Batter Up: Event Lessons From the World Series

What this year’s thriller of a World Series can teach meeting planners about designing and executing conferences or meetings.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs did what many believed would never happen: They won the World Series for the first time since 1908, breaking a 108-year-long curse by beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a game 7 thriller—in a series that saw them down three games to one at one point—that not only went for 10 innings but also included a 17-minute rain delay.

Even I, a lifelong Yankees, found myself rooting for the Cubs.

And, as a meetings blogger watching and reading news coverage related to the Cubs-Indians matchup, I couldn’t help but draw some lessons and reminders for meeting planners from a World Series that’s sure to go down in history.

The power of fans. Both teams have a long list of celebrity fans. Among them: Michelle Obama, Eddie Vedder, LeBron James, Tom Hanks. But Bill Murray may be the biggest Cubs fan ever—and his reaction following their win is must-watch. Then there’s less-known fans like 104-year-old Emily Serian, who was in the stands in 1948 when the Indians last won the World Series and threw out the first pitch on her 100th birthday. Her message to the team: “Win one before I die!”

As a meeting planner, consider how you can engage your long-time attendees and share their stories to give a face to your meeting—and hopefully woo other prospects to attend!

The energy of live events. A World Series ticket was one of hardest to get—and also one of the priciest. But, even as I watched from home, I could sense how electric and engaged the crowds were at both ballparks.

Think about how your next meeting or event can harness the energy and camaraderie found at a live sporting event. What content or speakers could you offer that would inspire attendees’ passions and really connect them with one another? And while this same energy could be hard to re-create in a virtual or live-streaming environment, consider how you can bring a stadium mentality to these events as well.

The potential for the greater good. Following the fifth inning of game 5, the Cubs and Indians put competition aside for a few minutes to support Stand Up to Cancer. Players, staff, and spectators stood and held up signs with the names of the loved ones they’ve lost to the disease. This World Series tradition is now in its eighth year.

Consider how your association can use its conference to bring attention to a larger message or platform. Or give attendees the opportunity to give back and volunteer in the local community where the event is taking place.

What other lessons can you take away from the World Series when it comes to your meetings and events? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Chicago Cubs fans gathered to watch the game at Kelly's bar celebrate their team's World Series game 7 victory. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!