BEST OF THE BLOG (Read the complete Risk at RIMS 2008 blog at riskatrims2008.blogspot.com. )
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Exhibit Hall: On the Tchotchke Patrol
Really, now, who comes up with what carriers, brokers and vendors decide to purchase to draw attention to the booths in the RIMS exhibit hall? And how much do they spend--or look like they spend? (Not much, in many cases.)
The booth item selections are, at best, uneven. The need to police this part of the trade show has never been greater. It's time these products come under some scrutiny. Thus, we at Risk & Insurance would like to introduce you, the reader, to the first self-appointed tchotchke patrolman.
Be warned. This cop's packin'--pens, in both breast pockets.
Don't care if your items are made of wood, or of plastic, aluminum, cardboard, leather, or nylon.
Don't care if your paraphernalia contains a propylene glycol, a methylparaben or a fragrance.
Don't care if your goodies are made cocoa, monosodium glutamate, or organic milk.
Don't care if they've been "regifted" because they failed to move at CICA, or at LOMA or at IASA, or at PRIMA, or because nobody, absolutely nobody showed any interested in them--zip, zilch, nada.
The only criteria is how likely risk managers are to pick up your trinket--and we're not talking about trade show hangers-on, trinket trolls, and card-carrying members of Freebie Nation.
We only care whether serious, professional risk mangers like Wayne Salen of Labor Finders Intl., Scott H. Beckman of Advocate Health Care and Robert A Meyerhoff of Boeing Co. might give these items half a thought.
Nor should anyone think, not for a second, that the trinkets business isn't cut-throat. It thus deserves our attention.
"It's always a competition," said Heather L. Suttle, the Texas-based marketing manager for EFI Global. "It's an unstated competition."
Indeed it is, hence the need for the tchotchke patrolman, who's unafraid to make a decision about which trinket deserves to go free, and which ones deserve to sink to the bottom of San Diego Bay.
We figured that now that the booths have all been taken down to clear the way for the convention center's next trade group client, we won't run the risk of getting beaned in the head with a stress reliever.
So here goes--We're going to arrange this listing in a "hits and misses" format. But because we're all in San Diego, and we've probably ordered fish at least once this week, we're listing items based on whether they can swim or sink.
Trinkets that pass muster with the tchotchke patrol deserve to "swim." Items that don't we've left to "sink."
Before we start, the obligatory disclaimer is in order. This is a most unscientific survey.
Some companies are mentioned in the SWIM and SINK category because the trade booth was hawking more than one product.
Here we go, now, hold your breath.
Sunscreens: We're in San Diego, the earth is warming and a good number of attendees are on the golf course. Risk manages need sunscreen, even in April.
Luggage tags: Risk managers spend more time in airplanes and airports than they do with their significant others. Their luggage is at risk of being misplaced or lost.
Green bags: Bags are always good, just what you need to carry trinkets to bring home to tot. Kudos to one vendor for choosing reusable bags by Earthwise. Green is good--and we're not talking about money, for a change.
Ice cream: Always a hit, particularly in Southern California's hot climate. In fact, this tschotchke patrolman loves ice cream so much that if you're desperate for your trinket to float to the top, he's open to bribes--in the form of more ice cream, of course.
Cell phone/PDA accessories. Risk managers spend more time on their cell phones and Blackberries than with their spouses or children. A flashlight attachment would have come in handy for risk managers fumbling about for a phone number in a darkened alcove at Stingaree. Anti-slip pads to prevent cell phones from slipping off dashboards or tables are a good idea, though the tschotchke patrolman isn't sure jut how long these would last. Still, we're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Stress Relievers: Risk managers don't stress in a soft market because prices are flattening out or dropping. The only ones likely to panic are the brokers and the carriers. Stress relievers in the shape of Emperor penguins just don't fly in San Diego. Couldn't they've at least chosen a grey whale, or a shark? And the pink pigs with wings and shades--wassup wit' dat?
Technology: The kind of minimal "giveaway" technology we're talking about here is pretty basic and rudimentary. Often it doesn't work as advertised, but it's even more frustrating and self-serving when the technology is locked and key drive files with promotional material can't be erased.
Coasters: Risk managers shouldn't be drinking on the job. When they do, they're usually drinking wine at white-linen restaurants.
Wallwalkers and other gooey gimmicks: A definite no-no. Cheesy, sticky, weird, infantile, and worst of all, in bad taste. The next time the trinket patrolman catches a vendors in such flagrant violation of the rules of decency, the vendor's name will be made public!
Candy: The stuff's for kids. Stay out of their cookie jars
Hot tchotchkes this year seemed to be the hand sanitizers.
But tchotchkes on the wane appeared to be golf equipment--ironic given San Diego is home to Torrey Pines. A couple of vendors saw fit to give away tees, and BDO decided chocolate golf balls were good enough to make the cut.
