Author Archives: Ashley Chalmers

About Ashley Chalmers is a completely search directory and RFP portal for meeting planners. This blog will feature meetings industry tips and news geared toward meeting planners and an inside look at the tradeshows participates in.


KILLYLEAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND, 06 February 2023 — PCMA today opened registration for Convening EMEA, taking place in one of most sustainable cities in the world, Copenhagen, from 20 – 22, September 2023. PCMA also announced the opening keynote speakers Nathan Furr and Susannah Harmon Furr, authors of The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown, which was named #2 in Forbes Best Business Books of 2022. Convening EMEA is an omnichannel event offering digital and in-person participation for business event professionals and creatives to share learnings and collaborate to build a stronger future for the global business events community. In-person registration offers delegates an allaccess pass to the educational conference held at the Bella Center Copenhagen, as well as social activities and an opportunity to explore Copenhagen with a plethora of exploration tours on offer. Convening EMEA, expected to be a sell-out meeting, aims to bring over 500+ global industry leaders together for the flagship event in aim of building a stronger future for the global business events community. With this mission at the heart of the programme Nathan and Susannah aim to demonstrate how the global business events industry can turn uncertainty into a force of good. “We have co-authored a book called the Upside of Uncertainty. It’s a guidebook for finding possibility in the unknown. We live in uncertain times, but the good news is there are tools for having courage and resilience in finding possibility even when it feels frightening. We are so excited to workshop these tools in Copenhagen” said Nathan and Susannah Furr. “The planning for this year’s Convening EMEA is fully underway, and we are very excited about how the programme looks thus far. In addition, we cannot wait to unfold our beautiful Copenhagen and share with the PCMA participants all our favourite parts of the city. Whether a boat trip, our sustainability walk through Tivoli Gardens, a visit to the multifunctional BLOX building, or any of the other tours and social evenings, we have planned, participants will experience first-hand what a sustainable, liveable and welcoming city Copenhagen is,” said Kit Lykketoft, Director of Convention, Wonderful Copenhagen 2/2 Registration and further details and registration are available at

Bloomington, MN Enhances their Under One Roof Meeting Solution

During IMEX America’s recent 2022 Exhibition held in Las Vegas, the Bloomington CVB held a press conference announcing enhancements to their Under One Roof meeting solution allowing groups to create customized team-building experiences during events at Mall of America.

The following newly created experiences with Mall of America partners can be added to take events above and beyond the ordinary:

  • Lululemon Yoga Experience
  • M Health Fairview Mall of America One-Mile Walk Experience
  • Yankee Candle Experience
  • Tumi Luggage Packing Experience

Under One Roof bundles together unique luxury meeting space at JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, Radisson Blu Mall of America and the Mall of America, with built-in entertainment and dining in one convenient package.

“The hospitality marketplace continues to evolve, and planners are looking for tailored experiences that are truly memorable, “stated Dan O’Neil, vice president of strategy and sales for the Bloomington CVB. “We’ve had success offering this large, unique space at Mall of America with its built-in entertainment. Adding custom experiences really takes it to the next level.”

For more information about Under One Roof, contact Dan O’Neill at

IMEX America October 11-13, 2022 Las Vegas

Booking events outside the US or have US meetings of 1,000+ attendees annually?

Come to IMEX America in Las Vegas

Susan Sarfati and Liz Jackson invite you to join our hosted buyer group October 10-12, 2022.

The IMEX America is complimentary and so much more: 

  • Complimentary single accommodations for you with our group
  • Once confirmed, book your preferred air travel, and claim a refund
  • Add to your CMP and CAE credits with the many free education programs. 
  • Enjoy our group’s sponsored breakfasts and dinner
  • Join a community of professional planners to engage with during the show and make connections that last after the event.
  • Receive ongoing updates and news about IMEX happenings so you don’t miss a thing.
  • Get guidance from experienced group leaders so your experience will be productive and enjoyable.

Come to IMEX. Connect with the world. Continue your industry growth!  RSVP today to

A glittering night of celebration, reconnection and recognition

Professionals from all corners of the global business events industry were honoured at the IMEX in Frankfurt Gala Dinner Awards at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel last night.

As part of IMEX in Frankfurt currently taking place, the awards brought together meeting and event professionals in a glittering gathering to celebrate the achievements, innovation and resilience of individuals within the industry.

