A little while ago, like a month or so, I saw an advert in the papers for an event called BW Open Minds and it featured a long list of famous speakers, but the real draw was that Sir Richard Branson was coming!
I was pretty pumped about this so immediately reached out to a contact at the Bustan hotel for more information, and emailed the organizers in the address given in the ad. I got a reply from the organizers after a few hours (I also heard back from the hotel too) and my heart sank. The ticket was RO 500 to attend the conference, and RO 650 if I wanted to attend the conference and the gala dinner on the night of the 3rd of September.
I was not going to spend that kind of money to attend the conference and had planned to do a blog post about the event, and to have a whinge about the cost of the ticket, but decided not to (I got lazy).
Imagine my amusement last night when I saw Sir Richard make a statement on his FB page:
Well, imagine that, an event organizer in Oman not paying it's fee's upfront. That's never happened before! But the fee was supposed to be a donation to charity, and still not made. I shared this quickly on my FB group page this morning and then set off to a busy morning of meetings - I checked in at lunch and was surprised by the amount of comments and interaction the share had received, and thought I'd write about here on the blog too.
During the course of this morning it has transpired that (from a few sources that attended the conference) that the organizer of the event made an announcement that Sir Richard had missed his flight and may be attending tomorrow.
As the day has moved on, I saw this picture floating around social media, where Sir Richards face has been what appears to be tippex'd out from a sign board at the event. Too funny, but he might be coming tomorrow, because he missed his flight. Let's pretend that he doesn't own an airline and a private jet to boot.
Now, lets just step away from the fact that this event has been organized terribly, and has only served to make Oman in general look silly and ask some hard questions:
1. Look at that sponsor list? Some *really* big players there... Bank Muscat, Nawras, Oman Air, Sultanate of Oman, Oman Airports Management Company, Merge (lets just say Sabco radio), Times of Oman and a few more. That is a lot of sponsorship, before the massive price-per-ticket cost to attend the event. How was it that the events BIGGEST DRAW was not paid (charitable donation made) a priority? I wonder if the sponsors are pleased that they've been associated with this balls up?
2. Aside from the financial muppetry displayed, to quote from the organizers website, "The thought leadership forum, which will feature 10 global speakers, all success icons in their own fields, is created with an objective of knowledge transfer to local youth and young entrepreneurs with an inspirational tone to Synergise, Motivate and Educate (SME)". Apparently the lessons learnt here on the face of it is that you should gather as many sponsors as you can, not pay your bills and then lie to your paying customers.
It's not all bad though - people I know that are attending this event have said it's been good and they've found the experience beneficial so far - I'm truly very glad. If I'd have forked out US$ 1,300 to attend this event and Sir Richard was NOT giving a talk, I'd be P-I-S-S-E-D.
I wonder if the organizers will be offering a refund? Or if they're gonna keep lying about Sir Richard missing his flight.
Tomorrow I'm announcing a new concert I'm organizing, Michael Jackson will be performing live, and Elvis will be making a cameo duet with Tupac - tickets are just a snap at $1,000 a pop - get em while they're hot cos they're gonna sell fast. I've also got some invisible gold for sale too.
What a world.