Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My “Enhanced” TSA Experience

I didn’t really know what to expect when I stood in line at the airport last week. I had read about the new security procedures, but wasn’t particularly worried about getting though them. I have a pretty laid back approach when I travel – go with the flow.

Stepping into the full body scanner was surreal. These science-fictiony contraptions kind of reminded me of the “beamer” on Star Trek. You stand in a round glass tube with your arms above your head and the walls swirl around you as some guy in another room sees you naked. As discomfiting as this was, I endured it without too much trouble. But then, for some reason, I got the pat-down.

A female TSA agent motioned me out of the scanner and pointed to two of those foot stickers on the floor. I assumed the position, wondering what was going on. The agent, who didn’t say one word to me through the entire procedure, played with her walkie talkie while I stood for perhaps 2-3 minutes, waiting for who knows what. Then she abruptly stepped over to me, motioned that I should extend my arms and then began running her hands over my body – in places only my doctor and husband have ever touched. I was shocked speechless. I couldn’t even think to tell her to not touch my junk.

Oh, and by the way, I had an audience for the whole thing. Judging by the way they stared, it must have been quite a show.

Maybe it would have been better if the TSA employee had explained to me what was happening, why I was subjected to a pat-down in addition to the scanner. Or let me know that I had the right to a private pat-down away from all the eyes. But I doubt that even these actions would make this a tolerable experience. It was too humiliating, too invasive, too dehumanizing.

I dread my next trip.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Insight with POP

Today I attended our local ISES meeting, held at the Minneapolis Hilton. A good-sized crowd turned out to see Ken Kristoffersen of POP, formerly known as Experiential Events, with three locations in Canada. Ken was just off a flight from India so was experiencing some jet lag, but he managed to keep the ISES folks engaged with stories and photos.

His main point was that we need to get away from the “pretty party” mentality and see events as strategic communication tools for conveying messages. He’s not so interested in d├ęcor (decorations) as much as design—the thought processes that goes into crafting your client’s message. And, he says that the force now driving industry innovation is evolving from experiential to “stimulating your guests to think.”

Intriguing idea. Anyone else have some thoughts on this?