The evening started with a huge round of applause, as Destinations International President and CEO Don Welsh handed over the Global Ambassador Award to Adam Burke, president and CEO of Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Burke was recognised for his commitment to developing equity, diversity and inclusion best practices as well as for strong leadership within his community. Attendees heard how Burke drives initiatives that support workforce development within the destination and introduced the concept of the city’s convention centre serving as a space to support future leaders.

The roll of honour continued with the IAEE International Excellence Award, presented by IAEE President and CEO David DuBois to Simon Wang, executive vice president, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Wang has been at the forefront of various government projects promoting the meetings and events industry and is project director of Taiwan’s MICE Promotion Program – MEET. An experienced and devoted promoter, he’s one of the opinion leaders in Taiwan’s MICE industry.

With sustainability continuing to be high priority, especially as the 2050 Net Zero target edges closer, this year’s IAPCO Innovation Award was particularly fitting.  Ms Ok Hyojung, director of Ezpmp Korea, was honoured for her use of innovative digital technology to deliver a flawless carbon neutral event to a virtual audience. The P4G Summit in Korea in 2021 was the first multilateral environmental event to be hosted by the South Korean government and brought together government representatives and international organisations to focus on ‘Inclusive Green Recovery Towards Carbon Neutrality.’

New for this year, The ICCA Global Influencer Award acknowledges an outstanding contribution to the association meetings industry and was won by Thomas Reiser, executive director of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) and chair – ICCA Association Advisory Committee. ICCA President James Rees presented the award in recognition of Reiser’s leadership role and the impact of his personality, knowledge and expertise throughout the association community.

As JMIC President, Rees also presided over the JMIC Unity Award, given to Rod Cameron, president of Criterion Communications Ltd. The award recognised Cameron’s significant contribution to the development of the industry and consistently high level of professionalism.

Next, the awards looked ahead to the event professionals of the future:Panashe Mahakwa, a student at Vistula University in Warsaw, won the MPI Foundation Student Scholarship Award, which celebrates and supports the next generation of meeting planners as part of the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum International University Challenge.

The PCMA Global Business Events Executive of the Year Award is always hotly anticipated. PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat recognised Patrizia Buongiorno, vice president, AIM GROUP International. She truly exemplifies the sentiment with which this award was created by holding herself and her team to the highest standards, mentoring, training and creating opportunities for her team to be recognised for their achievements. In addition to her role at AIM Group International, Buongiorno also dedicates her time to teaching the next generation of industry professionals at several universities.

One of our industry’s most valued skills is the ability to motivate, and it was the duty of Rebecca Wright, SITE executive director, to hand over the Jane E. Schuldt SITE Master Motivator Award to the brilliant Paul Miller, CIS, CITP, managing director of Spectra DMC.  Before his current role with Spectra, an award-winning DMC based in the UK, Miller has had four years of service in the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace. This award honours a SITE member who upholds the highest standard of excellence in creating and delivering successful incentive travel events and exudes enthusiasm and a collaborative spirit in support of the global incentive travel community.

The global pandemic has elevated legacy from optional add-on to fundamental requirement. The Copenhagen Convention Bureau won the hotly-contestedIMEX EIC Innovation in Sustainability Award for its Copenhagen Legacy Lab (CLL). Amy Calvert, CEO of EIC, presented the award to Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, Copenhagen CVB’s deputy convention director. The CLL connects international congresses held in Copenhagen with local business and science communities, thereby integrating legacy before, during and after events.

The Paul Flackett IMEX Academy Awards, named in tribute to the former IMEX managing director, were a fitting climax to the dinner. Three outstanding women were recognised for their long-term commitment to the industry and for pushing boundaries around innovation.   

The 2022 roll call: 

  • Carlotta Ferrari, Convention Bureau Italia
  • Barbara Jamison-Woods, London & Partners
  • Karen Bolinger, Bolinger Consulting

Carina Bauer, IMEX Group CEO, said: “A huge congratulations to all our Academy Award winners. These awards are a timely reminder of the sheer innovation, professionalism, skill and resilience that our industry is renowned for and should, rightfully, celebrate.”

Malaysia is ready to connect at IMEX Frankfurt

Frankfurt, Germany – Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) will be staging its presence at the 20th IMEX Frankfurt worldwide exhibition happening from 31 May – 2 June 2022 held in Messe, Frankfurt. The national bureau acts as Malaysia’s leading representative partaking a tradeshow to showcase its timely business events’ offerings projecting significant breakthrough in restarting the business events industry amidst endemic times. 

