Going Viral: Be The Real Thing

Steve's Dim Sum Birthday Party 9

I took my friends to one of my favorite weekend haunts, Kirin Court, a Chinese dim sum experience in far North Dallas.

On weekends they offer a special buffet-type affair from 10 am – 10 pm. The Sunday wait time is usually at least an hour. The lines are long even though the restaurant seats about 250 people.

Going To Dim Sum Is Going To Yum Cha

I say buffet-type because if you’ve ever had dim sum, you know that it is an unusual food tasting event, especially for most Westerners.

Dim sum is a Cantonese Chinese meal that involves small portions of food. Servers push carts filled with small steamer baskets or small plates. You choose which foods you want to sample off the carts. A server stamps your card, bingo style, to mark your orders.

The Cantonese call going to dim sum going to “drink tea” or yum cha. It’s linked to historical traditions of afternoon tea tastings. Rural farmers gathered in tea houses for an afternoon of tea after working in the fields. Tea house owners began to serve snacks with tea and the tradition was born.

Today in southern China, many restaurants start serving dim sum at 5 am. It’s customary for the elderly to gather for dim sum after morning exercises. For many Chinese families, dim sum is a weekend ritual.

The Real Thing

My friends were the fifth group that I’ve taken to Kirin Court. The majority of the wait staff speaks fluent Cantonese. So do a majority of the patrons.

Kirin Court is the real deal. So much so that I check in on Foursquare and Yelp offering tips with glee. I’ve taken pictures of the food and given unsolicited testimonials on my Facebook page and in Yelp.

This is how restaurants make it in a suffering economy. They don’t advertise. They rely on word of mouth buzz. If the food is good and the experience enjoyable, the word spreads.

This is how the news spreads about your conferences and events as well. For all of the work we do with magazine ads, emails, Facebook pages, Twitter announcements, LinkedIn promotions, websites, blogs and direct mail pieces, the buzz travels by one person telling another.

Imagine several hundred people being fed at Kirin Court and enjoying it so much they tell several hundred more. “Going viral” is nothing new.

People are hungry for the real thing. They will listen, come and see for themselves. And if it’s the real deal, they’ll tell others. If the food is lousy, no amount of expertise in trying to build social buzz will accomplish anything.

True For All Endeavors

This is true for all endeavors.

Newspapers blame declining readership on technology. They ought to examine their product.

Bookstores scream that we have a non-reading public today. Yet people are reading more than ever. Bookstores ought to examine their processes, their displays, customer service and ease of shopping.

Dying conferences can’t blame people for leaving their experience. They ought to examine their offerings. Only loyal diehards will remain at a table serving lousy food.

As conference organizers,

  • When we try to hoard food (content) instead of sharing the fat of the land with our profession…
  • When we try to offer meager education offerings as learning experiences…
  • When we try to create an elitist event and still offer day-old leftovers…

Market economics take over.

Other leaders will rise up and offer the real deal. And the crowds will follow.

How can meeting and event professionals recognize if they are offering the real deal or leftovers? What are some ways conference organizers can equip loyal customers to help spread the word?

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  1. Jeff:

    I love your analogy and noticed the ongoing trend in conferences to shorten the duration of sessions in order to allow more variety and more time for audience participation–Q & A. This sounds like the small portions of Dim Sum to me. I’m guessing I won’t be the first reader today to get up and go get a snack.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Yeah, my mouth was watering as I wrote this post. Thankfully, I’m going to dim sum Saturday and taking another group of friends to experience it.

      I agree there is a trend to create bite size experiences in events. The challenge is tying all those chunks into a threaded and memorable experience. I often spend 90-120 minutes at dim sum eating slowly and conversing with friends. I believe that deep dives still have a place as long as they break up the learning into smaller chunks and allow time for participants to connect the new content to previous knowledge and experiences.

      Thanks for reading as commenting! Always appreciate it!

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