Monday, February 1, 2016

Digital Disruption is Alive and Well at Events

Our BCIC Robot Sheldon
tours the show floor at the
#BCTECH Summit
Digital Disruption has already happened. Our meetings and events will never be the same again. Digital disruption has seen the majority of the global population having a device or two in hand most of the time. At its simplest iteration we now have nearly ubiquitous mobile event apps and an ability for everyone at your event to socially share what they are experiencing across multiple platforms, at their discretion and not yours!

During the planning process our clients are googling their way in - requiring videos of all the acts we recommend, often rejecting these based on quality of video vs. our quality of known experience; sending us their Pinterest boards, Instagram shares, TED Talks and links to speakers they like or gorgeous event environments found on-line which may or may not be realistic for their budget, location, type of event and theme or environment being created. Don't get me wrong - these shares can provide valuable insight into what will please your client and (potentially) their stakeholders but it does require more management at times as you edit or adapt based on what is shared.

We have seen social revolutions started on-line, which begs the question - how do you use the tools available to connect and strengthen your own communities? We have the opportunity to use a myriad of tools to build communities online including LinkedIn forums, Facebook events and groups, virtual chat rooms and lounges attached to hybrid software (MediaSite, Inxpo, Kubi and more), internal forums and discussion boards on your association website as simple examples. These allow us to connect to our own meeting and event communities, our associations, and even festivals where 100,000+ are having a "shared" experience. This new digital age can be your best marketing tool at the same time it can be your biggest challenge as your audience become your storytellers - you have to set the "stage" and the "performance" - comfortable environment, thoughtful and thought-provoking speakers, food, beverage and entertainment that makes sense for the showcase to wow those there live and sharing virtually. 

With technology omnipresent in our lives and at our events, we need to be aware of how mobile technology can benefit our experience.  When we set a room we consider how the space design will influence behaviours and enhance learning, and now we need to extend technology from the main stage AV into the audience. As a short list, we can add in
  • flipped learning (watching a video prior to the session for knowledge-based discussion)
  • watching a second screen in-hand with an ability to take notes, ask questions and share
  • avoid the in-room mic runners and the inevitable, awkward wait with the ability to ask questions directly from a device with a plethora of text-based, moderated tools or 
  • CrowdMics where every phone has the potential to be a microphone
  • taking notes and images and sharing these with at-home or remote teams in real-time
  • post ideas and photos direct from devices to a virtual audience 
We no longer live a life outside technology, our connection to the outside world is with us at all times and in the hands of our participants as well. As meeting professionals we need to stay focused on lifelong learning and adapting to the curve balls the world will continue to lob our way. This digital integration of f2f and virtual participation can indeed change the world, one meeting or event at a time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

50 Fun Events Tech Ideas - Almost Live

One of my favorite sessions to deliver is about #eventtech - and this session I originally developed looks at dozens of technologies impacting us. This was done originally last March and changes every single time I deliver it - because technology and how we use it changes constantly.  

For The Special Event in January in Orlando I was unable to attend live - it was just a few days until we opened the #BCTECH Summit - and so I proposed using (gasp!) technology to deliver the session, and they agreed to try it. The team at AV Strategies  took time to shoot, edit and improve the video, and Laura Lopez of Social Tables was our on-site, in-room session leader, ensuring the session was not only informative but interactive.  At the end I joined the session for some live Q and A from home, and overall it was very well received. If you are thinking of alternative ways you can deliver sessions - this might work for you!

The link to the TSE 2016 Session can be found here.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When is Social Media Not Social?

Me and "Speaker Sue" at last meet IRL (oct 2015)
Coffee with my SM Hero Matt Bologna of BizBash

Social Media. Two words. Social is the active part of this combination. Media is a tool. What Jenise Fryatt taught us as #EIR in the early days of learning how to use this twitter tool = Engage, Inform, Retweet.  Engage with people - yes PEOPLE who are actively sharing interesting content and ideas - start and continue conversations because when you meet these people IRL (in real life) you will find yourself with new friends, colleagues and interesting conversations immediately. It is rather awesome the power of online conversations turning into a live, interactive, intelligent conversation, often with a beverage in hand.  (aka why I love IMEX- see previous blog for all the social media friends I have the opportunity to see there!)  

