Tag Archives: meeting education

Meeting Planner Summer Camp

Learn and play with a purpose at the Reston Herndon Meeting Planners (RHMP) summer camp 2017!

The camp takes place on July 27th in Leesburg, VA and will have lots of fun, professional development training, and the opportunity to learn about managing interactive traditional and non-traditional meetings.

The event is free to planners!

To register and additional details, visit http://www.rhplanners.info/

ASAE Annual Visits Salt Lake City

David Markham, Mara Buckner and Maureen Pickell enjoying ASAE Salt Lake City

David Markham, Mara Buckner and Maureen Pickell enjoying ASAE Salt Lake City

If it’s mid-August, it must be time for your intrepid blogger to report on the 2016 ASAE Annual Conference & Exposition. Salt Lake City was the fortunate city this year to host 4,800 attendees anxious to network and attend educational sessions positioned to help them:

  • Grow globally
  • Foster volunteerism
  • Be a collaborative leader
  • Design inclusive, safe and welcoming meetings
  • Establish a disaster plan
  • Educate tomorrows workforce
No these weren’t the window washers!

No these weren’t the window washers!

ASAE’s opening night receptions are always epic, but Salt Lake brought a new dimension to their event held against the dramatic backdrop of the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges in downtown Library Square. Along with the local food and drink and a giant social wall projected onto the side of the city’s art, science, and technology museum, attendees were treated to aerial dancing on the public library’s glass exterior wall by Project Bandaloop.

That’s right, the WALL of the building served as the stage as we all looked to the sky to follow the intricate performance.

I don’t think that this was planned as the lead-in to the Opening General Session the next morning, but we found ourselves focused heavenward again as astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly enthralled the audience with a dual keynote “conversation” about the challenges connected with their combined 550-some days in outer space.

Using a combination of brotherly bantering and serious reflection, the Kelly’s presentation demonstrated how we should always welcome the opportunity to accomplish something that is hard. Thank you ASAE for kicking off the conference with men of action instead of just “talking heads.”!!

Mergers, Meetings and Avoiding Mayhem

brand mergersWith all of the recent hotel mergers, PCMA decided to tackle the topic at a recent conference with a panel of suppliers and meeting planners.
ConventionPlanit was there to get the scoop!
The main concern is that of relationships “going away” as companies consolidate – though the point was made that unless they are merged, some companies would disappear, taking those relationships with them anyway.

Hoteliers mentioned that it is critical that a like meeting of the minds exists when merger candidates are under consideration. The most important core value is “put people first otherwise mechanics will fail.” Visions should be set clearly and belief systems should be in line.

Change occurs along with the need to adapt. Business is still relational, so change should be understood and not feared even though business rules will be re-written to make room for something different. This would include the fact that those basic terms i.e. cancellation policies/deposits/commissions etc. will be under review due to fewer players.

Specifically in regard to the Marriott/Starwood merger, 60% of U.S. lodging is franchised. Therefore, the individual GMs will still set pricing as large chains have never had this responsibility and that will not change moving forward.
This fragmented approach (unlike the Airlines) takes into consideration market conditions as well as the needs of each owner.

Major Brands will need to satisfy all parties at once…owners/managers/clients. How do they hear the voice of the customer? Having a similar culture helps relationships stay consistent.
It’s important to maintain vulnerability by keeping ego out of it. Provide incremental value or Don’t Do It. Use Advisory Boards and provide open communication.

Other take-a ways:

Don’t under estimate the time it takes to complete a merger. There is a goal on the horizon but as it is human driven, it takes years to do well.

PLANNERS need to be open-minded, not anticipating problems. Express any concerns in a civilized manner as fundamentals need to stay strong…provide constant education to end users to manage expectations.

BRANDS must communicate to the customer openly, frequently and consistently from a marketing perspective. Avoid a vacuum or people will fill it with their own negativity.

BOTH SIDES should manage emotions, show empathy and look at the good changes taking place (more affordable technology and cost savings based on volume purchasing).
What other concerns do you have about mergers? Any other tips to help navigate the changing market? Comment below!

IMEX America Showbuzz

The month of October is known for cooler weather, falling leaves and IMEX America in Las Vegas.

Your intrepid blogger is happy to bring you the “showbuzz” for the fifth edition of the largest meetings industry trade show in the U.S.!

Even the Democratic Debates took a back seat to this show, boasting more than 3,100 exhibitors representing 150 countries interacting with 3,000 buyers from 54 countries.

Your intrepid blogger with two of our hosted buyers

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 Philippine Department of Tourism.

It was hard to believe that along with all the rushing around amid the super charged atmosphere of IMEX America (i.e. if I’d been wearing a FitBit, I would have blown out the mileage calculator!), there was actually a “Wellness” theme infusing the entire show.

Along with the health and well-being track that ran through the education program, participants were encouraged to stop by certain booths that were dispensing everything from green energy shots to fruit boosts and granola bars.

Needless to say, it was more difficult to find these healthy options that it was to locate Louisville Bourbon, Bailey’s Irish Cream and wine from just about any destination on the show floor! Yours truly felt very healthy early on but must admit to enjoying a “wee dram” of Scotland’s best whiskey to end a challenging day.

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 ConventionPlanit.com 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.”

IMEX America Hosted Buyer Opportunity

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!

IMEX Provides Everything Planners Need

IMEX is all work with some “play.” ConventionPlanit.com hosted buyers Marianne Van Wagner of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society and Alison Watson of Society Offices relax at a dinner hosted by CP.com supplier member ACC Liverpool.

The weather has been lovely in Frankfurt so outside restaurants are very popular after a long day sequestered in Hall 8 of the Messe!



