PCMA Wrap-Up

As Director of Media Relations for ConventionPlanit.com, your busy Blogger was invited on a walking tour of McCormick Place West for a look at how PCMA and their partners addressed some of the opportunities and challenges producing the Convening Leaders Conference.

We visited the “Behind the Scenes” bleachers where attendees were able to watch as producers called out camera changes and speakers were shuttled to and from the green room and strolled through the first-ever PCMA Park, a salute to Chicago’s inspirational landscapes.

The Learning Lounge was the place to find TechCentral, the Globalization Hub and a wellness area among other educational content…i.e. diverse types of seating arrangements.

global hub

PCMA’s Global Hub

With so much to cover at this conference, I can only include brief mention of other initiatives; Hospitality Helping Hands, 20 in Their Twenties, Party with a Purpose, Thought Leaders, Citywide Auction, Decision to Attend Study and Uber Partners.

Stay tuned for all this and more at Convening Leaders 2016. See you in Vancouver!

Make No Little Plans at PCMA’s Convening Leaders

This year’s Convening Leader’s theme was “Make No Little Plans” and you can tell that 18 months ago, the committee organizing this event took this advice to heart.

make no little plans

From the informative and exciting General Sessions to the various Education tracts including Globalization, Operational Strategy, Event Technology & Intelligence and Meeting & Experience Design, there was a wealth of knowledge to be mined. As if all this didn’t provide enough stimulation, the Learning Lounge made its second appearance with a dizzying array of sessions, group discussions and hands on activities designed to bring the learning to life.

As usual, the General Sessions were stimulating and relevant. Monday’s speaker was futurist Andrew Zolli who can predict the future, but only because he’s paid attention to the trends that are taking us there. My favorite take-aways were:

  • The biggest technology-related risk we face is new distractions: “Within your phone, there are now thousands of places to be.”
  • “It’s the fast-moving trends that get the most attention, but it’s the slow-moving trends that have the most power,” he said. “These are the ones that we have to figure out.” i.e. There is more concern about terrorism when global warming is what we should be worried about!

However, we can recover and thrive amid disruption around the world by creating cultures of trust, so when disruptive periods occur, everyone can work together. Comforting thought!

Tuesday’s GS featured champion swimmer, Diana Nyad. She literally “dove in” to her topic of how we should never give up on our dreams by citing her own history of perseverance in her quest to complete the 110 mile swim from Cuba to Florida. More than just an athlete, she proved to be a riveting speaker, combining dramatic storytelling with a natural sense of humor and a charismatic stage presence.

Diana Nyad, presenting at Tuesday's General Session

Diana Nyad, presenting at Tuesday’s General Session

PCMA’s Convening Leaders Starts January Off Strong

pcma convening leaders

Neither snow falling from above, slush building underfoot or wind catching one in the mid-section prevented over 4,000 participants from gathering  Jan. 11-14 for the 2015 PCMA Convening Leaders meeting in its hometown of Chicago. Your intrepid ConventionPlanit.com Blogger (no stranger to this type of weather) was one of the attendees’ intent on beginning the New Year by joining colleagues for 3 days of education and networking.

PCMA kicked off on Sunday with the Opening Reception held at the prestigious Museum of Science and Industry which was transformed to display Chicago neighborhoods. Food stations showcased yummy tidbits from around the globe while entertainers mingled with the attendees (I nearly became a participant in a Tango demonstration moving around the floor!)

pcma opening reception

PCMA’s Opening Reception

I caught up with CP.com suppliers Julie Dodds from Visit Anchorage, Gerry Kingston from Delta Air Lines and Jane Schuldt with World Marketing Group as well as Advisory Council member David Williams from IEEE attending with his family. His daughter is looking to join the hospitality industry upon graduation…what an intro to our world!

New Year, New Look

As the New Year gets underway, ConventionPlanit.com is ready with a fresh update to the website. If you have visited the site recently, you will notice a clean, streamlined new homepage design and improved navigational tabs to help direct users. The new ‘my meetings’ link allows you direct access to your RFP OrganizationSM charts from any page on the site.

The refresh to the website comes from direct feedback from the CP Advisory Council of meeting planners. The website is now more accessible, with full functionality available on mobile devices and iPads. You can truly check your RFP quotes from anywhere now!