Engage. Note the word being overused - conversation. When Social Media is not social - ie a one - way dumping of information out, it is an advertorial, not social media at its best.  When you are not engaging with other content, or responding to any reaction to your content sharing - you are kind of missing the point - and mostly you are missing the opportunity social media brings - for you personally, for your organization, and especially if you have a small business you are trying to grow.

Inform.  Sharing content without interaction-boring. Sharing content others can interact with - good idea.  Sharing content with #hashtags to create conversation around a topic of interest to many - very good idea.  Being part of a community such as #eventprofs brings rewards, including friendships born out of common interests.  Being part of weekly chats such as #contentchat or #assnchat around topics that affect your professional life -- growth opportunities.  Sharing content you have created - now we are talking!

Retweet. So simple - hit the retweet button and BOOM you are sharing relevant content with those in your community. Add a comment, ask a question, add to the discussion and your impact is growing.  BTW this is the only one of the three that applies to Twitter only  in terminology - every platform has a way to like, share or comment - so consider the platforms that make sense for you and your business, get comfortable with a couple, and get sharing!

Want to learn more? Michelle Bergstein Fontanez joins me via skype to talk Social Media at a live Vancouver ISES meeting soon - join us if you want to delve into personal and business-friendly social media best practices.
ISES Educates November 17

Saturday, October 24, 2015

People Make IMEX-Again

Building hygiene kits with support from Clean the World for Shade Tree - simple, fun and smile-creating!
IMEX has always impressed me because of its "people first" thinking. Yes they are producing arguably one of the largest trade shows for meeting professionals from around the world, but from the beginning they have considered their impact.  It began from the first show with a focus on sustainability, then CSR supporting Shade Tree and this year a focus on wellness was added, supported by thoughtful keynote presentations and a rather awesome meditation room and wellness was suggested as an inclusion on the floor and was brought to life through various booths with support from like-minded exhibitors.

IMEX has also always been technology forward thinking and this year the Pitch Presentations were a highlight, with Loopd taking the prize, awarded by judges who understand the industry.  Once again QuickMobile built the app, and this is a tool I simply cannot imagine being without.

Roger Haskett teaches education through play.
As always, IMEX over-delivered on education, making it simpler to find this year as it was located in one hub at the easy to find Inspiration centre. A highlight was a session on the Power of Play from Roger Haskett of Engagement Unlimited.  I have known Roger for many years, but didn't know his depth of knowledge and passion for this subject, and with a delightful presentation style, he had this audience truly engaged.  Dale Hudson and her team continue to rock it!
Thought leaders Corbin Ball and Martin Sirk

IMEX once again brought the world together, and for me, that means friends from around the world are all in one place and it is a time we can catch up on lives personal and professional as the conversations range from outfits to meeting design, the coolest new toys in tech to how play fits into and enhances learning. The ability to connect like-minded thinkers is always fun to watch.

Another at last IRL Cindy from @redvelvetevents

It was fabulous to follow along with the Event Technology awards, and to be present for the awarding of this prize to CrowdMics. There are so many ways technology is changing how we interact at meetings and it is important we understand the benefits to our participants with so many to choose from. To have time to talk with the creators of these technologies and to hear first hand how they see positive impacts and why they are excited about what they are doing is one of the best reasons to be here.  

On technology, I continue to be impressed with the IMEX Digital initiatives led by Miguel Neves. Supported by the IMEX Social Team with the constant of Gerrit Heijkoop, they have paid attention and evolved year over year to respond to the changing face of technology and how we - the participants - respond to various mediums. From production to curation, they find ways to continue to exceed expectations for how information is shared, and keep it fun, informative and relevant.  An execllent collaboration.

The CIC Hall of Leaders inducted many worthy recipients this year (see list in the link), and it was pure joy to see Amy Spatrisano inducted for her many contributions to the industry - this is a woman who deserves it all! Produced with the MGM Events team and hosted by Laura Schwarz, it sparkled.  

Meeting Speaker Sue at last IRL - while doing art
in the Play Room
I also had time to meet some great new friends and catch up with many others.  David Adler and Brandt Krueger were great GatherGeeks reporters collecting a heap of interviews for this great new podcast and Mike McAllen was holding his own with a ton of great IMEX focused interviews on the inimitable MeetingsPodcast

For sheer fun at an event, Donny Neufuss is always a joy to see with his effervescent personality keeping it real... Fremont Street may never be the same! Glenn Thayer is so fun to walk the floor with as his knowledge of truly improving general sessions and the discussion that ensue continues to inspire me. 

