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Sunday, October 19, 2014

IMEX - My People

Let me begin this post by stating categorically, I will forget someone, and this is not with intention. It also only notes people who I saw this year, and not those who were missing (Padraic and Patrick, Midori and many more). The reason we want to go to IMEX is for the face to face connections. Those that happen due to the appointments and the serendipitous aisle and networking function spottings which often lead to great conversations, and the inspiration to be found in both expected and unexpected places. Here are a few of my favs from this year.

BTW - this is LONG - so pull up a beverage, and think about who you want to add, and please comment and add!

Ray Bloom and Carina Bauer have been integral to the success that was first IMEX Frankfurt and is now both this and IMEX America. I deeply appreciate that at the beginning and the end of each show, Ray is omnipresent saying welcome and thank you to all.  It is this warmth and interest that extends throughout his team.

QuickMobile and Lumi support MPI Foundation!
QuickMobile is the amazing team I have most recently joined and one I am enjoying being part of. Yes, we build the app for IMEX, and I think it is pretty special in terms of what it provides to participants. As a meeting planner, seeing how this team seeks first to understand needs and to determine what elements of a mobile event app will be most useful to deliver information and create adoption leading to participation is a source of joy. All members from the Dev team to support and release, QA and project managers and those of us attend the events and those in the office that support all the functions - it is a full bodied team effort. 
To be successful today requires deep and seamless integrations based on understanding what will make meetings more meaningful and can be delivered well. With the smart innovations we have with Lumi (some of the great people above) it is one example where we have a deep integration that works because of a shared interest in meetings, and also in having fun, something critical to being successful in this demanding industry. I have met many, and am impressed with all.

Glenn Thayer The Voice of Meetings and Events 
@TahiraCreates: Yep that's real @glennthayer #IMEX14 Best mc in the industry!
Claire Smith is the VP, Sales and Marketing at the Vancouver Convention Centre and she has been an inspiration to me since I did my Event and Convention Management Diploma Practicum (planning the 2nd Annual Partners in Professional Planning conference) a good number of years ago. Claire was also on the committee when we produced the Welcome Reception on their stunning plaza for the MPI WEC in 2010 - when I felt we had come full circle in my chosen profession.  To hear her excitement in discussing her day with the Future Leaders Forum reminded me of the passion she carries still for our industry and her unending fascination with the shifts and trends we face.

Mike McAllen was one of the first people I met through the EventProfs community, and not only is he a honey of a guy, Grassshack Road Productions is a thoughtful production agency, and their AV for Planners offer to help planners better assess AV for their meetings is one of the most interesting tools produced to date.  Mike is also the reason we held EventCamp Vancouver which had a profound positive impact on my life - I always enjoy seeing him.

Mariela McIlwraith is a leader in sustainability, having co-authored with Elizabeth Henderson Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics in the Meetings Industry, a surprisingly easy read for a dense subject and the book I now use when I teach Sustainable Event Management at BCIT.  This 30 hour course provides a strong base for the students to filter their events through a triple bottom line model of people, planet and profit.  She more recently was the Executive Editor of the ninth edition of the Convention Industry Council manual. This is the key study guide for the CMP and I am proud to have been one of the many contributors to this, with its focus on strategy and sustainability weaving together seamlessly with logistics. More importantly, she stands true to all she believes and who she is, and I always enjoy catching up with her to see what is on the horizon.

Paul Salinger is a shining example of bringing sustainability to an organization, and his work with GMIC over the years has pushed the industry in ways we can embrace.  Plus, he is humble, fun and kind - and gives a mean pecha kucha! 

Embedded image permalinkDr Tyra Hilliard and Jessie States provided one of the best hours of the conference for me in a rather impromptu meeting. They are brilliant, dedicated, funny and true examples of doing what you believe in for your best life. Experts in risk and contracts (Tyra) and meeting design (Jessie) among other things - these educators, best in class speakers and brilliant women are included in those I look forward to seeing time and again. Plus when Mary Boone tweets that she wants to join the party - you know this is a group of power women!

Lenny Talarico is a multi talented man who is a key part of the MGM Events team (yes King I missed you this year).  I met Lenny my first year at IMEX and over the years my fondness grows - he is a true professional, a creator, a performer who understands performance, an ISES mentor and CSEP, and their team is always willing to give back - including these gorgeous arrangements at the FRESH dinner on Tuesday night. 

