are a great way to thank groups for allowing your destination, attraction or hotel to host their event. Many programs are designed to offer special information and discounts to groups and can even include a letter or appearance from local dignitaries. Even though your attendees are the ones who benefit from the information and discounts, your partners can also walk away winners. In exchange for their participation, offer them details they can use to market and/or prepare for your group’s arrival such as convention calendars, demographics, break and lunch times and information on evening activities. For more information on how to make your destination, attraction or hotel more welcoming, check out how Atlanta and Nashville are rolling out the red carpet.

Event Trends: Site Tours

The key to conducting the perfect site tour is information. Meetings Today and Joan Eisenstodt recently hosted a webinar called Site Selection and Inspection: Hidden in Plain Site. The webinar outlined what planners should look for during site tours and what information venue & destination staff should have readily available. Eisenstodt authors the magazine’s Friday With Joan monthly newsletter. During the webinar, she encouraged using agendas during site visits to record the participants and the discussion topics. Eisenstodt recommends asking questions such as, “is your venue ADA compliant or ADA accessible.” For more details on this webinar and others, see the on-demand webinars here.

Submitted by Lisa Bethea, Visit Frisco