Paving the way, MyCEB will be introducing Malaysia’s campaigns and initiatives responsible to revitalise business event activities in 2022 such as the 3R Initiative – Reset, Restart, Responsible, Meet in Malaysia Campaign, and MySafe Business Events Planner. The 3R initiative includes supporting Malaysian companies to maintain membership with international associations, comprehensive upskilling programmes and certification, and provide incentive to international delegates. MyCEB is glorified to share that a list of private sector’s participation from the business events industry is covered under the 3R initiative for this particular trade show.

The pinnacle of MyCEB’s participation lays the essence of the business events economy aimed at knowledge sharing, networking, future research capacity, and showcasing the destination’s reputation all of which leads to boost business opportunities at a global scale. Malaysia will be showcasing a strong showing of 9 exhibitors namely World Trade Centre (WTC) Kuala Lumpur, Business Events Sarawak, Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC), Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB), Setia SPICE Convention Centre and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).

IMEX Frankfurt is designed as a powerful platform for business event industry players to come together; display and demonstrate the latest updates and services for over 1500 exhibitors from more than 90 countries. 

House Members are STILL fighting for aid for the Live Events Industry

By Wendy E. Porter

Owner, Wendy Porter Events, LLC

Vice-Chair, Government Affairs, Live Events Coalition

March 18, 2022

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the $15 billion Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) as part of the COVID Relief Bill. And then on March 11, 2021, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), of which $360 billion was allocated to state and local governments to support COVID relief efforts, including for small business relief. I’m hearing from a lot of misguided people that my industry “must be okay” now. Well… not so fast. 

While the SVOG was very much needed to keep our small independent venues, like Minneapolis’ First Avenue, alive, it didn’t go far enough. It helped the small venues stay afloat by covering their operating losses, but it didn’t help support the every-day gig worker or small business owners, who create events at those venues. 

The ARPA funding theoretically pushed billions into small businesses in the Live Events Industry, but yet, most of that money never got where it was intended to go, as states had wide discretion on how to distribute the funds. According to a September 2021 survey by the Live Events Coalition, over 90% of small businesses in the Live Events Industry have been completely left out of aid from these packages.

And then people said, “Congress is not prioritizing the money correctly. There are people standing in food lines, and they give it to the arts with SVOG? Who cares about the arts! Why aren’t they giving more to restaurants, where people are REALLY in need?”

I’m here to tell you why you should care. About the Arts and all the rest of the Live Events Industry, in which I have been employed for the last 20 years of my career. These ARE the people who are really in need… I’d argue as much or more than any other industry. After all, there was no curbside pickup in Live Events. We were literally SHUT DOWN. For almost two years. And some of our segments (i.e. Corporate) and not really back yet. Corporate trade shows are just starting to be held in person again. My company has done one in-person trade show. In two years. And it happened last week.

The Live Events Industry is the biggest “unknown” industry in the US, annually representing a conservatively estimated nearly $1 TRILLION in direct spending. This industry includes ALL events where people gather that are professionally organized. That includes not only Arts/Theatre, but also Conferences, Trade Shows, Business Meetings, Weddings, Funerals, Graduations, Birthday & Anniversary Celebrations, Art & Music Festivals, Concerts, Music Tours, Parades, Fundraisers, Awards Galas, Inaugurations, Sporting Events… basically the entire fabric of our culture and society. 

Every single person in the US takes part in a professionally organized event at some point in their lives. We are the people in black behind the curtain. When we do our jobs right, you don’t know we are there. That is completely by design. It’s supposed to look effortless. And over the last two years, that’s really hurt us. No one seems to know we exist and how large the industry is. It’s beyond time to come out from the shadows.

According to the Live Events Coalition, 12 million people work in the Live Events Industry in the US, with hundreds of types of jobs represented across over 1 million small businesses. From event producers coordinating the entire event, to the truck drivers hauling the gear,10 million of these people were 100% unemployed due to no fault of their own and an additional two million were underemployed.

To put that in context, in November 2020, 22 million people were unemployed in the US. 45% of the unemployed were people FROM the Live Events Industry. These were the people who were standing in food lines and not able to pay their rent. And many of these people are still not back to work or have mountains of debt to overcome. Homes, cars and other assets have been sold. 401K’s, savings accounts and college funds wiped out. People have taken their lives. The COVID-19 impact on the workforce in the Live Events Industry has been severe and staggering.

This is about a HUGE industry of people that have not been cared for by our government when they were forced to stop working due to government mandates to stop the spread of a deadly disease. So yes, if you care about Restaurant workers, you should also care about Live Events Industry workers. We are all interconnected.  An event is at the epicenter. People drive to get to the event; they stay in hotels; they eat at restaurants; they shop. The ripple effect is massive. Make no mistake, events are a major economic driver across the globe, and our industry has been forgotten.