A veteran of the tchotchke circuit, speaking from a hidden location blocks away from the convention center and only under condition of anonymity, said that he couldn't remember the last time he'd laid a finger on a tchotchke.
The items that are worth keeping, according to this source, those that risk managers really deserve, are part of the "private stock." Brokers and carriers stash away the goods in the drawers or behind the trade booth curtains.
The tchotchke world spins on its own axis. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the trinkets that make it to the booths. Why is it, for example, that there are so many more tchotchkes at a society for risk managers than there are at trade shows for disability managers?
At the Disability Management Employers Coalition, for example, conventioneers rarely touch tchotchkes, according to Joseph A. Daee, national sales manager for Allsup, a firm that helps plans recover disability and workers' compensation overpayment dollars.
At RIMS, tchotchkes help attract the curious like nectar attracts birds. "You need good stuff to attract people to your booth," said Daee.
Well that's just about it from the exhibit floor of this year's RIMS conference. This patrolman's pen has run out of ink--but there's time to leave you all with one more thing. "Tchotchke" is Yiddish, and it means "a little piece of crap."
Posted by Cyril Tuohy
Sessions: INS209: By reading this, you agree to the indemnification provisions contained herein
The voices of the three presenters at the INS209 session fade out ... and their last point is pulling me off into my own little la-la land. (At RIMS, I really haven't had too much time to go there, so I've really been missing my la-la land.) The topic of discussion in the session (and sorry for not giving you the full title for this session, it's really long) was how contractual indemnification agreements can be designed so that a subcontractor would have to indemnify a third party for the mistakes of the contractor.
Say contractor A is doing construction and takes the wrecking ball, by accident, to the building next door to the worksite ... and then has his architect subcontractor be responsible for it (and the subcontractor's insurance company). Roughly speaking, that's what the speakers were talking about as the session faded onto the back burner here, and instead I am wondering how I can use these indemnification agreements on my own life ...
And I can't. Because I never make a mistake, so there's no need to have somebody on the hook for them.
But let's say I did make mistakes ... I could start making everyone I meet sign a contract that says they are on the hook should I screw up while dealing with them, directly or indirectly, or as long as they know me. If I had enough people sign these contracts, and then I pissed off my wife, say, I could whip out one of my contracts and say, "Look, honey, John Schmoe here agreed to indemnify you in the event I made a mistake so please ask him to do the dishes and put away the laundry." If John Schmoe balked, I'd whip out another contract signed with somebody else, then another, until I found the push-over who'd do my chores for me.
Here's another example: I've been forgetting to wear my wedding band during RIMS ... during the day, during the night ... and no, I am not false advertising, Gail, or revealing some sort of unconscious weakness in morality or fidelity, Erin. It's because I am bouncing from one meeting to another, to a session, to the computer to blog, to a lunch meeting, to another interview, to another interview ... so my brain can only focus on 30-minute intervals throughout the day until I make it to the latest nighttime party at Stingaree and shut down my brain completely. (Great place, Stingaree. I could go to an insurance party there every night the rest of this year and not wonder at all how many other excellent restaurant and bar venues in the city of San Diego I'm missing out on.)
But my point is: Let's say my wife were to find out that I haven't been wearing my wedding band, and let's say she then uncharacteristically turned terribly vengeful and decided not to speak to me for a whole week or two after I get home (I say uncharacteristically because she'd only maybe not talk to me for a day, maybe a weekend).
Were I to have all of my interviewees, all of my session speakers, all of my co-workers and especially all of my bosses sign these indemnity provisions, then I could return home comfortably sleeping on my red-eye flight knowing that my wife would then have to not speak to one of them, not me. Through my indemnity obligation (and the words of someone speaking in the session are seeping into my consciousness now), I could transfer the risk of my own forgetfulness to some other party, any other party, and my wife would be forced to put up with me and curse under her breath at them.
But I'd first have to check PA state laws ... some states would prohibit John Schmoe from indemnifying her because of something caused by my own stupidity and laziness.
Yes, laziness is involved here too. Yesterday morning, I remembered that I forgot my ring ... but only after having walked 8 flights down the stairs in my hotel, and with 4 more flights to go, I sure as hell was not walking back up those 8 flights to get my ring. It's only a ring, people! And I surely wasn't even going to think of taking the elevator to get up there.
The elevators in my hotel do not stop at any floor where someone is waiting for them. They might not stop at all. They merely rush up and down, without pausing anywhere for a lit down button or a glowing up button, whooshing past each floor loud enough so you can hear them come and go, passing you over and over and over and over.
Any takers on indemnifying the hotel should I kick in their elevator doors?
Posted by Matthew Brodsky
(Read the complete Risk at RIMS 2008 blog at riskatrims2008.blogspot.com. )
May 1, 2008
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