Over the next several months, we will be unveiling many added features and improvements to the overall website and in particular, the search capabilities, which will soon allow users even more customization and freedom to narrow down destinations, facilities and service providers.

If you have suggestions of new features for the website, be sure to let us know by commenting below!

CP Heads to Expo! Expo!

This is your traveling blogger reporting in from L.A. after attending the IAEE 2015 Expo!Expo! held Dec.9-11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Beginning with the Opening General Session and CEM presentation, the event moved on to the Tradeshow in the Conference Hall and then to the Opening Reception occurring next door at Nokia Plaza near the Staples Center.

ConventionPlanit.com recently signed a collaboration agreement with IAEE, and Deborah Shepard and I were on hand as “first-timers” to the event.

Deborah Shepard readies the ConventionPlanit.com booth for the first day of the Expo!Expo! trade show at L.A. Live.

Deborah Shepard readies the ConventionPlanit.com booth for the first day of the Expo!Expo! trade show at L.A. Live.

David DuBois, President and CEO, welcomed the audience by greetings in English, Japanese and Spanish, demonstrating that 30 countries were represented by the attendees. The group was then addressed by Ernest Wooden, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, a CP.com member.

The trade show opened in typical L.A. style with the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band escorting attendees to the show floor by playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” The exhibition offered a combination of business and education and the planners on the floor represented the best of the exhibitions and events industry.

CP.com member United Airlines hard at work during Expo!Expo!

CP.com member United Airlines hard at work during Expo!Expo!

Deborah and I walked the show floor and were interested to find a number of CP.com members exhibiting. Of course we have photos to share with you!

Mark McMinn and Wendy Frank of Team San Jose decorated their booth with some early holiday spirit!

Mark McMinn and Wendy Frank of Team San Jose decorated their booth with some early holiday spirit!

At the various tradeshows ConventionPlanit participates in throughout the year, it is always a treat to catch up with our member hotels and cvb’s.

Kendra London of the Sheraton Memphis Downtown and Nicole Seltzer of the Memphis Cook Convention Center found a moment to relax in between clients.

Kendra London of the Sheraton Memphis Downtown and Nicole Seltzer of the Memphis Cook Convention Center found a moment to relax in between clients.

In between stints on the tradeshow floor, I was able to check out the educational session focusing on “Exhibition Marketing – Asian Practice.”


Most interesting were mentions of CP.com members Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

It was demonstrated how Asia has become the hub of the global exhibitions and events market and that these world class facilities are the reasons why Singapore and Malaysia are known as superior M.I.C.E. destinations.

The closing party was held at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live. The last chance to meet with colleagues before heading home is always a fun time, and all are excited to meet up again for Expo!Expo! 2015 in Baltimore.

See you there!

IMEX America Wrap Up

I found a few more photos floating around on my devices that I wanted to share with you all. The third and final day of the show, I had a chance to check out some of CP’s partners amazing booths.

Associated Luxury Hotels International had a very large space at the show, and with 160+ member hotels, it was easy to see why the extra space was needed!

ALHI's Stand

ALHI’s Stand

One of CP’s newest CVB members, Team San Jose, had a great display. Stay tuned to learn more about their great destination on CP.com!

San Jose Stand

Team San Jose Stand

Visit Anchorage was busy with appointments when I stopped by, but rest assured, their booth was filled with their famous adorable stuffed moose giveaways.

Visit Anchorage

Visit Anchorage

Los Angeles had an amazing display of photography at their booth that showcased some of their great attractions that make the city so unique.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Maureen attended the IMEX America Closing Press Conference, which this year expanded to include the three representatives pictured with their partner, Ray Bloom. Obviously the 4th edition of IMEX America surpassed all records previously established.

Allow me to share some year over year statistics with you:

  • Exhibiting companies representing 240 countries  (13% increase)
  • 2900 hosted buyers (8% increase)
  • 53,000 one-to-one business appointments (6% increase)
  • 1250 group appointments attended by 10,600 hosted buyers (12% increase)

L to R: Cindy D’Aoust – COO of MPI; Chandra Allison – Vice President of Sales The Venetian|The Palazzo; Cathy Tull – Senior V.P. Marketing, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Association; Ray Bloom: Chairman of IMEX

Maureen also had a chance to explore some of the other stands, and wouldn’t you know, she decided to take a nap! The Delta Air Lines stand brought all the comforts of flight to Las Vegas with this plush bedding and seat.

