ASAE’s Opening Night Celebration

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“Singin’ in the Rain” – a.k.a the Opening Night Celebration.

A major rainstorm erupted at the beginning of the reception driving the group inside the Music City Center and putting a damper on the outdoor block party scheduled for the evening. The good news was that they were able to move the Bars inside as well.

Bad news was you had to wait until the rain subsided around 9:30pm to enjoy the phenomenal food still parked outside. And, after drying off the stage, everyone enjoyed country music star Dierks Bentley sing from his 11 Grammy nominated repertoire of hits.

The “Welcome to Splashville” evening was salvaged by the city’s ability to turn adversity into a memorable event. And isn’t that our entire industry’s stock in trade??

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A is for ASAE

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“A” is for August and ASAE. Your intrepid blogger set out for Music City a.k.a. Nashville to attend the Aug. 9-12, 2014 Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The location for the event was the Music City Center, built to be large enough to accommodate 75% of the nation’s convention and visitor market. This state of the art venue features 1,800 parking spaces, 22 elevators and escalators, 1,100 doors, 845 solar panels and 13,500 light fixtures. In other words, well equipped to handle the record-breaking 6,000 attendees in attendance.

As usual, there was a variety of innovative learning formats available: Ignite Sessions, Game Changer Sessions, Learning Labs, Master Mind Sessions and Flash Learning opportunities.

The Expo Hall provided a wide variety of suppliers with interesting booths. Travel Portland showcased an old fashioned ice-cream cart filled with (you guessed it) ice cream for the masses. Business Events Canada toted along the Molson Canadian Beer Fridge, and Reno Tahoe USA brought David Wise, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics halfpipe skiing gold medalist to the hall for photo ops.

CP Member Visit Anchorage won 2nd Place for Best Booth!

CP Member Memphis CVB won 2nd Place for Best Booth!

Plus, ASAE executives could also shop for meeting destinations, facilities and service providers! I was joined by ConventionPlanit.com team members, Katherine and David Markham and Carolyn Pemberton in the CP.com booth to highlight  our unique RFP Organization tool to the planners.

The ConventionPlanit Team at ASAE: Carolyn Pemberton; Maureen Pickell, CTC; David Markham; Katherine Markham, CHME

The ConventionPlanit Team at ASAE: Carolyn Pemberton; Maureen Pickell, CTC; David Markham; Katherine Markham, CHME

New Contest Announced

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Calling all meeting professionals:

Do you use ConventionPlanit.com? Do you have industry colleagues or peers who could benefit from using these services?

If so, you can refer your colleagues and enter to win a trip for yourself at the same time!

Enter the Refer a Meeting Professional Contest for a chance to win a trip for two to the all new Tropicana Las Vegas, located on the strip!

Package Includes:

-Three nights in a Club Deluxe Room
-Round trip air for two
-Dinner at Bacio Italian Cuisine
-Tickets to The Mama Mia! Musical

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IMEX America Hosted Buyer Opportunity

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IMEX AmericaEveryone knows that IMEX America is the biggest meetings industry event in Las Vegas this year, but did you know that you can attend for free?

If you are responsible for placing two or more international meetings annually (away from the US, Canada and the Caribbean), join ConventionPlanit.com at IMEX America 2014 via the Hosted Buyer Program!

IMEX America returns to the Sands Expo in Las Vegas October 14-16, 2014. Don’t miss your chance to be part of our Hosted Buyer Program and join this group of valued meetings organizers as a guest of IMEX. At IMEX America you’ll meet suppliers from across the United States and around the world under one roof. Along with conducting business with them, you will be able to benefit from tailored education and peer-to-peer networking.

What is included?

  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Accommodation at one of our partner hotels
  • Transfers within Las Vegas between Las Vegas McCarran Airport, the Sands Expo and hotels
  • Access to the Hosted Buyer Lounge with phone charging stations, free luggage storage and complimentary WiFi
  • Dedicated Hosted Buyer team to support you and your clients

Bonus – our Hosted Buyer group is led by me and my colleague (and fellow blogger) Maureen Pickell. We’re a pretty fun duo!

For more information or to register, please comment below and we will be in touch!

VIP (Very Important Planner) Golf Outing

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Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM,CSEP (and ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council Member) was at it again, last Friday, this time with a VIP (Very Important Planner) Golf Outing at the Reston National Golf Course that raised money for a good cause and connected the meetings industry together in a unique way.

This golf event was different from other tournaments in that there were no scores, no pressure—just fun, food, drinks, and camaraderie! The event was free for planner golfers to participate and included unlimited beverage cart drinks, BBQ lunch, a round of golf, and rental clubs.