To give you a comparison, in 2018, the US Automotive Industry was a $545.4 billion industry. The Live Events Industry is nearly two times larger. The US Automotive Industry got a government bailout several years ago for mismanagement because they were “too big to fail.” We have not mismanaged our businesses, but yet, we are not being seen as having a need. We were the first to close. And we have been the last to reopen… with many events still not back on the calendar.

The Live Events Industry is part of the entire US ecosystem. From the food grown by the farmers that is served by caterers, to the power used by utility companies to light events up and create the sound… to the flowers grown for weddings, and the gas used by truckers to get gear from point A to point B. If you think this “doesn’t matter”, you are sorely mistaken and entirely missing the point.

Think of a big game of Jenga, where the pieces are all interconnected to create the tower. The pieces are slowly being pulled out. You take out too many of the pieces… the entire thing collapses. That is exactly what is at risk. The people in our industry are those Jenga pieces in our society. Stop thinking of this as just the Guthrie or just the Kennedy Center or just First Avenue. Think of the entire ecosystem impacted. It’s massive.

Are we still fighting? You bet we are! Why? Because our industry now has a 2-year hole to dig out of. We have all been in the same storm over the last two years. But some of us have been on yachts. Some of us have been paddling in canoes. And some of us have been drowning. We are the ones drowning. We are not asking to be made whole by Congress. We have never asked for that. We are asking for the same help afforded to other parts of our society during this crisis, which is still not over. We just need a lifeboat to help us weather this storm until it passes.

We have active legislation in the works, being championed by Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN). In fact, just yesterday, an article ran in Politico about a Letter to Speaker Pelosi and Chair DeLauro asking them to support an active bill to get more help for businesses in live events, gyms, restaurants not supported by the Restaurant Revitalization Act (RRA) because the funding ran out, and for other small businesses that have been left out of aid.

The Live Events Industry is also “too big to fail”, and it’s more than time for Congress to take appropriate action to support this vital industry in our US economy.


Wendy Porter, a nationally award-winning event strategist, is the Chief Events Officer of Wendy Porter Events, LLC, based in Minneapolis, MN. She is the Founder/President for the Live Events Coalition Minnesota, the Vice-Chair of Government Affairs for the National Live Events Coalition, and she sits on the National Board of Directors of LEC. Over the last two years, Wendy’s advocacy for the Live Events Industry has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on CNBC and MPR, and in several local press outlets in Minnesota.

TheLive Events Coalition was established in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the live events industry. LEC exists to provide advocacy, resources and a network that connects and supports all of the businesses, contractors and our workforce – the lifeblood of every event. To learn more:

IMEX Frankfurt 2022 Post-Trip to Paris Invitation

Is Paris a prospect for your future meeting?  It’s waiting for you to book at the top of the ICCA list of most popular European meeting cities.  Join Susan Sarfati and Liz Jackson on their IMEX hosted buyer 3-night post-IMEX trip June 2-5 to Paris sponsored by the Paris CVB.  (No need to be part of their IMEX hosted buyer group but are invited to join if you have not yet confirmed for IMEX.)


  1. Association or AMC buyer with a European meeting prospect for Paris                                                                                  
  2. Not held a recent meeting in Paris
  3. Not been on a recent site visit to Paris
  4. Meeting prospect of 100-400+ attendees

The plans include a Thursday evening transfer from Frankfurt to Paris after the IMEX show.  Two full days of visiting Paris landmarks which make this great city a wonderful choice for meeting attendance plus stops at several hotels and conference centers large enough to accommodate meetings.  Transportation, hotel, meals and sightseeing are covered by the Paris CVB.  Fly home from Paris on Sunday or stay in Europe longer on your own. 

Join us and contact Liz Jackson to RSVP 703.964.6030 or

Refreshed Meetings Property in Southwest Florida


In January, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs, Fla., completed a multimillion-dollar guest-room renovation to mark its 20-year anniversary, about a year after updating its meeting and public spaces.

The latest updates include a full transformation of the property’s 426 guest rooms and 28 suites. These showcase a tropical feel with new hardwood flooring, coconut-wood bed frames, and modern furnishing and décor featuring light greens and vibrant ocean blues. In addition, the resort updated its corridors with wavy light-grey and green carpeting plus dark-brown furniture and fixtures.

