IMEX Frankfurt 2015 – The Olympic Games


As usual, mid-May finds your intrepid blogger arriving in Frankfurt, Germany for the IMEX 2015 show aka the “Olympic Games of the Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition Industry.”

The group of Hosted Buyers were geared up to take on a show floor comprised of 3,500 exhibiting companies representing over 150 countries. To say that the week was positioned for everyone to seize vast opportunities to learn, to meet and to do business is quite the understatement!

The Media Conferences held during IMEX week are a good way to keep up with the new developments being launched by our supplier partners. Here are a few:

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre has initiated a Professional Development Grant aimed at growing the next generation of local meetings industry leaders in Malaysia. The KLCC is also celebrating 10 enriching years of “Focusing on Perfection, Always!”

ACC Liverpool unveiled their Plus Liverpool initiative which provides support for clients looking to bring their global events to the city and ACC Liverpool. By packaging this partnership approach to working with organizers, they ensure that all events are as seamless as possible.

Heike Mahmood, Director of Conventions for the Berlin Convention Bureau chats with a new client.

Heike Mahmood, Director of Conventions for the Berlin Convention Bureau chats with a new client.

Visit Berlin announces their city as now the 4th most popular convention destination in the world!


Friday Webinar Series – Improve Productivity with RFP Organization

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!

Networking Experiences Multiplied

Networking is always a key element of a successful meeting, and increasingly meeting professionals are looking to exciting offsite locations for these events. These can include a wide variety of venues, many of which can provide unique experiences for attendees.“I’ve always been a big believer in giving people a great experience and good food to help them connect and engage at conference networking events. When you give people a fun location and/or an engagement opportunity outside of the convention center/conference location, then you find that organic relationships are built, says Carrie Abernathy, Director of Education and Events at Practice Greenhealth.Consider some of the adventurous and exciting offsite venues highlighted on

L.A. Live
Looking for the ultimate entertainment destination, maybe with a bit of star-sighting? That would make a great networking activity. L.A. Live in Los Angeles is a genuine world-class sports and entertainment destination. Located in the center of the entertainment capital of the world, the 5.6 million square foot L.A. Live mixed-used development on 27 acres is the primary “content campus” and event center for Southern California.

Some of the many venues include the Conga Room – the premier Latin and world music venue in Los Angeles – which features live performances from the hottest Latin music acts along with authentic Latin cuisine, cocktails and dancing. The GRAMMY Museum® is an interactive celebration of the power of music with four floors of cutting edge exhibits, experiences and films. The Nokia Theater is home to the EMMYs, ESPYs, American Music Awards and American Idol Finals.

Universal Studios
Universal Studios Hollywood has activities that can get everyone talking. Popular venues include their show pavilions such as the Globe Theater, Animal Actors Pavilion, and the Special Effects Stage.

Up Close With the Monuments
On the East Coast? Check out the The American Pharmacists Association’s headquarters, known as the American Institute of Pharmacy on the National Mall. Located on Constitution Avenue, the event spaces include two connected buildings with ground-level indoor and outdoor areas and a spacious rooftop deck.

The original building was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope, whose work includes the National Archives and the Jefferson Memorial. The expanded building, completed in 2009, is LEED certified, boasts a rooftop terrace with unparalleled views of the National Mall and beyond. The rooftop is seasonally tented and available for corporate and private events March to November.

On the Track
Some friendly competition is a good way to break the ice and make connections. Pole Position Raceway in Jersey City, New Jersey, is a state-of-the-art indoor karting center. They work closely with planners to ensure a customized, memorable networking experience.

Back to Nature
More into nature? Cibolo Creek in Marfa, Texas is a 30,000 acre ranch that offers ATV rides, horseback riding to view Native American rock art and its own ghost town. Rafting trips through the canons of Big Bend National Park are also a great way to get adventuresome networkers to do some bonding.

