Reunite With Industry Friends

During each ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition, thousands of association leaders come together to reunite with their favorite industry friends, connect with new and impressive professional peers, participate in advanced education from progressive thought leaders, and celebrate the industry at a number of networking and recognition events.

At the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting, August 8–11 in Detroit, MI, join 5,000+ of your colleagues from across the country for three full days of powerful networking, thought-provoking education sessions, and innovative business solutions. Register today to enjoy the $150 early bird savings!

There are hundreds of reasons to attend this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting. What’s yours?

Learn more about & register for the ASAE Annual Meeting.

Be sure to visit in Booth 934 and participate in the onsite Stellar Tip Contest!

Get Organized

It’s been a flurry of activity so far in 2015 as association meeting professionals everywhere have put on a multitude of conventions, seminars, workshops, webinars and other events to serve their members.

The busy season never seems to end, but the spring flurry of activity is now behind us, providing a window to regroup and find ways to work more efficiently. has many tools to help meeting professionals do just that, and they are all free to meeting professionals!

Try some of these:

RFP Valet® – To support meeting planners with efficient RFP sourcing, offers a personal valet to consult with you and identify suitable suppliers. They help you send the RFPs to a targeted list and obtain bidding responses in 24 hours – guaranteed! You can use your own RFP document – no re-keying is required. Meeting professionals love this service – read what they have to say about it.

RFP OrganizationSM – Once the RFPs start rolling in, how can you easily process and compare them? offers a complimentary, easy to use sourcing tool to make this easy. Track incoming RFP responses on a streamlined, online chart with this free service. Say goodbye to disorganized email responses! Check out a sample chart.

Stellar Tips – Just when you think you’ve used up all your own ideas for future meetings, it’s time to tap into the collective knowledge of your peers for fresh new approaches. The Stellar Tips Archives offer just what you need! It’s a treasure trove of hundreds of ideas posted by other meeting professionals you can use for your upcoming events. Just type in a keyword and watch the targeted ideas appear in your screen. But don’t stop there – be sure to submit your own meeting-related tips and vote on the ideas from others that you like the most. Each month the Stellar Tip that receives the most votes wins a $100 gift certificate!

Green Meeting Tips – How green are your meetings? What are the latest best practices in this area? Virtually every association today is striving to make their meetings more environmentally sustainable. Meeting professionals need information and advice, and provides it in our Green Meetings Best Practices online guide. It includes a wealth of industry resources and articles on green meetings. Blog – Join the conversation in the blog, where you can read the latest posts on a range of meetings topics and some of the most popular recent articles in the e-Alert newsletter.

Testimonials from your Colleagues – Want to know what your meeting planner colleagues are saying about It’s easy to find out – check out the testimonials and learn what makes their lives easier and how you can tap into the same resources.

If you need more information or have questions, call the RFP Hotline at 866-922-8988 or

A Round Rant

Enjoy a special guest post from Al Rickard, CAE, President of Association Vision, a communications company;


Try to envision the next convention experience for your attendees: Your members stream into the packed opening session to a drumbeat of lively music. They reconnect with friends and colleagues. The stage is set with elegant lighting and exciting graphics. The speakers deliver their messages with energy and connect with the crowd. Everyone has a positive takeaway as they anticipate the rest of the meeting.

Then the crowd disperses to several concurrent breakout sessions. But the rooms are relatively dark and devoid of energy. The speakers are hard to see from the back, and there is no lighting on them. The room is set mostly (or entirely) with rounds with chairs on all sides, forcing half the attendees to turn their backs on the tables and block the already tight walkway space. It also prevents attendees from using the table space for their laptop or to take notes.

More people pour into the rooms (especially for the more popular sessions) and the limited seating at the rounds is quickly filled. Staff members scramble to cart in more chairs to build a couple rows in the back of the room. But it’s not enough – dozens of people are left standing or sitting on the floor in the back. Anyone arriving a little bit late takes one peek into the room and bails out to try to find another session they like. And they paid a big registration fee for this?!

Sure, it’s hard to predict how many people might attend each breakout session. But this scene is repeated over and over again at major conferences. Just dividing the number of people at the opening session by the number of breakout sessions should yield an appropriate number of chairs that will be needed. But somehow the formula usually doesn’t work (or is not being applied).

The oft-repeated rationale for setting breakout sessions with rounds is that it promotes attendee interaction. That’s fine for the 10 minutes before the session starts, but after that, attention is focused on the speakers, and side conversations are distracting at best and rude at worst. Most of the space in the room is occupied by large tables that position attendees further from the speakers and waste most of the space. Meanwhile, dozens of people are sitting on the floor in the back of the room trying to make themselves comfortable.