The new guest rooms complement the resort’s recently renovated meeting spaces and lobby. Across the 40,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, updated features include light-grey carpeting with ocean-blue curved lines to complement the resort’s waterfront location. The two ballrooms—14,000 square feet and 7,000 square feet—feature new lighting, stages surrounded by deep grey and bright blue drapes, and red chairs. The eight breakout rooms of 600 to 1,480 square feet have new lighting and seating as well.

The property’s 42,000 square feet of outdoor event space includes a 12,000-square-foot courtyard framed by large palm trees plus a 5,400-square-foot terrace off the smaller ballroom. Groups can also host receptions in the resort’s smaller grassy courtyards or at its lakeside putting green.

The resort has a three-acre water park featuring a lazy river, five water slides, and several pools.  Of particular interest to meeting and incentive groups: The water park has an adults-only section with a pool and hot tub in a tranquil setting as well as several cabanas. Also, there’s the Stillwater Spa on site.

Guests can explore a quarter-mile boardwalk that winds through the mangrove forest and ends at the resort’s marina, which provides ferry service to Big Hickory Island, a private island that’s part of the Estero Bay Ecological Preserve. On the 15-minute boat ride, guests can keep an eye out for local marine life including manatees and dolphins. Set across the island’s white-sand beach are dozens of chairs and umbrellas.

Five on-site restaurants and a permanently stationed food truck provide F&B options for groups. Guests can watch the sun set while having dinner in the lakeside screened porch at Tarpon Bay restaurant or enjoy coastal comfort food with an international twist in Tanglewood restaurant.

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point is 18 miles from Southwest Florida International Airport, a 25-minute drive.


Great Britain is Easier to Visit!

As 2022 has kicked off, we bring good news. Britain is open and easier than ever to visit. From February 11, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to test or quarantine after arrival (check out our COVID-19 update below). As travel restrictions continue to lessen, many airlines are reintroducing service or launching new routes to Great Britain.

We’re also excited to share VisitBritain’s new brand campaign, ‘Welcome to another side of Britain’ which is set to launch in the US on February 10Scroll down for details.  

Birmingham and the West Midlands are buzzing this year. A six-month cultural program of art and community-led projects will start in March to celebrate creativity across the West Midlands as Birmingham prepares to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games this summer.  On February 6 this year, The Queen will become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service to the UK and Commonwealth. Key celebrations will take place in June and continue throughout the year. Check out Tours International’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Tour and finally, don’t forget to tap into loads of Great Britain itinerary inspiration on Travefy!

IMEX America 2021 Gets the Band Back Together!

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The 10th edition of IMEX America held November 9-11 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas was as much a global homecoming as it was the annual bringing together of thousands of buyers and suppliers in the meeting, convention, and incentive travel market. The IMEX team headed up by Carina Bauer and Ray Bloom did a superhuman job of planning and executing an event that was in danger of being derailed by many “new world” challenges along the way…not the least being the uncertainty of border reopening’s and the certainty of Covid 19 protocols. To quote Carina, “ We were buoyed up knowing you were watching, waiting and willing it into life because it means so much to our global industry.”

As always, along with face to face business, IMEX America offered a wide range of education sessions, a new People & Planet Village with a fruit and vegetable juice bar serving healthy drinks made from imperfect and surplus fruits and vegetables, sustainability and diversity themed panels, one of the largest ever Tech Therapy Hubs and a daily wellbeing program.

However, as the industry’s very first international event to open once the U.S. travel ban was lifted (in the nick of time) on Nov. 8, regeneration and recovery were the main order of business. Roundtables were formed where planners and suppliers offered the wisdom they gained professionally and personally throughout the 18-month interruption of in-person meetings to become better able to thrive in the post-pandemic environment.

The team (Katherine and David Markham, JoAnn Hoffman, Maureen Pickell and Lynne Wellish) is still reeling from working an exhibition that gave approximately 8,500 participants the long awaited opportunity to do business face-to-face. The 2,220 exhibitors representing 200 countries along with 3,000+ buyers saw strong business produced for the exhibiting companies as a result of the 50,000 appointments. These business statistics are admirable but what was even more impressive (yet immeasurable) was the sheer joy and energy generated throughout the exhibition hall as business professionals came back together to pick up right where they left off two years ago.

Final note: The upbeat mood only increased over the three day event as the absolute scope and scale of this year’s show paid testimony to the resilience and adaptability of the global events industry. Thus IMEX America 2021 provided the “shot in the arm” needed by all that could never be duplicated by any vaccine known to modern medicine!

Mark your calendar and see you next year for IMEX America #11 – to be held October 11-13, 2022 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.