Brennan McReynolds provided one of my highlights of the week when another tech firm did not recognize the EventFarm brand and I was treated to a most excellent repartee which included alpacas and holsteins among other animal friends.  Thank you for that! I first met Brennan at PCMA Convening Leaders this year when he used his other skill set to help planners figure out ways to add more health and fitness to their busy lives in an activation with the Vancouver booth there. What I learned is that he knows a lot about my favorite subject - the intersection of humans and technology to improve meeting experiences. 

The IMEX team members have proven themselves year-over-year to be willing to challenge themselves. First with education, Dale Hudson and her team have selected excellent programming, and then have created a warm and easy atmosphere for the speakers. Richard Allchild and Achilleas have been my main contacts throughout the years I have been coming to IMEX and every interaction has been professional and productive, with a little bit of good humour along the way. Suzanne Medcalf showed her good sportsmanship riding the bike with us in Vancouver last year, and has once again proven her teamwork and enjoyment in the job this year through a number of interactions.  Miguel Neves has brought new meaning to the social and online communities that make up IMEX, and his impact is not going unnoticed. We had occasion to have an in-depth conversation with him at MPI WEC and his view of the industry at large, the role associations play, and the impact the business of meetings has globally is refreshing and clear.

BTW Richard - my final day selfie with you had 11 retweets, to a mere 4 of me *in bed* with @MeetMrHolland.

Tech Start Up Competition - results link. What is new is a key part of any great event and this year judges included Miguel Neves, Senior Online Community Manager at IMEX Group; Julius Solaris of Event Manager blog; Dahlia El Gazzar, CEO of the Meeting Pool; Liz King CEO of Liz King Events and Brandt Krueger, tech whiz and an industry instructor who translates geek to I get it.  An excellent group all around and people I consider a key part of understanding how the many faces of technology are rapidly impacting our events.

Speaking of tech... Social Tables have continued to grow their team from their CEO Dan Berger to include a team of smart people who understand the role they have to play in creating the software for floor plans that will change the way we can choose to design our experiences. I always enjoy time spent learning (and in witty banter).  

Campfire Boxes...
Maarten Van Neste and Dominika Fudula were there with the Meeting Design Institute banner flying high, but their role in the industry goes deep and wide. I consider myself creative, and I have lost many nights to thinking about better ways to design meetings and events but Maarten makes me look as if I never had a new idea. I appreciate this as it pushes me, and the ideas he shares, and the way he shares them continues to push us forward. I like that. 

It was great to spend some time with my Event Alley co-host Brandt Krueger (Lindsey was too busy to join us) and there are a number of people we interviewed on the Event Alley Show this year I had the chance to meet face-to-face, including Sam from Song Division along with his smartly down-to-earth boss Andy who were also a part of the CIC Hall of Leaders Gala, Jeff Leggett, the CEO of ICCA Martin Sirk, and Julius Solaris.

Kiki L‘Italien. I always enjoy seeing live the lovely Kiki.  She again conducted (for the fourth year) interviews from the Vancouver Booth at IMEX.  Known as a creator of extraordinary member experiences for associations, her forward thinking mindset combined with her fantastic attitude always make her a pleasure to be around. Her ability to share knowledge and to connect through warmth and empathy for the challenges we face, combined with a deep understanding of the modern tools to do this makes her an important voice in our industry.

Gerritt Heijkoop - when you open this site you will see it is in Dutch but when you meet Gerritt, or hear him speak it is easy to forget that English is not his first language. (note the Google translation is imperfect and often a little funny but I do not think he would even mind). You might notice his kinda famous red sneakers. I had not seen a presentation for a while from Gerritt, and the engagement from the audience was simply off the charts - which is a great thing in a sea of speakers!  What I really appreciated was his philosophy of which translates to every day being a little bit different than the day before, and often different than you might have expected. I think many of us in this industry can relate to this! For IMEX he was brought in to support the social media experience (extraordinary) and is often seen as a host or doing interviews, a nice repertoire to include when you need to add a little bit (or more) of energy to your events.

And now... I rest and go to be woken in the middle of the night with those I missed!

Please add comments with your favorite people or moments or the posts you have done too following another amazing and intense show.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

IMEX14 - The Beginning

I love when Padraic Gilligan does his recaps of shows and I will attempt to do him justice with my own reflections on my experiences at IMEX America this year.

