Author Archives: Maureen Pickell

More from PCMA’s Convening Leaders

Attendees from 36 countries were able to choose from 138 experts, advocates, industry leaders and celebrities positioned to address the group. General session topics are thought to be somewhat predictable but not in the hands of PCMA programmers.

From marketing Guru, Seth Godin, instructing on how to blow up the status quo for memorable conferences to tennis legend Billie Jean King lobbing tennis balls into the audience as the finale to her interview, there were few moments when participants looked to their cell phones as a diversion!

Billie Jean ready to lob tennis balls to the audience

Wellness ruled with an early morning yoga class, “Namaste with PCMA” being a big hit.

Then, as advertised, education was key with an Innovate and Elevate Arena, Content Studios offering unique immersive experiences and Breakout Sessions covering topics ranging from Inclusion and DiversityLatest Trends in Design as well as Aromatherapy in Action.

A myriad of networking opportunities were available throughout the event as long as you were wearing comfortable shoes and had your phone fully charged, enabling you to set up rendez-vous points!

Session Key Take-Aways:

  • 1 face-to-face conversation equals 34 emails
  • Your body is your #1 fan – learn to listen to it
  • The “Meeting Professional” label has been upgraded to “Business Event Strategist”
  • Meet Face-to-Face – See Eye to Eye

Along with our own Jo Ann Hoffman and Sandra Reed of Meetings Alliance, I was pleased to encounter the following supplier partners in attendance:  Gerry Kingston of Delta Air Lines; Laura Saeger, Meet In Ireland; Kerrin MacPhie and Gavin Landry, Visit Britain and Kim Brussow, Visit Vail Valley.

There may have been more of our colleagues in the hall, but I was lucky to find these few among the 4,000 of our closest friends!

Hope to see them again (and you) at next year’s Convening Leaders in San Francisco!

PCMA 2019 – The Steel City

Your intrepid Blogger was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. but my recent trip to  “The Steel City” was not a sentimental journey but rather one to attend PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2019.

Held Jan. 6-9, this event retained its label as THE premier opportunity to “jump-start” the year professionally for the close to 4,000 attendees. The theme was “Disrupt + Deliver and this was the ideal branding for the “smart, creative program with a diverse array of perspectives” as described by CEO Sherrif Karamat.

Pittsburgh’s CVB team pulled out all the stops and showcased this uniquely situated city with its uber-friendly inhabitants as a dynamic meeting destination. The David L. Lawrence (Leed Certified) Convention Center played the leading role by providing flexible meeting space along with spectacular views of the rivers surrounding the downtown area.

“Stand” Outs by Supplier Partners at IMEX America

The Visit England stand had some great children’s book giveaways as it got lost in the world of literature. Their booth was anchored by a whimsical map of England depicting where in the country well known English authors lived and worked. Also pictured were the titles of the books authored by these literary greats…from Dracula to Sherlock Holmes.

The Bloomington CVB introduced their new high-tech humanoid robot Pepper to promote the Under One Roof meeting experience. This program packages together unique luxury meeting space in partnership with the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, Radisson Blu Mall of America and the Mall of America itself. Three Pepper robots on the premises are designed to enhance the guest experience through AI. Pepper can give directions to stores and restaurants, answer questions about the Mall, and even pose for selfies. BTW, Pepper demonstrated some cool dance moves!

The Long Beach CVB stand had the great idea to position a human flower arrangement to attract planners to their versatile destination. This lovely lady stood for hours covered with flora which prevented her from seeing all the attention she was receiving from attendees! (And I thought walking around the floor was challenging!)

Final note: This was also a landmark week for our industry outside of the records being set by IMEX.  An announcement was made by the Events Industry Council that globally, business events generate over $1 TRILLION in direct spending, matching the consumer electronics sector in size and placing it among the world’s leading business markets. So, as Ray Bloom so succinctly summed up, we ended the IMEX event on the high note of a” tremendous week for business, for the industry and for the future of meetings and events.”

So mark your calendar and see you next year for IMEX America #9 – to be held earlier in the month of September instead of the traditional October date!

IMEX America 2018 Was a Success!