Check Out the Ranch
The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, Colorado hosts automotive shows, animal and livestock events, and concerts. Getting away from the normal stress and hectic schedule of meetings to go kick up some dust will definitely let attendees relax and connect.

Social Media Helps Drive Successful Meetings

Interactive social media use has become a must for conferences and meetings. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat can be used in every stage of a meeting. They can be used to enhance content, encourage people to register, and build a sense of community.

Even before the conference starts, social media can be used to gather information from attendees on what types of content they want, as well as speaker suggestions and other programming selections. An easy way to do this would be to utilize something like Crowd Campaign, which gives participants a way to suggest content, and for others to vote on it. Or, you could go even simpler and use Tweetpoll or PollDaddy.

As the meeting draws closer, social media can be used to encourage registration. This can be done by enticing potential attendees with snippets of content to peak their curiosity. Get your speakers to produce teaser content. An easy way to do this is to set up a blog on Tumblr (for free, in about 10 minutes) and have your speakers call the toll-free number and leave a voicemail. It will be automatically transcribed, and posted to the official event blog. They can also post on Facebook. Contests on Twitter or Facebook can offer free registration for those who follow. Those who don’t win might be intrigued enough from following to register.

Lauren Precker, Social Communications and Strategy Manager at ASAE, says that you have to be careful about focusing too much on the pre-conference register message. Precker says, “It can be a mistake to focus on the ‘Register’ messaging. You should obviously have calls to register, but that should not be the bulk of your messaging. If you keep pushing out a one-way conversation of ‘Register, Register, Register’ in every post, your audience will begin to tune you out. Focus on the content and value that your event will provide. Highlight learning and networking opportunities, and if you are going to a new city, share some highlights about what attendees can see/do after the event is done for the day.

“Social media is enhancing the conference experience because it allows us on the organizational side to not only push out up-to-the-minute conference details onsite, but it also creates one-on-one connections with attendees that can’t be done through other communication methods such as mailers and email.”

The number one principle you need to follow when using social media, according to Deborah Shepard, Sales and Marketing Consultant, destinationExcellence and Regional Director of Sales, is to know your audience. You need to know if they are comfortable with social media. Take time to do your research on where your attendees are active. Some effort upfront will ensure that you are all talking on the same channels.

Shepard says to make sure that the platforms you use are accessible. “It can be very frustrating if the bandwidth at your venue is inadequate or there are firewalls in the way.” You need to check with the venue and negotiate to make sure that the wifi is adequate for your social media needs.

“Have help desks to help attendees use social media,” says Shepard. There is no benefit to having Twitter feeds or Facebook pages if your attendees cannot engage.

Once the conference begins, the real fun with social media starts.

Create a conference hashtag. A dedicated conference hashtag can serve several purposes, but most often it provides a way for conference attendees to engage in virtual conversation with other attendees, whether that’s about the speakers that excited them, the ideas they want to discuss, or the delicious lunch they just had. You can also use hashtags to allow attendees to ask questions during sessions via Twitter. Questions can be displayed on screens or be seen just by the speakers. This can help to encourage shy attendees to ask questions and to temper those who may use question time for self promotion.

Social media can also help conference organizers. According to Precker, “Social media has also become another customer service outlet too. If attendees voice their complaints onsite about overcrowding in a session, problems with the event app, or even registration, then we can see it happening in real time and react quickly. Hopefully, it will help our attendees have positive experiences.”

As the conference winds down, social media can be used to take the conference content and spread it as widely as possible. Your goal is to get the doubters that didn’t come this year to view that content and decide to go the next year. Take every conference presentation, and instead of just putting them on your Web site or emailing links to attendees, release them on SlideShare (one per day for maximum impact). Provide Twitter transcripts to attendees, and also post it to your various event pages. Backupify has a new free service called Session Tweets where you can automatically make a PDF of all tweets using your event hashtag.