For the past three years I have had the great pleasure of supporting the Vancouver team in their booth, and this year, we focused on creating a more usable space (with the talented team at Cantrav) and I think we not only accomplished that but created visual impact worthy of this very fantastic show.  While I have transitioned this as I changed jobs, it was bittersweet to do so, and I may have stopped by more than once to visit.

Last year QuickMobile had a fantastic space filled with iPads and sportily dressed staff rocking the colors and sharing information in their inimitable style. This year we opted to invite people into a relaxed atmosphere where they could learn more about mobile with us, enjoy a foot massage handily placed under the table during their meeting, and have a respite from the busy space all around us.  Of course, we have to focus on technology, so in addition to demos, they could also see our newest social capture tool Concerto tracking Twitter activity on the screen, or check out the Augmented Reality built into the pictures on the back wall. That is right, the ARt (blown-up covers from our most recent resources designed for meeting planners) was really AR!
this portion of the booth featured Augmented Reality fun
Anne Thornley Brown as always shared her best booths of the show, and we have to say while it is impossible to choose only a few, she has chosen some excellent pavilions. 

This of course all happened before opening day, much as the great IMEX America app was launched and the excitement begins before we arrive as appointments are made, the floor plan is explored, we see who is going to be there and we procure tickets for the evening events including perhaps the CIC Hall of Leaders Gala, SITE Nite, the FRESH dinner, MPI Foundation Rendezvous and so many other events that take place throughout.

When I joined QuickMobile it was because I love the intersection of human needs and mobile technology, and to see the intuitiveness, interaction and analytics which will now facilitate a year-round community for IMEX Exhibitions - that is what makes my job interesting.  I cannot wait to see what next year brings.

ps. there is a LOT more to talk about so watch for other posts to come! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Event Alley Fun

Content. 48 hours of content uploaded every hour. How do you possibly find that all important "Context" within the Content? Finding what is relevant for you, relevant for your industry is a challenge. I am a voracious consumer of content and always have been, so when I was invited to be part of Event Alley Show this year, I thought it seemed like a great idea.
Lindsey preps for a live show
at MPI WEC this year.

So far, so good!  The Event Alley Show guests are what define the show, and we have had some amazing people join us including most recently Evan Greene, the CMO of The Recording Academy (the Grammys), Simon T. Bailey, Julius Solaris, David Merrell and Chad Kaydo on trends and the business of design, Ruud Janssen and Roel Friessen discussing Event Model Generation and so many more.  We have also done live episodes from PYM Meetings, MPI WEC and the IRF Annual Invitational.  Explore and see what you can find!

We also occasionally do audio only Show Plus episodes and have talked with Roger Simons of MCI about event sustainabiliity, Andrew Walker about MPI's CSR initiatives and King Dahl about large scale events, among others, and I enjoy hearing what these smart people have to share with us.  In teaching Sustainable Event Operations at BCIT earlier this year I used a number of the interviews - with Shawna McKinley, Mariela McIlwraith, Karen Swim (PR) and Michele Sarkisian (EPCAT and human trafficking) as we explored the people - planet - profit impacts of events and meetings.

We have recently updated our playlists and the range of subjects from Technology to Event Design to Sustainable and Responsible Meetings provides excellent listening no matter where you play in the meeting and event space.

I definitely have some favorite episodes - but encourage you to check out our YouTube channel for the videos, or Event Alley Show on iTunes or Stitcher if listening podcast style fits your life better. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Event Model Generation

Tahira and Ruud at MPI WEC in Minneapolis 2014
Does your meeting planning team struggle with getting buy-in? Do you wrestle with dreaming up new ideas for your events?  What if there was a tool that fostered open discussion, encouraged creativity and still focused on meeting your business objectives?

I began my exploration of meeting design and how it can change the parameters of how people meet and more importantly what they get out of it several years ago. I have continued to enjoy the evolution, which for me led to co-authoring this chapter in the ninth edition of the CIC Manual, collaborating on EventCamp Vancouver and meeting people from around the world who share my passion.

As we delve into human nature, environment creation, presentation delivery and interaction based on neuroscience to increase engagement, analytics and return on investment of meetings, it always comes back to objectives before design.  There is always a challenge to derive the objectives and create an easy to understand story to present to your stakeholders about how you will use a meeting (or incentive event) to fulfill these objectives.

