Meeting Planning Lessons from The Book of Mormon

What meeting planning lessons can we glean from the popular Tony-award-winning Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon?

Plenty, as it turns out.

At a learning lab at the ASAE 2016 Annual Meeting entitled, “What the Musical The Book of Mormon Taught Me About Association Management,“ seven association professionals used The Book of Mormon as a metaphor to offer association management lessons about leadership, membership recruitment, branding, social media, humor, diversity, and yes, meeting planning.

The session was created and moderated by Sheri Singer, president of Singer Communications, and drew about 500 attendees.

Tom Quash, CAE, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Publications at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), encouraged session attendees to script an inspirational story at their conferences, much as the one of the lead characters in The Book of Mormon did as he worked to convert skeptical villagers in Uganda to the Mormon faith.

“At AWHONN, we celebrate the daily work of our nurses and underscore Connection — a core belief that we know our members value,” Quash explained. “We weave the connection messaging into social media, marketing, and speeches throughout the convention. You know the old adage about the elevator pitch: you must simply state your story and build your script around it.”

Cast of Characters

Next, consider your cast of characters.

“Who is responsible for telling your story at your convention?,” Quash asked. “The CEO? The Chair? Both? You can also have dual roles but they should be positioned purposefully and intentionally.”

He cautioned executives to not try to make a storyteller funny if that doesn’t mesh with their mission or style, and instead leverage the talents of each individual to create a great cast.

“Who can speak with authority when necessary?” he asked. “Who can add levity? Which speakers will best support the story? Does your cast represent a fair balance of your membership or constituents? How many industry partners should be represented? Have you considered diversity, in all its forms?”

Quash noted that at the end of a great play, it’s the cast that receives the hearty applause and the standing ovations.

“For example, think about your general session,” Quash suggested. “When that is over, you want your attendees to be touched or re-energized by what they have heard.”

Creating the Stage

“Does the décor on your main stage reflect your brand and your story?,” Quash asked. “Don’t overlook the opportunity to leverage staging, music and lighting to help create a theatrical experience. If you can, consider using what Broadway plays use all the time the ‘Wow’ factor. Think about the chandelier crashing in Phantom of the Opera–that’s a wow factor.

“You may not have a Broadway budget, but you can still make it theatrical. One year, we had a rock-and-roll pit band during the General Session instead of piped-in music. Another year, our Board Chair took the stage from the audience, rather than backstage, followed by dozens of student members to tell that year’s story of our commitment to the next generation,” Quash explained.

According to Quash, like it or not, your association is competing for attention with free and open access to online content, web-based communities, apps, streaming, Netflix, and even Pokemon Go.

“Your story and your stage cannot come across as stale or disconnected with the expectations or even demands of your members,” Quash said. “Your venue, the city, your networking events, your tradeshow, and more are all ‘stages’ for you to support the experience.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Quash is an advocate of dress rehearsals to make sure “the show” flows without a hitch.

“Rehearsals help determine if the timing is right,” he explained. “Are all the cues in place? Where will your VIPs sit? Are your presenters comfortable with their delivery?”

Quash says it’s also important to consider “what if?” scenarios and have a plan to act accordingly.

“What if a speaker doesn’t show up? What’s the plan to communicate this? What if the fire marshal is onsite and shuts down a room due to overcrowding? What if there’s a weather event that threatens the safety of your attendees?” he asked.

While Quash notes that you can’t plan for every conceivable scenario, you can be prepared for at least some unexpected developments.

Selling Your Show

You can’t start too early when it comes to selling your next conference, Quash declared.

“The selling starts at least a year in advance, at your current convention,” he believes. “While attendees are in the midst of a great experience, you want them to get excited for the following year. Talk up next year, as ASAE routinely does.”

Quash says at AWHONN they test story messages to determine what is resonating with their key audiences. They also explore new marketing platforms.

“Direct mail, email and advertising may be effective, but have you leveraged content marketing?” Quash queries. “Do you have a digital marketing strategy? Can you use your chapter or sections to act as champions? Are there bloggers that can help support the conference promotion? Don’t underestimate their reach and impact.”

Be sure that you provide your members, leaders and other stakeholders with the right tools to help you sell the show, Quash suggested.

“With a compelling story, great cast, inviting staging, detailed rehearsals and smart selling, you’ll create your very ownBook of Mormon – a theatrical, memorable experience for your members,” said Quash.