IMEX has been described as “a crash course on what the world has to offer.” Two major examples of the type of education provided are the programs presented during the “Exclusively Corporate @ IMEX seminar and the traditional Association Day sessions.

From discussions of issues that are challenging many parts of the meetings industry to how to juggle being creative as well as compliant, corporate and association planners found the programs to be perfectly targeted in providing useful tips.

One planner put it succinctly, “I only attend IMEX and no other shows, it provides everything I need.”

Yesterday, me and the hosted buyer group ended the group appointment component of the show at the stand of our supplier partners The Malaysia Tourism Board and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Speaking of appointments, there have been more than 60, 000 individual and group meetings at the show.  No wonder it’s been so hard to navigate the aisles of the Messe congress center!

PCMA 2014: The {R}evolution Starts Now

Well, if it’s January, it must be the annual PCMA Convening Leaders 2014! Your intrepid blogger arrived in Boston Sunday and joined the ranks of meetings industry planners, suppliers, students and faculty ready to be transformed by education, engagement and networking.

The Mayor of Boston welcomes PCMA

The Mayor of Boston welcomes PCMA

As usual, Convening Leaders combines the best of PCMA’s premier education and best practices under the theme “The {R}evolution Starts Now.” The five area of focus are:

  • Technology 140113_002
  • Business & Strategy
  • Globalization
  • Working Together
  • Meetings & Experience Design

Attendees will be leaving with more than a few good nuggets of information, helpful strategies and plenty of new contacts.

Providing a glimpse into the future of meeting planning, PCMA recognized today’s emerging leaders by introducing the “20 in Their Twenties” inaugural class. Applicants had to be employed full time in the meetings industry, be 29 years or younger and showcase three ways they can be considered industry leaders.

The number of applications submitted exceeded all expectations, and those chosen receive complimentary 2014 PCMA conference registrations, $1,500.00 for travel expenses, and with additional benefits to be awarded until they reach 30.

Truly a worthwhile initiative by PCMA, engaging these young leaders who promote innovation within the industry is critical to its continuing success.

Meeting Venues Re-Imagined

As a meeting organizer, would you ever think of staging your event in a storage container or present your attendees with a lounge chair so they could stretch out flat in order to watch a screen mounted on the ceiling? If not, you need to dust off your imagination and be aware that creating innovative spaces will be an important component of meeting planning moving forward.

At a panel discussion during the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado’s Annual Conference, attendees were treated to ways you can work with venues to re-design meeting space to ensure innovation, collaboration and participation. Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, Gary Schirmacher of Experient talked with moderator, Glenn Thayer about how space matters to meeting attendees.

When they enter an area, they feel and internalize what that environment tells them about how to react and respond. Consider the difference between the standard theater style set-up designed for efficient transfer of information from the stage (which doesn’t necessarily guarantee learning) versus a creative space with beanbag couches grouped to encourage informal engagement by participants.

Studies showing that kids work better in teams have resulted in a typical classroom format being composed of groupings of small tables with 4 chairs each to foster participation. When you consider that today’s younger audiences have the same attention span as children due to the influence of technology on their communication skills, perhaps this concept of “edutainment” is the right path to follow!

How are spaces changing? Here are some examples of new design elements:

  • “Brainwave Lounging” instead of upright seating
  • Beanbag chairs
  • Furniture on wheels
  • See-thru walls
  • Entire conference on mobile apps
  • “Tiered” spaces -large spaces mingled with small

As competition to draw attendees to your conference increases, planners will need to look towards a different designing of attitudes and behaviors to create deep and meaningful collaborations to attract this audience. To assist in this endeavor, reach out to your colleagues as follows:

  • Budgets: work with Sponsors to direct their funds from just providing logos to helping you to design experiences to move attendees towards being active participants. They will be seen to be on the “cutting edge” for a better ROI.
  • Venues: communicate with hotel and special event venue managers to explore how they are envisioning and re-designing traditional spaces – i.e. using conventional venue furniture to design new room sets to foster learning and one-on-one connection.

Space matters. It’s no longer just a room but a valuable tool to help you stage a successful event. Storage containers may not be the ideal alternative but it does get you thinking!

AIBTM 2012 Starts Off Strong

The exhibit hall at AIBTM opened yesterday to an eager group of meeting planners and exhibitors!  The second year of the show boasted many new exhibitors and plenty of interesting displays and content.

The ConventionPlanit.com booth staff was hard at work giving meeting planners tours of the website and telling them about our new features, including the RFP Organization Tool.  With this time saving feature, CP staff collects and organizes RFP responses in an easy to read spreadsheet for planners.

In addition to the many new meeting planners we met, we also saw quite a few familiar faces, including a bunch of the planners who are on our Advisory Council.  Of course we had to capture their familiar faces on camera!

AIBTM 2012

When Maureen and I started our trek around the show floor, longtime friends Madelaine Morgan, CMP, was the first person we ran into!

AIBTM 2012

ConventionPlanit.com Co-Founder Katherine Markham, CHME, Advisory Council member Windy Christner, CMP, and Maureen Pickell, CTC caught up with one another in the ConventionPlanit.com booth.  Aside from sitting on our Advisory Council, you may recognize Windy from her professional acting debut in our catchy music video!

AIBTM 2012

We stopped Valerie Sumner on the way to one of her may Hosted Buyer appointments for a quick photo.  Valerie recently used the RFP Organization Tool, and she printed out the spreadsheet to carry around to her appointments with her.  She is one organized planner!

AIBTM 2012

Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, another Advisory Council member, stopped by our booth to rest her feet in between Hosted Buyer appointments.  The show floor was quite large and definitely gave us a work out moving around!

Stay tuned tomorrow for some more fun pictures from the show, including some of the amazing booths our members put together.  Thanks to AIBTM and to Baltimore for hosting such a fun and educational event!