During this journey of learning I came across TNOC and the smart, forward thinking Ruud Janssen. About two years ago Ruud introduced me to the book Business Model Generation, a pre-cursor to what has now become his newest venture with Roel Friessen Event Model Generation.   This is a process which encapsulates all the information you want to collect about your event and its reasons for being and KPIs, and allows you to put it together in a simple visual presentation to share with your stakeholders. This is an incredibly simplified explanation, and because they are REALLY good at telling their own story please see this link for more detailed information.

Why do I think this is cool enough to write about?  There is always a need to be able to explain why an event is the best choice - whether as a marketing tool, a sales driver, a fundraiser or as the best way to deliver content and networking connections to your stakeholders, vendors and participants as examples. In 20+ years of producing meetings and events "EMG" is the best tool I have seen for getting everyone on what is now literally "the same page" - a one - page concept for success.  I have gone through this process on smaller events and have found it very useful - I can only imagine if this was enterprise-wide how impactful it can be to consistency in storytelling through your event touchpoints!  I am excited to see them bringing this to America at what is arguably the biggest industry experience of the year (IMEX).  Yes there is a cost for this, as they have assessed a value for the content you will return to your organization with, and is reflective of the time spent bringing this to fruition, and the expertise of the presenters in delivery.  In an industry where we often don't pay speakers (and we are not alone) and at a show with a focus on a hosted buyer program there are risks in this and I applaud all the organizations who will take risks for quality education.  

Registration information for the Las Vegas event 

ps There is a good chance they will show up with Swiss Chocolate. (hint hint)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stronger Together

Over the last few weeks I have had several encounters that have left me thinking a lot about our industry and what it means to the people who work so hard in it, and what it takes to do what we do.  Above is a picture from our team on the final day of the opening of the Port of Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal (2007/PRIME). This event crossed four levels of government and many private entities and a small team of dedicated planners before and an awesome team on-site to deliver this important event to 600 dignitaries during the day and 4,000 people from the town (of 12,000) in the evening. On the last day we all donned the glam gear above and cleaned up the 10 acre site. Nodody was too important.

Last night we saw the movie The Hundred Foot Journey, a story that speaks of family, friendship, overcoming challenges and understanding triumph and how it comes in many forms. (loved it) At an early point in the film the lead character, a cook asks an aspriring chef from across the street for help. "You could recommend a book", he says.  "Why would I do that? You are now the enemy." 

I believe in our industry that each of us - whether it is restaurants, hotels, DMCs, DMOs, tech suppliers (AV, reg, mobile, streaming, etc.), catering, transportation, decor / floral, event management / agencies and others compete against each other on a daily basis in our own categories. Concurrently we work together in associations (MPI, IRF, PCMA, ISES, SITE, IAEE, ASAE etc), on city-wide bids and on events that require more than one thing to happen - so all of them. We are in this together, and understanding that at any time you may require cooperation and partnership becomes a critical piece of being successful in our business in my mind.

At many shows we attend we are separated between planner and supplier, the distinction being planners buy and suppliers sell. For clarification, heading into my 22nd year in the industry, I am now a "Supplaner"' meaning I am the meeting planner for a supplier organization after 20+ years as a planner and producer for PCOs, Incentive agencies and DMCs. As enterprise or association planners, nearly every event we do supports selling - sales incentive trips, national sales conferences, sales and service training sessions, client dinners, board meetings and events... each of these is designed to support the selling of your service or product.  When we exhibit at trade shows we never know who will buy or recommend what we do, and every touchpoint has to be a positive interaction which ideally creates a memorable moment.  

In each job (including my current role) I have had direct responsibility or influence over significant travel and meeting spend, but now I am seen as "the enemy" by other suppliers, and was evidenced at a recent event where I was not allowed something due to the word "supplier" on my badge.  This took me back to planning EventCamp Vancouver where the committee decided specifically at the request of one smart person  who asked if our badges could include name, twitter handle and maybe something we were passionate about instead of name and organization. Their request came because they didn't want to be judged as they were in between jobs. They were coming to learn and connect, and appearing to be job-hungry wasn't how they wanted to be perceived. We agreed. 