Al Rickard, CAE, is President of Association Vision, a Washington, DC-area communications company, and serves as Director of Communications for ConventionPlanit.com.

SPINCon – An Educational and Entertaining Conference

Leave it to SPIN (Senior Planner Industry Network) to design a conference that both educates and entertains its members!

From the entirely novel concept of a “Sponsor Selfie Trade Show” to Beach Blanket Bingo as an after reception activity, SPINCon 2016, held Nov.13-15 in Fort Lauderdale, had  its attendees actively engaged.

ConventionPlanit.com is proud to be a Strategic Partner of this innovative organization, and  thus we found Maureen Pickell and Sandra Reed of CP.com rounding out the exclusive group of suppliers participating in the event.

Not surprising was the large number of CP.com members including the Newport Beach, Anchorage, Bellevue, Little Rock, Branson, Providence Warwick, Grand Rapids and Wisconsin Dells CVB’s who support the organization.

Maureen Pickell, CTC, receiving the royal treatment at SPINCon

Maureen Pickell, CTC, receiving the royal treatment at SPINCon

And SPIN really treats their sponsors like royalty as you can see by the tiara worn by Maureen as she helps to organize the Networking CSR Activity!

Education partnered with wellness to play key roles in the program.

Tracts were designated by Brain, Body, Being and Business Sessions with topics ranging from” Surviving Life” and “Entrepreneur Forum” to “RFP is Not a Dirty Word” and “No Diet Equals Freedom!.”

Breaks offered Cucumber and Carrots Edamame Humus Shooters and meeting rooms provided roomy couches as well as high top tables for comfortable learning.

Ft. Lauderdale (Meet Sunny) CVB and the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa did a great job of welcoming those from northern climes with a spectacular sunrise Monday morning serving as the backdrop for an Oceanside breakfast.

Attendees enjoy an ocean side breakfast

Attendees enjoy an ocean side breakfast

200 attendees were greeted by the SPIN logo highlighted in the sand and waves lapping on the beach as they started the day.

The SPIN Logo in the sand

The SPIN Logo made its mark on Fort Lauderdale!

As a first timer to this conference, your intrepid blogger is anxious to repeat the experience and looks forward to SPINCon 2017!!

Hospitality Industry Career Opportunities

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work for your favorite search directory, now is your chance! conventionplanit job openings

ConventionPlanit.com has openings for the following positions:

Regional Director of Sales

    Sell online marketing solutions to hotels, resorts, CVBs, and other service providers. Position entails phone sales for website listings, advertising and e-marketing features. Additional training will be provided. A minimum of five years of sales experience as well as basic computer skills are required. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to

info@conventionplanit.com.

Marketing Manager

    Working from home as an independent contractor, the Marketing Manager arranges sales appointments with designated hospitality suppliers, i.e., hotel sales directors, VP of management companies, CVB marketing directors, for assigned ConventionPlanit.com sales directors to demo and close the sale. This individual may flexibly set their own hours and focus on the best time to reach their clients, given the various time zones. Clients are retrieved from our CMS database as well as specific lists in which special pricing was coordinated. Additional training will be provided. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to

info@conventionplanit.com

    .

Super Bowl-Caliber Meetings

visit jacksonvilleEven when the Jaguars aren’t playing football, you can still have a ball with colleagues and clients at EverBank Field by holding a Super Bowl-caliber meeting or event at the stadium.

Because at EverBank Field, you can pretty much rent everything from the players’ locker room to the entire playing field for gatherings small and intimate or large and grand.

Speaking of grand, did you know that EverBank Field is home to the world’s largest scoreboard? That’s right, the ginormous video board sits high above brand new cabanas and swimming pools as part of a $63 million renovation, and is 60 feet high, 362 feet long, and contains 35.5 million LED bulbs. Now imagine giving a presentation or pitching your clients using that puppy.

Game over.

You can even arrange for appearances by Jaxson de Ville, the Jaguars’ mascot, and the ROAR, the Jaguars’ cheerleaders. Plus, you can sample catered food prepared by Levy Restaurants. So when the Jags aren’t putting in work on the field, the turf is all yours—all 160,000 square feet of it. Endzone to endzone, here’s a breakdown of what EverBank Field has to offer local businesses on the field and off.

Learn more about Visit Jacksonville.

Five Reasons to Use RFP Organization

rfp organizationCollecting RFP responses can be a hassle, but it does not have to be.

