How I Turned 139 Angry People To 139 Grateful People in Less Than 1 Minute

I’m writing this post from the rooftop of the Marriott hotel in Hyderabad, India. I’ve been here for the best part of the week to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. It’s a big event with 1500 participants from 140 countries around the world. The US State Department sponsored my trip, as they did partly or entirely for a lot of other participants. Awesome, right?

I’m getting to it…

In any event, especially in big ones like this, one can expect that organizational mistakes will happen. It’s not the end of the world. But when these mistakes happen one on top of the other, then it’s not just a misfortune for the affected but also a hazard for the event’s brand. The more people experience discomfort, the more social media posts will be out there underlining that operational incompetence.

In our case, the first mistake led the organizers to overbook the convention center’s hotel. So, they had to inform 140 of us that we’d stay at a hotel 20km away from the event place, holding a lower rating than the one originally booked. This sucked, especially in a city so traffic jammed as Hyderabad.

You’d expect us to be a little upset about it. You’d expect a great email copy communicating some other good news at the same time would make it up a little bit. They did write a good copy. But at the same time, they made a second mistake.

The worst thing they could do. Email marketing 101. Actually, Internet 101.

They didn’t Bcc us. I got the email along with the list of 139 displeased people who saw their personal data on public display.

I honestly don’t know when I got more furious. It was either when I saw the list of the recipients or when some of them hit Reply All and spammed us with emails like “Thank you for informing me” “I’ll arrive at 3 am, will there someone be there to pick me up?” etc.


(I’m Mediterranean, the temper comes with the package)

But then, I took a deep breath and realized I had a bigger problem. Being placed at the new hotel, I’d be away from the other Greek delegates. I’d be alone, in a place far away, without any means to tell who of the other hotel guests were also GES participants.

Wait a minute.

I DID know who my fellow Marriott guests were! I could set up a WhatsApp group and invite them via -hopefully the last- reply-all email they’d get.

(Scroll to the end to read the how-to guide for this)

And I did.

The result?

It was fascinating!

More than half of the people on the list joined within the first hours. We exchanged more than 500 messages in the three days of the conference. People used the group chat to arrange transportation, organize the first night’s networking dinner at the Marriott, ask and get information, ask for help, even organize a trivia night at the lobby. Using information from the group, I got an Uber for 5€ to the convention center instead of getting a cab for 27€. And I also got myself a big head start on the networking thing. When I introduced myself to someone from Marriott, they almost always said “Oh are you the same Vasso from WhatsApp? Thank you for setting that up, that really helped!”

Let’s analyze a little bit what happened there.

I found myself in an unpleasant situation. I got frustrated. Then all the yoga and positive thinking kicked in, and I realized I could take advantage of the situation and solve another problem I had, with literally no effort. At the same time, I was incidentally solving everyone’s problem.

And that’s why I wanted to share this experience with you.

Everyday life isn’t perfect. Instead of complaining about it, you can think productively and do something to fix it. Not only your life will get better; Not only you might help others’ lives to get better, but you’ll also get something you didn’t have before: When you solve someone else’s problem, they are, more often than not, grateful to you. And this has incredible effects on your life being easier in the long term.

Did you have any similar experience?

Please share it in the comments!

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***How to set up a WhatsApp group with strangers***

Open the App, select the New message icon > New group and select a friend who wouldn’t mind helping you. Then, in the conversation window, open the top right menu > Group Info scroll a bit and select Add Participant.. > Invite to group via Link > copy link and send it to your people

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