Padraic pre-suitcase catching up!
The next generation, these lovely, smart young women coming up who really get the business of meetings wow me - if these are "millenials" I can't wait to work with them! The short list includes Courtney the Lady Phenomona, Magadalina from Bulgaria, ElizabthB, Emma Parston, AmyfromBC  - all who are so committed to what we do as an industry.  Dan Berger moderated a fantastic panel on how meeting technology and hotels are rapidly adapting and he is always interesting to talk with as Social Tables  has a culture from both a technology and a people place to be is (award winning) incredible and always makes me think. Padraic and Patrick - these Irish meeting and incentive industry legends bring their wisdom, inherent sense of fun and true ability to connect people with them wherever they go - plus they are really smart marketers and event designers - how I enjoy seeing these two - and so fun to finally meet Aiofe Delaney who is a true (millenial) mover and shaker! 

One of the true joys was walking the floor with Janet Elkins of Eventworks - this woman and her passion for events knows no bounds!  A true surprise was @PenthouseLord Jason Scott who I met with Silvia Pellegrini - also IRL for the first time - her depth of curiosity about the industry is something I love. and what EventsUncovered is doing for sharing thought leadership is quite fabulous.

My perennial favorite selfie... with @IMEXRichard

Then they are the many great speakers - and surely I will miss many... Sam Smith is someone else who understands PLAY and interaction and seeing Play with a Purpose partner with Interactive Meeting Technology to bring the Play Room to life for MPI Smart Monday was a total blast.  

Jessie States not only shared great information on the future of the industry but walked miles on a recently broken leg - impressive.  Tyra Hilliard takes the dry and challenging topic of contracts and leaves people smiling and understanding more.  Tracy Stuckrath and her knowledge of all things Food and Beverage truly delights audiences - and they too learn a TON.  So from my perspective... if #IMEX16 is not on your radar - it should be!  It is a place where business is done, and where conversations that enhance your professional knowledge are around every corner.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Anvil Centre Celebrates One Year

The fabulous Mellomanic Band closed the night (the Quayside Singers opened it)
Vali shared stories including the missing kitchen, the 500,000 gallon flood and more 
I don't often write about venues, leaving that to others such as Padraic Gilligan and other well traveled #eventprofs. I have some favorites though, and the Anvil Centre is one of them. This boutique conference centre is in the heart of the Lower Mainland right at the New Westminster Skytrain stop, and includes a beautiful theatre (above), a ballroom and meeting space, shared community space full of learning, art, dance and music, a museum that groups can utilize and a very cool new media digital gallery! These last are open to anyone to visit - check them out if you are in the neighbourhood. 

I have been on multiple hardhat tours, celebrated at the industry opening night one year ago, and this week was honoured to be the MC for the First Anniversary celebration.  This was so fun for me because I really like the team, led by Vali Marling with Sales and Marketing led by the lovely and smart Heidi Hughes who I have known through all the evolutions of our careers, including teaching the same class (and others) at BCIT.  Diane and Colin who are key to the operations I have also worked with in other roles for demanding events in other venues, and even had Colin - keen to understand the meeting planner - take the event management class at BCIT several years ago. There is history here and I know how diligent this team is in ensuring excellent guest experiences.

Then there was the food.  At first, an antipasto platter... a good start. But then, the house-made tuna sushi cones, pulled pork sliders, duck confit on toast, and a delicious spoon of crispy potatoes with a mini poached quail egg and bacon that was rather spectacular began the evening, and to close the night, cake (of course) and gorgeous desserts created on site that day. 

The speeches, short and poignant and funny.  The music, first from Q5 the Quayside Singers, their acapella sound acoustically perfect in this theatre and then the Mellomanic Band fronted by Anvil Centre staff Josh with one of the most versatile bands (they kept changing instrumental places!) with a vocal range that not only astounded the audience, keeping them in the room even as we approached the end of the evening - and they soon had the group up dancing, an unexpected and rather perfect ending to the evening.
I could not resist - Diane all dressed up! I might be in trouble for sharing this but seriously... she is so funny!
Chief Constable Dave Jones spoke of the revitalization of the area, and the delish lemon squares
Hello dessert - thank you for coming!
Need a place to host your event (10 up to 450 ideal) that is easy to get to from across the Lower Mainland, has great food and even greater staff... check them out!