Here are five reasons you should give ConventionPlanit.com’s RFP Organization a try:

1. RFP responses are organized on a comparison chart for you
2. Receive quotes fast and by your deadline
3. No training or RFP templates – submit your RFP in your own format
4. Receive personalized consultation & expertise
5. Complimentary service and commitment free

To start using RFP Organization, email your RFP to info@conventionplanit.com.

Sun, Surf & Success in South Beach

surfcomber

Miami’s South Beach is a world-famous tropical playground of sun and fun. As a Kimpton hotel directly on the beach, Surfcomber plays right into that reputation. We also know how to channel it properly into a productive, memorable meeting for your group.

Witness our 50,000 square feet of beautiful outdoor event space. Brainstorm in a cabana overlooking the pool and the sea. Host a meet-and-greet around our shimmering pool, surrounded by towering palm trees. Between the pool and the beach is our private sandy oasis — no other South Beach hotel has anything quite like it. There we can host team-building games like bocci ball and volleyball, or a lovely dinner with string lights above.

Inside, we offer 3,120 square feet of air-conditioned meeting rooms awash with natural light, some with ocean views. After hours, your group can mingle with the locals at The Social Club, featuring creative American fare. Or drift outside to High Tide bar and grill. Located in the colorful Art Deco district, Surfcomber is also walking and biking distance (attendees have complimentary use of bikes while they’re here) from shopping, dining, galleries and nightlife.

Learn more about the Surfcomber.

IMEX America Stats

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Ray Bloom talked about breaking records for the fifth year in a row! Here are a few stats:

14,250 participants including buyers, visitors and exhibitors

70,000 individual and group appointments along with stand presentations took place

69% or more of appointments included a profile or RFP

269 educational sessions

800 exhibitors and buyers participated in the IMEXrun Las Vegas routed along the famous Strip

As always, all attendees fortunate enough to attend IMEX America were exposed to high levels of business and networking.

Along with the record number of appointments and packed-out education events, some of the novel ideas to encourage mingling in the various stands included toe-tapping to an Irish fiddler, an oxygen station to boost energy levels (VERY popular), a chance to “monkey around” with a really cute orangutan and a sugar jolt provided by the winner of the “best ice cream in the world contest”.

Leave it to IMEX America to always deliver professionalism with a light touch!

IMEX America Hustling and Bustling

IMEX America is consistent in its attempts to reduce their environmental footprint resulting from hosting 11,000 attendees, 3,250 exhibitors and occupying 14,000 room nights in participating hotels.

This was actioned by initiatives that ranged from encouraging attendees (prior to the show) to pack a reusable travel cup for coffee/tea to sponsoring a group of “Garbage Grabbers” (not a lyrical title but states the obvious) to clean up a local park.  Ray Bloom, IMEX Group Chairman is one of the best at having his organization lead by example!

Liz Duxbury of the CP.com Hosted Buyer Group is waylaid in the aisle by a representative of Indonesia. At this event, the world truly comes to you!

Liz Duxbury of the CP.com Hosted Buyer Group is waylaid in the aisle by a representative of Indonesia. At this event, the world truly comes to you!

Representatives from CP.com supplier partners had a good showing in the hall. Among them were:

Roman Muska – The Prague Convention Bureau

Marie McKown – Meet in Ireland

Anette Palm and Alice Lem – Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre

Julie Dodds & Jim Henderson – Visit Anchorage

Susan Hennig – United Airlines

Sarah Calhoon – World Marketing Group

IMEX America Sets New Records

The 3rd Presidential Debate held in Las Vegas last week took a back seat as IMEX America set new records all around the show!

CP.com Hosted Buyer Group and escort, Maureen Pickell, ready to learn about Malaysia!

CP.com Hosted Buyer Group and escort, Maureen Pickell, ready to learn about Malaysia!

Your intrepid blogger is happy to bring you the “show buzz” for this annual extravaganza’s sixth edition.  The “largest ever IMEX America” boasted more than 3,250 exhibitors representing 139 countries interacting with 3,000 buyers who participated in 60,000 individual appointments.

And, once again ConventionPlanit.com sponsored a group of Hosted Buyers to participate in the shows’ innovative agenda enabling them to:

  • Conduct up to a year’s worth of global business in only 2-3 days… without needing a passport
  • Learn from the best minds in the business during the Education sessions
  • Enjoy both professional and personal networking

Our corporate and association planners also participated in Group Appointments with CP.com supplier partners from the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.