The eighth annual IMEX America held Oct. 16-18 in Las Vegas set a series of new records. This blog is a bit late as the team is still reeling from working an exhibition that gave a record 13,000 thousand participants the opportunity to do business face-to-face.

3,500 exhibitors representing 150 countries along with 6,000 attendees saw the show expand into a third hall at the Sands Expo. Your intrepid blogger lost at least a half inch in height after 3 days of walking the aisles dodging 3,300 hosted buyers on a mission to get to their supplier appointments on time. As 70% of these meetings had RFP’s attached, you can be sure that the energy on the exhibitors side of the booth was just as prevalent!

Participating buyers had the opportunity to:

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

Interactive experiences along with the standard educational formats provided opportunities for the planners to combine activities such as:

  • Learning how to design your meetings for the quiet 50%
  • Enjoying  the thrills of the VR zip line
  • Sampling artisanal cheeses from Wisconsin and learning how to create the perfect pairing
  • Instruction on how to leave a positive legacy from your events on local communities
  • Participating in guided meditation in the Be Well Lounge

RFP’s ‘Valet’ at ASAE Annual

This year the ASAE Exposition trade show floor buzzed with extra energy both Sunday and Monday with association planners and exhibitors interacting face-to-face to build business relationships (Twitter definitely took a back seat)., already known as a class act,  had a very special booth upgrade this year to explain the popular (and free) RFP Valet service. RFP Valet helps meeting planners easily source their RFPs to the hotels and destinations of their choosing, and organizes the responses on a virtual chart.

Al Rickard, CAE

Our very own live Valet (Al Rickard, CAE, of Association Vision) was on hand to explain how it all works. Al was a “vision” himself in an elegant tuxedo, complete with the customary white towel on his arm. He may become a permanent fixture as David Markham had trouble keeping up with the demand for demos!

Jo Ann Hoffman, Regional Director of Sales, Maryland & Mara Hill Buckner, Regional Director of Sales, Chicago of

In attendance were also a few of the Account Managers. “Newbie” Jo Ann Hoffman, Regional Director of Sales, Maryland joined Mara Hill Buckner, Regional Director of Sales, Chicago in staffing the booth.

We also noticed supplier members Team San Jose, Tourism Memphis, Delta Air Lines and Visit Vail Valley busy educating planners on their destinations and services. AND, for the umpteenth year in a row, Visit Anchorage won another “Best in Show” Second place!

Look for the ASAE Annual to head over to Columbus next year…see you all there!!

ASAE Opening Reception features an Unusual Talent

On our industry calendar, “A” is for August and the ASAE Annual. No passport necessary this year as the event was held in the Windy City. So off went your intrepid blogger to report on the 2018 Conference & Exposition held Aug. 18-20 in Chicago.

ASAE’s opening nights are always epic, but the reception this year was a fabulous kick-off party at the Wintrust Arena.  Barbecue and country music shared the menu for a rousing good time as attendees networked with colleagues both inside the arena and outdoors (as the weather more than cooperated.) It truly was a “Chi-town Chow Down” enjoyed by all.

New! A sign of the times was the upgraded security to enter the hall as well as the advance warning to make sure ladies handbags were regulated to a specific “clutch purse” size. This proved to be a bit of a challenge as clutch purses were designed well before the arrival of the oversized smart phones!

McCormick Place hosted the annual meeting and exposition and the opening general session set the tone for this year’s theme, “Get Focused.”

John Graham reiterated ASAE’s focus on standing firmly against legislation resulting in any type of discrimination.” We will fight for the right of all people to come to our meetings, participate in our programs and serve our organizations.” He was enthusiastically applauded by the 3,554 Executives, 2,120 Exhibitors and 418 staff, press and guests who attended THIS meeting!

PCMA 2018 Continued

The theme of this year’s conference was “Amplifying Engagement” and outgoing PCMA President and CEO, Deborah Sexton made sure that all participants were positioned to learn how to “electrify their experiences, elevate their conference’s brand and truly engage with their audience.” Interspersed throughout the Center’s standard meeting rooms were a Media Studio Stage housing the Video Capture Lounge, a Future of FACE2FACE area featuring a TECHBAR, (RE)ALITY ALLEY and The Mix – a 65-foot-by-18-foot video wall where delegates could tune into a session, get live breaking news or access prepared content. Add to this already heady combination of engagement opportunities the Braindates knowledge transfer opportunities as well as the Networking Luncheons and you have a potpourri of audio and visual stimulation that will no doubt become the standard for future conferences!