Each sponsored hole featured prizes, gifts, or other fun activities for the teams. There were also raffle tickets for amazing prizes: Bulova Watches, Maui Jim prize package, and a 2 night vacation to the following destinations: Rancho Bernardo Inn, Tropicana Las Vegas, Atlantis Resort, and PGA National Resort.

Most importantly, all proceeds from this event will go directly to the AJ Janosko Education Trust. For more information on this fund and the wonderful family, please click here. $7,5000 was raised for the trust.

ConventionPlanit.com co-founders Katherine & David Markham were on hand with a fun game for the meeting planners to compete in called Colossal Golf in which a putter was used to compete for a hole in one. The winning planner Thank you Video for her organization, The ASAE Foundation.

Prizes were also awarded in each of the following categories:

Most Matching Team
Best Dressed Male/Female (two winners)
Best Team Name
Best Sponsor Hole

Here are some photos of the golfers. Let us know if you’re featured!

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Best Matching Team Winners

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Colossal Golf Winner!

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Nancy Crum, CMP, seated on the ball, won for best individual outfit

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Luxury On Sale

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ALHI Private Sale

Who isn’t a fan of ALHI’s luxury hotels?

ALHI’s Private Sale provides one complimentary room for every 30 rooms actualized in 2014 for programs booked at select ALHI hotels and resorts.

Call 866-303-ALHI (2544) for more information and a list of participating ALHI members or click here for more information.

Offer valid for new programs only booked and actualized between June 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014.  Minimum 30 rooms on PEAK, minimum three-night stay.  Based on availability.  Not valid with any other offers.

The Meeting Planner Inside Scoop: The Return of Face to Face Meetings

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meeting planner inside scoopWe recently sat down with seasoned meeting planner David Williams, Executive Director for the International Association for Energy Economics and CP.com Advisory Board member.

We got the meeting planner inside scoop on his perspective on the meetings industry’s past year and what 2014 may bring.

As with most industries, 2013 was a little slower than expected, but Williams was pleased that the Energy Economics Industry, which is a recession resistant industry, saw good turnout at conferences and a strong membership. “Overall, however, the meetings industry is lagging the general economy. We have slower growth, but slow growth is better than no growth,” says Williams.

In fact, with a rising membership, the IAEE has had its largest conferences ever, and has been able to draw attendees to the conferences by being able to host them in first tier destinations such as New York and San Francisco. He says, “We are now quite good at running meetings efficiently so it is easier to maximize savings and revenues and still get into the top tier locations that attracts more attendees.”

One challenge Williams sees in the meetings industry is sponsorship. “Sponsorship is a shrinking commodity,” he says. “We are going to wrestle with this for a while. With consolidation happening in so many industries, the pieces [of sponsorship] are getting smaller. It’s getting harder to sell and show value to companies for their sponsorship. And as all industries cut all portions of their budgets, sponsorship money gets cut as well.” Williams feels this will continue throughout 2014. In fact, most conferences now hold sessions on how to raise additional sponsorship money. Williams says that these sessions are always packed.

Williams sees several trends for 2014. Of course, eco-friendliness is always trendy, and he sees more and more strides being made. He says, “Good strides are being made to move away from paper. Many meetings, ours included, are no longer putting together registration bags. We are just giving out a name badge and a program. Those packs are being replaced with brochures on tables so fewer are needed and fewer are thrown away.” Technology is still a huge trend. “Technology will make or break us,” says Williams. “It will always be present. Meetings needs tweets and apps, it’s just the way it is now.”

One trend Williams sees happening and would love to hear findings from other planners, is the decline in webinar participation. He has a feeling that this form of meeting may be over, as more people want to get to back to face-to-face meetings. “I get the impression that folks find that participants are not really engaged and aren’t dialing in to webinars anymore.”

When asked about what advice he has for those entering the meeting planning industry, Williams said, “Learn how to negotiate. Learn and refine those skills. They are critical to your job. And remember that it never hurts to ask. You just have to keep at it. Ask for a little more each time. You don’t learn the whole industry overnight, you just keep asking, and learning, and learning from your mistakes.”

 

Capital Region Meeting Planners Go Loco for HoCo

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Known affectionately as HoCo, Howard County was the backdrop of a recent FAM tour put on by the Howard County Office of Tourism and Promotion on May 15-17. The event gave 30 meeting planners the chance to experience everything the centrally located county has to offer. 

An ideal location due to its proximity to Baltimore and Washington D.C., HoCo had no shortage of other amenities to offer these planners.

