I have to believe that few individuals have not echoed these famous words after arriving at the convention hall, only to remember their badge was still on the desk in their room. In addition, many feel there is no logical reason for badges and that some cruel individual devised them with the objective of creating a device that is difficult to wear, looks stupid and everyone would use at virtually every meeting on the face of the Earth.
Contrary to those opinions, there are very logical reasons for the use of badges, as you might imagine. The first and foremost reason, unfortunately, is to verify that everyone attending the conference has registered and paid for the privilege to attend, the opportunity to network, do business with members and partake of the activities, meals and events. This would, of course, not be necessary were it not for a few individuals in the industry who choose to come to the meeting and do their business without registering like everyone else. If you see customers, manufacturers or reps roaming around without a badge, attending a meeting or sitting next to you at a meal, you might inquire why they feel they are unique to the other 1,200 participants who registered.
Secondly, the badges give those you meet the opportunity to remember your name and your company, both of which appear in crisp, bold letters. There are some who, as their eyesight matures, ask that we make the name and the city much larger. However, we have found that to adequately do so would require a badge the size of letterhead.
There are other purposes for badges relating to membership identification, meeting logistics, cost control and just plain fairness. Badges are required for people to attend conference functions, which include meetings, receptions and meals. Badge-holders are color-coded, with the membership category printed thereon. Wholesaler badge-holders are black; manufacturers and service vendors, green; manufacturer representatives, blue; and marketing groups, red. In addition, wholesaler member badges have their HARDI region printed at the top with a different color code for each region. While most badges have a white background indicating a full registration, Tuesday-only registrants have a yellow background.
The use of badges for the Conference Booth program and the Opening Reception probably causes the most confusion to attendees, and staff must follow specific rules in fairness to those who pay for the event. If you are unaware, for many years manufacturer and service vendor members share the cost of the Opening Reception on Sunday evening as an hospitable gesture to the wholesaler members. For that reason, “Tuesday-only” manufacturers and service vendors can attend the Opening Reception without paying an additional fee. Other “Tuesday-only” participants or persons not registered for the conference who attempt to attend this reception without a badge are doing so unfairly to their peers and their customers. There are exceptions to every rule, so be sure to refer to your conference program, read the signage in the registration area or check at the registration desk.
A similar situation occurs with the Conference Booth Program. Manufacturers and service vendors reserve and pay for conference booths on a first-come, first-served basis, and as such we do not permit those without a booth into the booth program. We do this to prevent those who failed to reserve a booth from doing business during the booth program in competition with those that have. For this reason, those individuals who have access to the booth program have a special designation on their badges.
In summary, I want to emphasize that the “insurgents” who try to beat the system are truly the exception. I guess we should consider it a compliment that our meetings are that valuable. However, as Colonel Klink would say: “Vee hav our vays of taking care of zem.”
See you in Palm Desert.