Successful Meetings - February 2008 - (Page 22)

Planner Spotlight > Michele Dempsey The Office Convention The Dwight Stuff In late 2006, Michele Dempsey of Scranton, PA, read an article about fans of the cult film Napoleon Dynamite flocking to Preston, ID, where the movie was shot. If Preston could become a tourist destination, she mused, why not her hometown, setting of the Emmy-winning sitcom The Office? “There’s so much great stuff happening here,” says Dempsey, president of a Scranton architecture firm. “We’ve got a great mayor, a massive revitalization, and new restaurants and nightlife.” So she sent an e-mail to some friends, and The Office Convention was born. Or rather, the idea was born. The core planning committee—Dempsey plus her friends Tim Holmes of Times-Shamrock Communications (a local media company) and Sara Hailstone of the mayor’s office—quickly signed on local partners (the Radisson and Hilton hotels, the Lackawanna County nection,” says Dempsey. But over time, the trio convinced NBC it was feasible: “We had talked to the police, we had hotel space lined up—we proved we could pull this thing off.” TRIAL RUN In May, when cast members Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) and Angela Kinsey (Angela) happened to do a publicity appearance at the Scranton shopping mall, Dempsey used the occasion to announce the upcoming convention and test out which types of events and fan interactions worked best. “They liked their visit so much they got the rest of the cast excited,” says Dempsey. “We got to be friendly with them, and eventually they let us know that other characters were interested in coming.” Still, formal invitations couldn’t be sent out until September, less than a month out. Dempsey credits family help for the event’s suc- Dates: Oct. 26-28, 2007 Attendance: over 10,000 Tickets sold: 3,000 Cost: $300,000 Economic impact: $1.5 to $2 million THEOFFICE Cast members and fans interact at The Office Convention in Scranton, PA CVB, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and others). But in terms of a convention where the show’s fans could meet the characters, “We were selling smoke,” Dempsey admits. “We didn’t have a single cast member on board.” FAMILY AFFAIR Luckily, that would change. Dempsey learned that a cousin of hers used to work for Jeff Zucker, president of NBC. She sent her cousin a written proposal and was put in touch with a network publicity person, who guided Dempsey through the Byzantine process of crafting invitations that would get the attention of cast members’ gatekeepers: their publicists. “She only talked to us at first because of my concess. “We all come from large families—I can’t underestimate that,” Dempsey notes. “If you ask a sibling to do something, it’s very different from asking a run-of-the-mill volunteer.” But she does regret one such request: “I’d fantasized about taking [executive producer] Greg Daniels on a tour of Scranton, but when the moment came, I had to ask my sister to do it,” Dempsey sighs. “When you’re in charge, you can’t have fun—you have to make sure everyone else is having fun.” —Sara J. Welch Does your meeting deserve to be in the Spotlight? Write us at, and you could be profiled in SM. FEBRUARY 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS PHOTOS: TOM BONOMO FROM ELECTRIC CITY 22

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - February 2008

Successful Meetings - February 2008
Editor's Note
Trade Shows
On the Record
Planner's Spotlight
Websites of the Month
Technology Talk
Personal Success
Food & Beverage
On Site
Tools of the Trade
The Rainbow Connection
The CVB in Your Backyard
Welcome to the Webolution
The Rail Deal
Spas with a Sense of Place
Places & Spaces
Mystic, CT.
Hong Kong
Florida’s East Coast
Atlantic City
Maui, Kauai, & Lanai

Successful Meetings - February 2008