February 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts February 2002 Current Issue
February 2002
Short Cuts:Two of a kind

imageWhen hosting same-gender couples at special events, old-fashioned common sense goes a long way toward making attendees and their guests feel welcome, says Dave Ryder, vice president and general manager of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Corporate Destination Services of Arizona Inc., a meeting and incentive planning firm.

“Planning events that include same-sex couples, whether men or women, is a cultural issue,” says Ryder. “The bottom line is, we need to consider ways to make the guest feel comfortable by including him or her fully in the program.”

Among Ryder’s suggestions for planners:
" Know the full name of the attendee’s guest, and address the invitation to both parties, just as you would for a heterosexual couple.

" Place name tags together under the attendee’s name to make the guest’s tag easier to locate.

" Don’t photograph attendees and guests without first asking their permission. Some people might be uncomfortable having their images displayed in company publications.

" If introducing the guest to others, avoid using labels such as “significant other,” “partner” or even “friend.” Rather, simply introduce the guest by name. Says Ryder, “It is not the meeting planner’s place to unveil personal information. The decision should be left up entirely to the attendee.”

Of course, adds Ryder, planners especially independents should fully understand company policy regarding diversity before beginning to plan any meeting or event.

• C.A.S.

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