I was pleased to encounter the following supplier partners in attendance:  Angeline van den Broecke from the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre; Gerry Kingston of Delta Air Lines; Marie McKowan, Meet In Ireland; Andrea Schmidt, Visit Anchorage and Sandra Reed, Meetings Alliance. Also seen were Advisory Council members Leslie Zeck and David Williams. There may have been more of our colleagues in the hall, but I was lucky to find these few among the 4,500 of our closest friends! Hope to see them again (and you) at next year’s Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh!

PCMA 2018

Greetings from your intrepid blogger reporting on the recent PCMA Convening Leaders Conference held in Nashville, TN Jan. 7-10.

Known throughout the industry as THE premier opportunity to “jump-start” the year professionally, the 2018 version did not disappoint. Music City welcomed approximately 4,500 delegates with a strategically planned program that combined efficiency with southern hospitality.

Some of my favorite features were conference registration at baggage claim, complimentary souvenirs of hometown delicacies such as Goo Goo clusters (taste like they sound!) and Belle Meade Bourbon, bus transfers to the various hotels from the airport, hand lotion and mouth wash available in the Music City Center ladies rooms and frequent seating therein to break up the miles between meeting areas.

Just to give you an idea of the importance of this last attribute, the high-performance convention center is located on a 16-acre site! And, the grand ballroom for the general sessions was cavernous enough to provide for the world’s largest “air guitar” outlined in red lighting and anchored to the ceiling.

Anniversary Celebration at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

The Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is celebrating their ninth anniversary this year with some exciting upgrades to the property and a special offer.

The resort boasts new new poolside cabanas with individual misting systems, expanded entertainment around new fire pits in both Cortijo Plaza and Kasbah Patio, renovations to Joya Salon, and newly towel-covered chaise lounges on the Joya Pool Deck.

The resort grounds have also been enhanced with the planting of additional citrus trees, and the majesty and grandeur of iconic Camelback Mountain has never been more apparent with expansive new sightlines from guest rooms and public spaces.

Plan a stay at the Omni Scottsdale with their new  Rise, Dine & Unwind offer, which includes 15% off their best flexible rate plus an additional 15% off of spa services and dining.

The holidays represent a special time of year filled with joy, excitement and a multitude of festive events. Plus, guests have the opportunity to give back with Omni’s “Say Goodnight to Hunger” program, ensuring proceeds from every direct booking on provide dinner for a family in our community.

IMEX America Stats and Show Floor

IMEX America is consistent in its attempts to reduce their environmental footprint resulting from hosting 12,000 attendees, 3,250 exhibitors and occupying 19,575 room nights in local hotels.

This was actioned by initiatives that ranged from encouraging attendees to donate books to a local literacy program to helping to build hygiene kits for the Clean the World project.

Recyclable carpet was used in the aisles and some of the booths and only an abbreviated version of the show catalogue made it into print.  Ray Bloom, IMEX Group Chairman is one of the best at having his organization lead by example!

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

  • Martina Fundaro  – The Prague Convention Bureau
  • Marie McKown – Meet in Ireland
  • Angeline van den Broecke and Alan Pryor – Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
  • Julie Dodds and Jim Henderson – Visit Anchorage
  • Laura St. Germain – United Airlines

Malaysia’s Colorful Booth

Ireland’s Booth featured an authentic looking sheep!

Dan O’Neil, vice president strategy and sales for the Bloomington CVB, headed up a press conference announcing a new “Under One Roof” meeting experience. This program packages together unique luxury meeting space in partnership with the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, Radisson Blu Mall of America and the Mall of America itself.

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

  • 12,000+ exhibitors, hosted buyers and attendees
  • 70,000 individual and group appointments along with stand presentations took place
  • 72% of appointments were based on RFP’s
  • 250 educational sessions took place covering 10 tracks
  • 450 exhibitors and buyers participated in the IMEXrun Las Vegas routed along the famous Strip

Congratulations to the IMEX Team for a great show. ConventionPlanit loved participating!