FAM group shot smallThe FAM kicked off at Turf Valley’s annual Preakness Balloon Celebration on Thursday, May 15. After tours of the property, planners were whisked off to a VIP reception for food, drinks and a chance to meet and mingle with their fellow FAM participants. Afterwards planners headed back to their rooms at Turf Valley, Holiday Inn Columbia-East Jessup and the Sheraton Columbia Town Center.

Friday started at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center with a small tradeshow of 17 area hotels, restaurants, event spaces and service providers. The group enjoyed breakfast while touring the booths and learning more about Howard County. After breakfast, everyone grabbed a seat to hear several presentations about the current plans for development in downtown Columbia and historic Ellicott City.

After a short break, the group sat down again for an engaging keynote from Billy Kirsch, an award winning song writer who uses his expertise to help folks rediscover their creative side. There was a lot of great audience participation and by the end of Billy’s hour long presentation, the group had written the first verse to a song all about Howard County, MD and their experience so far! It was a very memorable session for those in attendance and the lyrics are included below.

Loco for Hoco
Other places are so-so
Come visit us anytime
A jewel between two cities
WOWard County is so pretty
Having a FAMulous time
Loco for Hoco
Where we’re happy as a dog drinking wine

The gravity-defying swing at Terrapin Adventures

The gravity-defying swing at Terrapin Adventures

From the Sheraton the group headed to Historic Savage Mill and Terrapin Adventures where Howard County continued to make an impression. Terrapin Adventures treated all willing participants to some fun team building exercises and rides on their giant swing and zip line. After swinging through the trees, the meeting planners enjoyed a tour of Savage Mill, cupcakes from The Factory Grill and a seasonal cocktail out on the patio at Ram’s Head Tavern. On Friday night, the group headed to Maryland LIVE! Casino for dinner at the buffet, entertainment and fun.

Saturday started in historic Ellicott City where the group took guided tours of the B&O Railroad Museum and the charming mill town itself. Then after some time for shopping and exploring on their own, headed to one of Columbia’s newer restaurants, Petit Louis on the Lake, for lunch. The restaurant treated the group to a delicious meal, complete with wine and macarons.

Barbara Kellner of the Columbia Association gave a brief but informative talk on Columbia’s founder Jim Rouse and explained how his ideals for the city are still very present in the community today. Wine was on the agenda for the afternoon too. After lunch the group ventured to Maryland’s largest wine festival, Wine in the Woods.

Saturday evening started at the Holiday Inn Columbia-East Jessup. Property tours led to a jazz reception and the hotel bar created a special cocktail for the event, the Loco for Hoco. The fizzy drink was concocted in honor of the song created the day before.

Planners at the Holiday Inn

Planners at the Holiday Inn

From the Holiday Inn, the group ventured to Robinson Nature Center. After a walkthrough everyone enjoyed a review performance by the Young Columbians, dinner courtesy of The Shanty Grille and some libations from Heavy Seas Brewing Company and Linganore Wine Cellars. The evening and weekend were capped off with a unique and interactive drum circle experience with the Fun Drum Company.

Planners at the Robinson Nature Center

Planners at the Robinson Nature Center

This was Howard County Tourism’s first meeting planner FAM tour, something that Director of Sales, Taffy Rice had been working on since she joined the office back in 2011. If any of these experiences or venues are of interest to you or a group you’re working with, please feel free to contact Taffy at 410-294-8302 or taffy@visithowardcounty.com.

1st Annual ASAE Foundation Bike Ride

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Mark your calendars for the 1st Annual ASAE Foundation Bike Ride!

Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Berryville, Virginia

We’re supporting our friends at the ASAE Foundation and participating in their 1st Annual Bike Ride this fall. It’s an opportunity to do good for yourself and the association profession by riding 25, 30, 50, 65, or 100 miles in the “Back Roads Century” cycling event! (Don’t worry if you are not an avid cycler. For most people, cycling 25 miles is similar to running a 5K).

The event is sponsored by Potomac Pedalers, a Washington, DC-area cycling club. Organizations and individuals will ride in the event to raise money for the ASAE Foundation. Individuals must raise $100 each and organizations must raise $500. Organization teams can include up to four riders.

Want to sign up or learn more? Email foundationevents@asaecenter.org!

Anchorage Visits Washington, DC

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Yesterday, ConventionPlanit.com Co-Founder Katherine Markham, CHME attended a luncheon sponsored by Visit Anchorage in Washington, DC.

Our friends at Anchorage, always the most gracious of hosts, put on a wonderful presentation showcasing all of the exciting activities available to meeting planners who are lucky enough to hold a meeting there.

ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council Member Lesley Zeck with Visit Anchorage's Julie Dodds and CP Co-Founder Katherine Markham

ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council Member Lesley Zeck with Visit Anchorage’s Julie Dodds and CP Co-Founder Katherine Markham

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