It’s 2015, people! Can’t we do better than this?

What are the alternatives? Crescent rounds (with seating only on one side of round tables) solves the backs-to-the-table problem, but it also cuts the number of seats nearly in half. Classroom-style seating might seem stuffy and formal to some, but it can double the number of chairs in the room and position people so they are facing the speaker. Theater-style seating increases capacity exponentially, albeit while sacrificing table space. Combinations of seating configurations are often appropriate as long as the necessary seating can be provided.

In his book, Seating Matters, Paul O. Radde, Ph.D, presents a compelling case for improving seating at meetings. He advocates curved-row seating, among other approaches, to improve the attendee experience. While straight tables make this challenging, they can be positioned at an angle on each side to make it easier to see the speaker without turning too much.

In his “Audience Member’s Bill of Rights,” Radde notes that attendees should have a clear, close, and unobstructed view of the presentation and that seats should be facing forward within 5-12 degrees of the main focal point of the presentation. Do breakout sessions at your meeting meet this standard?

If all this seems elementary, it is! Yet this seemingly simple seating problem continues year after year at meetings everywhere. Round tables have a purpose – they are ideal for meals and small discussion groups. But for breakout sessions, they are just “out of round.”

What do you think? Comment below and let’s fix this problem!

A Relaxed Yet Refined Meeting Experience

Ritz Carlton Half Moon BayAs the only luxury Ocean front golf resort in the San Francisco Bay Area, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay provides guests with a relaxed yet refined experience, whether for a romantic getaway, meeting or special event.  The award-winning resort is excited to unveil a complete enhancement of its guestrooms and suites.

Inspired by the cool tones of grey and blue from the neighboring Pacific Ocean, mixed with beachside accents such as pickled wood entry floors and driftwood inspired headboards, the enhanced guestrooms radiate a sense of a California coastal estate throughout the 261-guestrooms.

The guestroom corridors begin the journey to the guest’s retreat with ocean colors and muted orange hues which are found in a patterned carpet reminiscent of ocean kelp mixed with mid-century graphics. The spacious accommodations welcome the guest with paneled walls painted in a crisp white finish with plush draperies and rich carpeting surround the room in cool grey and blue muted hues. Improved technology featured throughout the guestroom such as multiple plugs for powering any device, and generous built-in storage encasing the HDTV, laptop safe and hanging closet and drawers. The end result is an atmosphere of understated, timeless elegance reflecting the tranquil beauty of the Pacific Ocean and Northern California coastline.

During a stay the idyllic property provides a magnificent backdrop for a fun-filled vacation along the Northern California coast with an endless array of outdoor activities.  The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay features diverse and vibrant surroundings ranging from world-class beaches to lush recreational areas. Guests can enjoy all things adventure including running, hiking, biking, surfing, golfing, kayaking, whale watching, horseback riding, and paddle boarding, just to name a few. Although not recommended to participate in all of these activities in one day, the options are extensive and offer something for everyone.

By the end of a busy day, guests can enjoy roasting s’mores by the fire pits on The Ocean Terrace or retiring to their guest room for a muscle soothing Arnica bath, designed to relieve aches and pains with an aromatic soak of regenerating bath salts and Arnica essential oil.

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

1 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 • (650) 712-7000

Sign Up – Friday Webinar Series

What: RFP Organization Webinar

When: Friday June 26 | 11:30-12:00 pm est OR 3:30-4:00 pm est

-Learn how to streamline RFP sourcing with this free online tool by
-Receive personalized consulting
-Customize and compare necessary criteria
-Send RFPs to pre-qualified suppliers
-View compiled responses within your deadline on a comparison chart

Register by emailing or comment below for more information!

Women Who Wine

Earlier this week, ConventionPlanit hosted a group of VIP meeting planners at an exclusive Women Who Wine event for some industry networking, great food and of course, wine!

Advisory Council Members Donna Jarvis-Miller & Betti Kelso with ConventionPlanit Co-Founder David Markham

Advisory Council Members Donna Jarvis-Miller & Betti Kelso with ConventionPlanit Co-Founder David Markham

The event was held at The Lorien Hotel & Spa, a Kimpton Hotel, in Alexandria, Virginia. The outdoor courtyard was the perfect setting for the evening.


