We all know that sometimes the event planning invitations and confirmations may frequently take until the last minute, maybe even the day of the event. And walk-ins happen.
You want to finalize your guest list as early as possible, but it just doesn’t always work out that way with business events. As it occurs with client seminars, golf outings, fund raising dinners and just about every event organized, so did it happen with the guest list for the first state dinner of the Obama administration – confirmations and and declines were still being communicated up to the hour of the event.
It also seems that the couple who has been labeled as the “White House party crashers” may have been given some encouragement that they could attend the dinner, but were officially “declined” while in transit to the event without their knowledge. They arrived, they explained themselves, they enjoyed the event, and when it was discovered – it has become the talk of the country. We don’t fully know yet if the story worked out this way, or if the couple’s reality celebrity-wannabe status has blinded us to a different story. Regardless, it has been dubbed “Crashergate” (I hope not so seriously…).
The point, however, is that if the events staff were present to provide a personal welcome and greeting for all guests as they arrived at the East Gate of the White House, the matter could have been easily managed. Event coordinators understand the importance of making guests feel welcome from the moment they arrive. But this was a critical and overlooked step by the White House social secretary and her team; the Secret Service fulfilled this responsibility, and I suspect it probably didn’t feel very personalized to the official guests when they arrived, either. It has been reported that she will make changes for future events, but the results of the communications error has triggered outrage and investigation by congressional committee and politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Party crashers and gate crashers are a reality that events face everywhere. I suggest the White House make its changes and the country to move on.
Originally Published December 7, 2009.