Thanks for including me - I had a blast!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Last Events of Summer 2015

The summer ended with three significant events for me.  After being home for a few days from MPI I headed to Toronto where I was one of the nominees for the Meetings Canada Hall of Fame in the Big Idea Category, and was honoured to join a fantastic group of nominees for a nail-biting (for me) ceremony during IncentiveWorks.  

What was this big idea?  With support from QuickMobile and Sonic Foundry / Mediasite we created a 10-hour Mobile App Certificate which is run as part of the Convention Industry Council's Preferred Partner program.  This program maps the use of mobile apps for meetings back to the CMP domains and shows planners how to truly integrate this now ubiquitous digital tool into the overall meeting design.  I was thrilled to win this category, and the recognition for this small and important program for our industry. In the next few weeks we will see the final results in the magazine.
Drury SummerMash awesomeness

Did I mention the very fabulous Drury SummerMash?   Once again - this was a highlight as they experiment with the latest in experiential awesomeness.

At the end of August I had the opportunity to take my first ever trip to Pittsburgh for the Collinson Media Connect event, and learning more about the Sports Event sector of the industry and delving into the Association mindset was really fun.  As always, a great event from this forward thinking team, a ton of great speakers and friends to see and a city that offered up delicious surprises.  
Fun at Collinson Media Connect

It was also around this time I made the difficult choice to leave the rather fabulous QuickMobile team and join the BC Innovation Council to produce the Inaugural #BCTECH Summit coming to Vancouver in January 2016. Learning more about the fantastic technology that is being developed by uber smart and thoughtful designers, businessmen, solution-seekers, engineers and developers throughout our province is literally blowing my mind.  From wearables designed to save lives, medical technology that allows doctors to get the information they need during surgery without de-gloving, to fantastic applications for forestry, mining, cool VR and AR and so much more is inspiring - and I can't wait to show it off!

Next up is IMEX15 - and I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Friday, September 4, 2015

MPI hits a San Francisco Home Run

Hello MPI, welcome to San Francisco.  Wellness rating 4.8/5.  With a hotel approximately a ten minute walk from Moscone, each day started and ended with relatively fresh air, natural light and exercise, all lovely.  The opening general session began with brunch, and instead of lunch on this day, guests instead at the first break after noon had a selection of light smoothies and salads to carry them through their afternoon sessions.  While unusual, if you had read ahead and were prepared for this it was an experiment that worked.

As you can see to the left they also offered guests emergency information as part of this opening general session and while this is something we see more often at meetings, it was something I saw rarely in the series of meetings I attended this summer. Good job MPI!

As always MPI is an excellent blend of the people we get to see, with thoughtful sessions geared for planners and a willingness to experiment with formats.  As noted above there was brunch, but on the days when lunch was served it too was lightened up with a healthy salad and protein with a side of rolls for those who still wanted their carbs with lunch.  Overall the people I ate with were a-ok to eat on site as they often would at home.

For me, I had anticipated the keynote James Curleigh, the CEO of Levis as I had originally met him in 2010 when we created (at Cantrav) one of the most sustainable, fun and thoughful programs I have had the pleasure to be part of in his previous role. A great memory of this program was my first meeting with JC in the office and understanding how authentically he lives his brand stories and I knew this would have continued at Levis. Indeed he did not disappoint as he shared what they have done with Levis to continue to grow this brand, with its history, into the future.  There were lessons for all here in his message, but also in the way the entire general session was crafted to include the brunch, a "what's in your bag" scavenger hunt where each table worked together with lots of laughs, great music and visuals with RoonieG, Dave Sharpe as the MC, and while it didn't feel contrived, it felt like good organized fun.  This is much harder to achieve than it seemed!

After good learning, another great mobile app experience with QuickMobile, spending time with friends and co-hosting a very fun evening at Urban Putt for local and MPI guests with our fabulous partners-in-fun Sonic Foundry and PRG it was time to wrap it all up.

As MPI celebrated with Guy Fieri and the Jersey Boys the decision to go in June 2016 to Atlantic City, what happened with spontaneous dancing in the aisles could again not have been scripted but absolutely added to the joie de vivre of this event.  With a wrap up at City Hall they again reminded MPI members and guests why this is one of the must-attend events each year for our industry!

The audience joins the lunch tim