ConventionPlanit Co-Founder Katherine Markham with Carrie Abernathy & Terri Mobley

The planners even had an opportunity to win door prizes, including a trip to the Monaco in Pittsburgh, spa services at The Lorien, and a custom Thank You Video for their next meeting.

Kim Lawrence & Margurite Leishman

Kim Lawrence & Margurite Leishman

Betti Kelso & Carolyn Pemberton

Betti Kelso & Carolyn Pemberton

A big thank you to everyone who attended the event, and to The Lorien Hotel & Spa for hosting!


Advisory Council Members Kasey McNeil, Betti Kelso & Leslie Zeck

Learning Lounges Spark New Connections

algonquin lobby loungeThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a lounge as “a room in a private home or public building for leisure activities.” The meetings industry has redefined the lounge as a place where intimate learning, networking, and collaboration takes place.

The idea of lounge-setting educational and networking sessions often came about from need and desire. Meeting planners needed a way to fill empty floor space and attendees wanted an area in which to learn and network in smaller spaces. This became the impetus to carve out smaller spaces where attendees and speakers could have intimate and interactive learning experiences.

This transformational space is about so much more than just knowledge sharing. It’s about giving attendees the time and the place to immediately process what they’ve just heard during educational sessions. By discussing these fresh takeaways with colleagues in a meaningful way, all of those little “a ha!” moments can be cemented to memory and applied as reallearning.

The concept of the lounge has been very successful at many meetings, including those held by members of the Advisory Council.

“Lounges are the best places for informal learning opportunities because that’s where participants connect, share their common interests, and seek out others that may have a solution to their issues,” says Annette M. Suriani, CMP, Chief Meeting Strategist, AMS Meetings Solutions. “One thing I like to do is use the lounge for 20 minute meet-up sessions throughout the day. Have a specific topic that people can come to the lounge to discuss. I make an effort to include someone that has an expertise in that area to serve as a facilitator. It proves to be quite lively. Of course we use the lounge for our tweet-ups as well.”

Nedra Sneed, Conference Manager at Bioactives World Forum, adds, “When I think of the use of lounges to facilitate all types of networking, I think of IMEX America, where buyers meet with vendors from all over the world. ConventionPlanit has hosted me as a buyer the last five years. IMEX has a buyers’ lounge which is used by most buyers. You can get your name badge, have your appointment schedule printed out, get your travel refund, check your baggage for later pickup, have a snack, pick up a tote bag for all the literature you will pick up at appointments with vendors, check in for your departing flight and print your boarding pass, as well as just visit with others in the room. Various groups grab a table or couch area for private conversations while others like to meet strangers and exchange business cards as well as experiences at various venues. At IMEX, lunchtime is a time to eat with strangers and interact with them. I have done business with someone I met at lunch there. I find that most people who come to programs, short courses, or conferences have the mind-set to interact with each other and enjoy doing so. ‘Build it and they will come’ is a popular phrase from a movie. For interaction between meeting attendees, it could read, ‘Give them time and they will interact.’”

Valerie Sumner, Principal at VRS Meetings & Events, Inc., offers, “Learning lounges, tech labs, and ‘Ignite’ conversations are all tremendous learning, networking and collaborating formats for all types of events and conferences. VRS works with each of our clients to create unique open-space learning environments based on the industry, content, and resources particular to that industry. The attendee response is tremendous and the experience always valuable.”

How Meeting Planners Use Social Media

social mediaLast month we featured a post that described several successful strategies meeting professionals can use to engage attendees before, during, and after events.

In this post, members of the Meeting Professionals Advisory Council give advice and real-life examples about the use of social media at their meetings.

“At the International Association for Dental Research, we use live Twitter feeds to announce the start of sessions and for general informational announcements,” says Leslie Zeck, CMP, CMM, Director of Meetings at the International & American Association for Dental Research. “We have had a live crawl showing the tweets from our delegates throughout the meeting in a common area.

“We also implemented Instagram this year where our delegates could post photos. Many started with their abstract acceptance and posted photos of their acceptance letters, getting on the plane, landing in Boston and throughout the meeting. It was very well received. We observed so many delegates taking photos in front of our logos and signs this year that we plan to create a banner/photo area where they can do that in the coming years.”

“We just finished a terrific APhA2015 in San Diego March 27-30 and had a highly successful social media campaign including a social media wall scrolling communications, an APP help desk, a Selfie wall, and we selected our 2016 Annual Media logo via live tweet at the Second General Session,” explains Windy Christner, Senior Director, Meetings & Exposition at the American Pharmacists Association. “In all, using the APhA2015 hashtag, we tracked about 7,000 tweets during the meeting.”