A Delta flight attendant tucks Maureen in

A Delta flight attendant tucks Maureen in

Last, but certainly not least, I wanted to share a picture of the “Three Amigas” as we dubbed ourselves – the ConventionPlanit IMEX America 2014 Team!

Ashley, Maureen, Sandra

Ashley, Maureen, Sandra

Mark your calendars for October 13-15, 2015 for the fifth anniversary of IMEX America!

IMEX America Hotel Stay

Now that I have returned to the East Coast, I could not resist sharing one more post from my trip to IMEX America last week.

Thanks to The Palms Casino, I attended the show in style!

My room was in the recently renovated Ivory Toewr, which has won awards for its design. The Ivory Tower is also home to the (in)famous Real World Suite from MTV”s popular show!

My room at The Palms Casino

My room at The Palms Casino

After all of the hustle and bustle from learning, networking and attending the  expo each day, my comfortable room was the perfect place to relax and rest. The hotel was a quick taxi ride away from The Sands Expo Center.

My room, on the 24th Floor, had a pretty spectacular view. It was amazing to see the mountains by day and the lights of Sin City by night!

View from my room

View from my room

In addition to stellar accommodations, The Palm is home to over eight restaurants, a basketball hoop, two bowling lanes, one recording studio, a 2,500 seat concert theater, and 60,000 square feet of new meeting spaces including a new ballroom.

Be sure to check it out on your next trip to Las Vegas!


IMEX America Day 3

Yesterday was an even busier day than Tuesday for us at IMEX America, believe it or not! Wednesday was full of appointments at the booth with meeting planners, including two with members of our Advisory Council.

In true fashion, they were able to provide some excellent suggestions on features to add to RFP Organization, our RFP response system that displays responses on customized spreadsheets. Stay tuned for those suggestions to be coming soon to the website

For the attendees, the robust education here at IMEX America, provided with a partnership with MPI, was a huge draw. Several of our Hosted Buyers will be sharing their reflections and findings from some of these education sessions in future blog posts.!

While I was busy with our appointments, Maureen was busy with appointments of her own, presentations and press conferences, too!

First up was a press conference for the Prague Convention Bureau. Martina Fundaro spoke to the group about Prague’s new destination branding, which will present a unified visual of the city. The bureau launched a redesigned website earlier this year – be sure to check it out!

Prague Press Conference

Martina Fundaro at the Prague Press Conference

She then joined our Hosted Buyers for a group appointment with the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. They presented our group with beautiful Malaysian sarongs, an indication of true Malaysian hospitality.

Hosted Buyers

Hosted Buyers listen to a presentation

After the show closed for the day, we were off to our next reception, which was sponsored by Delta Air Lines. Through Delta’s Meet and Global Meetings programs, meeting planners can receive discounted flights for their groups. We had a great time seeing many of our friends from the Delta Team as well as some of our Hosted Buyers and other CP Members.

To top it off, I won a raffle for a trip to Minneapolis. Thanks Delta!

IMEX America Day 2 Recap

The expo hall at IMEX America opened yesterday and the show floor was certainly the place to be. The attendees were waiting at the entrance for the floor to officially open and then they flooded in!

The CP Booth was decked out with our new banners and linens from GNP Branded Gear. The banners reflect the design of our new homepage (launched earlier this month!)

CP  Booth      CP Booth

Throughout the day, we spoke with many planners who made appointments to learn more about ConventionPlanit’s RFP services. The planners were happy to know that CP is 100% commission-free and they also loved the 24-hour RFP response guarantee.

Maureen and I realized we unintentionally coordinated our outfits for the day.

Maureen and I unintentionally coordinated our outfits!

Maureen and I at the CP Booth

After the show, CP sponsored a reception for our hosted buyers and supplier clients at the Bar Helix, located inside the Venetian | Palazzo. The reception was exactly what the doctor ordered after a long day at the show!

We had the chance to catch up with some of our long time members of CP, including Visit Berlin.

Me, Heike from Visit Berlin  & Maureen

Me, Heike from Visit Berlin & Maureen

We were so thrilled that so many of our guests were able to attend.

Guests mingled at the CP Reception

Guests mingled at the CP Reception

After the reception, it was time to call it a night and begin preparations for Day 3!