Mission Possible – Putting Ideas Into Action
By Daniel Metz, Specialist, Marketing
Professional Convention Management Association
How many meetings (be they internal organizational or external industry) have you attended and afterwards grumbled “that was a waste of my time… I didn’t get anything out of attending.” The 2012 PCMA Education Conference Committee wanted to ensure every participant “got a lot out of attending” and orchestrated multiple opportunities to secure solid takeaways – even for sessions they might have been unable to attend.
At the end of each day, there was a DAILY DOWNLOAD, with recaps provided by program committee members assigned to each session. The DD facilitator highlighted the big nuggets from that day’s sessions. Participants could ask questions and discuss the key learnings from all the sessions held that day. The session notes were then made available to all attendees at the end of the conference.
Additionally, Wednesday morning’s family-style breakfast was a nosh and learn facilitated session, with Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University and expert on bridging talent and generational gaps in the workplace.
Sladek was accompanied by a reactor panel made up of meetings industry professionals, Brad Kent, Vice President, Industry Relation and former PCMA Board Member, Ben Goedegebuure Director, Sales, Scottish Exhibitions & Conference Centre and current PCMA Board Member, and Valerie Summer, Principal, VRS Meetings and Events Inc. and current PCMA Board Trustee. The panel was tasked to choose the audience’s best solutions to the “missions” she assigned.
First Mission: Bring the Trade Show Back to Life
They say the trade show is dying, and that it is a necessary, expensive evil in the industry. The audience came up with a number of wonderful ideas to improve the trade show:
- Combine a virtual trade show with in-person trade show
- Bring theatre to the floor
- Incorporate more technology and social media
- Educate exhibitors on how to better connect with attendees
- The Winner: More creature comforts on the floor and provide a visually stimulating atmosphere.
Second Mission: How Do You Provide and Improve Return on Investment
People always want to know, what’s in it for me? Why should I come to your event? The audience was up to the task of completing this mission, coming up with a number of solutions.
- Redefine ROI
- Roll out pre and post-event surveys
- Set up work stations with a basic matrix of information (how many leads were generated, costs, etc.) which would provide a printout showing how they benefited.
- Manage expectations and identify the elements of the value exchange
- The Winner: Set up a system where the intangibles of the event are rated and place specific values to the intangibles. This way the ROI is customized for what each attendee feels is most important.
Third Mission: How Do You Get Generations X and Y to Show Up?
With such a large generational shift taking place, cultures are bound to clash at events and you need to keep everyone interested and engaged. A number of fantastic solutions were shared:
- Include interactive games
- Provide brief face-to-face meeting with speaker to get a session preview
- Get both generations involved in the planning stage
- Ask people what they want
- Each generation should mentor the other
- The Winner: Create a lounge type environment; keeping the event fresh with live music and entertainment while also being in a comfortable setting.
A great piece of advice from Sladek for the audience: create the exceptional, doubt the conventional.