“AIChe has employed social media – specifically Facebook, Twitter, and the AIChE blog to engage attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and sponsors,” says John Vasko,

Web Strategist at AIChE. “The institute live blogs, tweets, etc. throughout its Spring Meeting, Annual Meeting, Student Conference, and Global Congress on Process Safety and engages in online conversation using conference-specific hashtags. Usage of the hashtags and social media has increased since 2010 when they were first employed and year after year, members are posting more photos of events on twitter. You can find AIChE at and If you’re attending the upcoming meetings, tweet using #AIChESpring and #GCPS.”

“As I travel to participate at conferences or to execute conferences and meetings, I have observed how event participants are actively and constantly tweeting (retweeting), liking, friending (unfriending) posting (reposting), and commenting on things of interest to them,” notes Carrine V. M. Todman-Lewis, MTA, CMP, CGMP, CVEP, Meeting Industry Consultant and Doctoral Scholar Practitioner.

“For the event organizer, this is a great opportunity to leverage participant engagement and free marketing and public relations. Furthermore, the majority of event attendees have a social media profile and information can be disseminated and received almost instantly! Consequently, individuals who are socially connected are usually more abreast on what is going on at their specific event(s), in the host city, and throughout the world –all at the touch of a button!

“Social media was a welcome addition during the staging of a federally-commissioned Bullying Prevention Summit I was tasked with coordinating in 2014. By using social media, we were able to engage remote attendees from around the world and extend the life of a hybrid event physically hosted in the nation’s capital.”

Meet at a Hollywood Landmark

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, first opened its doors in May of 1927. Since hosting the First Academy Awards in 1929, The Hollywood Roosevelt has become both a landmark attraction and a popular destination for locals and tourists from around the world. Situated in the heart of Hollywood, along the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame, the location is ideal for any group or meeting.

Guests can choose from a variety of accommodations ranging from poolside cabanas to tower rooms to our 3200 square foot Gable and Lombard Penthouse Suite including a rooftop deck with stunning views of the city and Hollywood Hills. A 2015 multi-million dollar tower rooms renovation, designed by Yabu Pushelberg,  evokes the epitome of Hollywood glamour as the old embraces the new.

The Blossom Ballroom has been restored back to its original magnificence, featuring custom chandeliers, original tile and ceiling architecture, its detail is reminiscent of its 1927 origins. Space options include common and uncommon event, dining and entertaining space. In all, the hotel has over 25,000 square feet of versatile event space accommodating 10 to 1500 people.

Hotel guests can enjoy amenities such as complimentary wifi, wooden floors, Davines toiletries, fully stocked mini bars, robes, 24-hour room service, a fitness center, a massage garden, lobby coffee/tea service, our famous David Hockney painted Tropicana Pool and seven food and beverage options.

Learn more about the Hollywood Roosevelt.

Learning Exploration at IMEX Frankfurt's Hosted Buyer Group listening attentively to the Columbia Tourism Office presentation’s Hosted Buyer Group listening attentively to the Columbia Tourism Office presentation

Soon-to-be supplier partner Columbia gave an in depth presentation on their exciting Latin American destination. The National Tourist Office was supported by 11 partners representing hotels, DMC’s, CVB’s and convention centers.

Maureen Pickell surrounded by her Hosted Buyer Group in standard “presentation formation.”!

Maureen Pickell surrounded by her Hosted Buyer Group in standard “presentation formation”!

Hosted Buyers included Maureen Wyse, The MBA Tour/Kristin Combes, Knect Events/Chris Morse, The Travel Center/Wendy Pangburn, Pangburn Partners/Terry Combes, Help You Get Organized Events/Michele Stephenson, CTMS Travel/Martha Benson, SAE International/Emily Rodrigues, ACBS.


The closing press conference had Ray Bloom, Chairman of IMEX giving us the rundown on this year’s event. For those judging success “by the numbers”, here are a few stats:

9,000 participants including buyers, visitors and exhibitors

62,000 individual and group appointments along with stand presentations took place

50% or more of appointments included a profile or RFP

3,900 plus hosted buyers attended

55 new stands with 20% of returning exhibitors increasing their space

Statistics are important, but I’m going to leave you with a quote from one of our Hosted Buyer Group attendees, summing up the importance of the entire week:

“Dear Maureen,

Just a quick note to thank you for inviting me to IMEX Frankfurt.  It was a great
experience, I met people that I can do business with and made some new friends.

Thanks again,

Chris Morse
Corporate Travel / The Travel Center USA”

Until next year!