Social media is also a great way for organizations to obtain feedback and measurable data from attendees. Most social media platforms have analytical tools that help you gather information on everything from polls, to membership votes, to speaker reviews (and a great way to go green and ditch the paper evaluation forms). Having the ability to gather these metrics and to prolong the value of the content also shows that an organization is strong, what it has accomplished, and that the meeting still matters.

From start to finish, social media is a fabulous (and practically mandatory) way to entice, engage, and encourage attendees and to provide them with an exceptional experience.

Watch for Part 2 of this series, where members of the Meeting Professionals Advisory Council will talk about some of the social media success stories at their conferences and meetings.

CP Members Receive CIC Award

Kudos go out to Jane Schuldt, CIS, CITE, founder and president, World Marketing Group Ltd. and longtime supplier partner of along with Patricia Farías Barlow, CEM, CEO, Puerto Vallarta Convention Center, a brand new member for being honored by The Convention Industry Council.

“This year’s CIC Hall of Leaders and Pacesetter Award inductees represent a global footprint of the meetings, conventions, events, and exhibitions industry and we are excited to celebrate their expertise, leadership, and breadth of achievements. The iconic Hall of Leaders encapsulates a lifetime achievement award, while the Pacesetter Awards recognizes emerging leaders who have made an impact,” said the CEO of the Convention Industry Council, Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP.

The winners will be inducted into the CIC Hall of Leaders for 2015 during IMEX America in Las Vegas this coming October. The team is proud to be partners with such esteemed colleagues and we value their contributions as leaders in the meetings industry. To Jane and Patricia, Congratulations and ¡Felicidades! Forms Strategic Alliance with SPiN: Senior Planners Industry Network, a popular online search directory and RFP portal for the meetings industry, has formed a strategic alliance with SPiN: Senior Planners Industry Network to provide mutually beneficial tools and education.

SPiN is an organization of 2,500 meeting professionals with more than 10 years of experience. Its goal is to provide a community of peers that shares essential tools, best practices, and education.

SPiN will offer content written by its members to and promote to its members. SPiN members will benefit from advanced online tools that streamline the RFP process and provide knowledge resources, such as RFP Valet®, RFP OrganizationSM, the e-Alert e-newsletter, Stellar Tips, international and green meeting resources, and more. will participate in SPiN-sponsored conferences, webinars and initiatives and provide marketing support for advertising sales on, and

“Our two organizations share the same philosophy when it comes to fixing the broken RFP system in our industry,” says Co-Founder and Principal Katherine Markham, CHME. “The senior-level planners that belong to SPiN fully understand the challenges we face and are in a position to help influence and deliver solutions.”

“The RFP process can be frustrating and time consuming – has great tools to help streamline this process for planners,” said Sara Vanderbilt, Executive Director of SPiN. “Through this new partnership, SPiN and will empower senior meeting planners with essential tools, best practices and education.”

Both organizations will cross-promote each other on their websites and in other communications.

Designed by meeting professionals as an efficient registration-free online search directory, is a website that quickly refines searches to identify suitable destinations, facilities, and service providers. connects buyers with sellers and there are no commissions, mark-ups or hidden fees. For more information, visit

About SPiN

SPiN:Senior Planners Industry Network is the world’s largest association of senior-level planners with at least 10 years full time planning experience. Learn more at

About is a registration-free and commission-free search engine and RFP portal for meeting professionals. Planners can search for destinations, hotels, meeting facilities, special event venues, and service providers. Additional resources including links to industry organizations and trade press, news updates, and an industry blog are provided. Learn more at

Tri County MPI EdCON Recap

CP Regional Director of Sales Deborah Shepard attended the Tri County MPI EdCON last week, and provided us all of the details!

MPI EdCON is an education/conference/exhibit full day program, put together by the Southern CA (LA/Las Vegas) chapter, San Diego and Orange County chapters.

It moves from host chapter to host chapter, and is now in its 3rd year. There were about 60 exhibitors plus a successful hosted buyer program the day before.

Deborah caught up with a few of CP’s member suppliers, and of course we wanted to share the photos with you!

Team San Jose_Christine Davidson

Christine Davidson, National Sales Manager with Team San Jose

ALHI and Langham

Associated Luxury Hotels International  Regional DOS Amber Voelker with the Langham Huntington’s Group Sales Manager, Nima Javadi


Visit Newport Beach had a very professional set up with a double booth. This photo does not do it justice!

Friday Webinar Series – Improve Productivity with RFP Organization

What: RFP Organization Webinar

When: Friday May 8 | 11:30-12:00 pm est OR3:30-4:00 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!

High Tech Meeting Trends

The latest technology toys are creating some spectacular meeting innovations. From drones to virtual reality, tech tools are allowing for new ways to collect metrics, showcase products that otherwise would be impossible to display, and engage attendees.
Drones are here, and they are being put to use. Amazon made headlines with its testing of a drone-based delivery service. In events, drones are providing new touch points for consumers as Pepto-Bismol did at Six Flags Theme Parks where consumers could “Tweet for Relief” and have Pepto-Bismol delivered via a drone drop. Expect drones to impact the event planning space as well. Drones can be used to identify areas of congestion such as at registration or break areas and allow staff to react. They can help to locate lost freight by flying over and searching the show floor. Drones can be used to capture data from the air regarding traffic flow, dwell times, and areas of interest.
Holograms have been around for years in a static capacity, but they are starting to become more interactive and advanced. At the U.S. Open tennis tournament, American Express activated an augmented reality Pro Com, where fans could pose with a hologram of professional tennis player Sloane Stephens. Beyond photo activations, holograms they are getting more high-tech and animated. Imagine delivering a CEO keynote to satellite streaming events using hologram technology.
At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Show, Siemens demonstrated a new IT software solution with a 25-foot display of 188 iPad tablets linked to each other to create synchronized media showcases. Other health care companies are using tablets and software-enabled accessories to demonstrate, among things, how to administer medicine with a syringe the correct way. On top of that, inline entertainment magic tricks and trivia games powered with tablet kiosk stations are just the tip of the iceberg on how tablets and software will continue to inform and, more importantly, engage and entertain.
Virtual reality is making the expected shift from a hot entertainment tool to an educational tool that drives sales. Take Lowe’s Home Improvement, which in Canada has been testing a service called Holloroom. It allows shoppers to enter the dimension of a room to renovate, select all the products and materials, and then strap on a pair of Oculus Rift goggles to virtually tour their room and finishes. Bosch Automotive Parts this year took an Oculus Rift educational room on the road, designing virtual software that allowed mechanics to go inside its engine parts.

Advances in technology are creating exciting opportunities at meetings and trade shows. Not only do they capture attendees’ attention, they also provide new mediums by which deliver information and educate in a very memorable way.

Meet Sara Vanderbilt, New Advisory Council Member

This is the latest in a continuing series highlighting members of the Advisory Council, comprised of meeting professionals and others in the meetings industry who help shape to meet the needs of the industry.

sara vanderbilt

Sara Vanderbilt is the Executive Director of SPiN, the Senior Meetings Industry Network. SPiN is an organization of 2,500 meeting professionals with more than 10 years of experience. Its goal is to provide a community of peers that shares essential tools, best practices, and education. In her role Executive Director, she manages all aspects of SPiN to ensure its success.

Sara started out working as a Certified Microsoft Instructor for several years before joining COMPASS Events (the third-party planning company Shawna owned prior to SPIN:Senior Planners Industry Network).

After helping a friend out as a trip director, she caught the industry “bug” and joined COMPASS Events as the company’s operations manager. She has orchestrated meetings and training seminars for various corporations both nationally and internationally.

She considers herself a part-time techie who loves to play with anything new. She is also a die-hard Cornhusker fan and tries, rather reluctantly, to be a runner and cyclist. She is a “mother” of a rescue puppy and a kitten, and volunteers with the youth at her church. She also volunteers as a Regional Coordinator with her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta.

View more members of the Advisory Council.