At another event this week, Drury Design Summer School, I thought the badge they used (at right) really showed the possibilities. This invitation only event was incredible to be part of as they bring together their key clients, their staff, their contract staff and their suppliers into the same room with tracks for learning /training and production / engagement with compelling keynotes for all. To introduce an end client to a supplier they could contact directly shows their deep level of understanding relationships built on trust and integrity which have led to 33 years of success in an industry which has become increasingly challenging. Their team members and clients understand roles and responsibilities and trust, and what they bring to the table in terms of understanding objectives, creativity, imagination and innovation is what makes this work. This event was inspiring on many levels - the use of space, the openness of the concept and the ability for people to actively engage in learning formally and informally, and connecting over the 10 hours together, the endless healthy food and beverage so guests could refortify at the time they needed to, the embedded sustainability and the showcasing of technology (including a helpful app) which was so thoughtfully able to be used at meetings had my mind reeling with possibilities.  As I tweeted - although I am a creative and technology forward planner - I felt as though I had been living in a cave!

This coming week I will be at two events in LA, both which require strong partnerships, trust and forward thinking teams of people to bring alive.  If you want to learn more about how mobile and location based technology is changing events, QuickMobile is hosting a lunch catered by Wolfgang Puck inside of the fabulous AOO space in Hollywood.  Kudos to Dave Merrell and his team for understanding we are all in this to be better and learn holistically about making meetings the best they can be using all the tools available. They are another shining example of giving back to the industry with deep participation in ISES and a willingness to share best practices. August 13th - RSVP link  And yes, this one has an app!

On Thursday, August 14th it is all about BizBash as we do another LA Planathon. BizBash has been a go-to resource for me for many years, and their generosity of spirit in mentorship, a love of social physics and a deep understanding we get better by improving idea flow make these a true pleasure to be at. This one is almost sold out as I write this and I look foward to both of these for very different reasons. Yes, this one has an app too!

At MPI WEC last week Mike Dominguez of MGM was thanked for his time in the Chairman role and MPI introduced the lovely Fiona Pelham as incoming 2015 Chair. Lovely... yes, this is the word to describe the person who is smart and business savvy, who has sustainability ingrained into the core of her business and life, and who understands that together we are stronger. I look foward to the positive impact she will have. I would also like to give a shoutout to Mike Dominguez for his ongoing contributions to education and empowerment in our indutry and also to the events team at MGM led by King Dahl, and supported by fantastic people like Lenny Talarico - every single person I have met from this team (and there are a lot of them) has been consistently warm, professional, willing to share information and ideas and who also understand that every interaction matters. 

Did I mention this one also had an app? QuickMobile worked again with MPI to deliver an app that allowed this event to be the first paperless WEC and that was pretty cool to see. They also created an excellent CSR day with six different projects, and Andrew Walker or MPI beamed through the day. Kevin Kirby, current chair, and described to me in such glowing terms by a former colleague I expected him to float (dignity, kindness, integrity all words used) was present throughout at various events and he too is someone who understands sustainability starts with taking care of people and builds.

Until the next time we meet...or meet for the first time... stay friendly and have fun!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Networking Love

In a recent post by Dan Berger, CEO of Social Tables  he talks about what we can learn from Latin American meetings, and he is so right - so I am going to head to MPI WEC tomorrow and do what I can to do some network - busting and make new friends. Who is in with me? 

You will be able to follow the twitter feed, or if you are at the event check out the picture gallery in the app as we share pictures of friends old and new sharing what we know will be great experiences - let's rock this!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Grocery stores and Trade Shows

QuickMobile team prepping for a day at IMEX Frankfurt
What do grocery stores, trade shows and airports have in common? The more shows I go to, the more travel I do, the more it strikes me that there are many common elements to the experiences, which I share my first thoughts below.

  1. They are all places with a LOT of people, some there by choice, some by necessity.
  2. Traffic flow has to be thought out ahead of time and managed on a daily, or even hourly basis.
  3. Music adds more to the experience than announcements.
  4. The biggest companies get the prime real estate.  (do you know the premium for having your product beside a check-out stand?)
  5. They SHOULD all have wi-fi!  (and often don’t)
  6. They are full of possibilities.  
    1. If you are in an airport you are either going somewhere or meeting someone, both are opening up experiences you may not have otherwise.
    2. If you are at a trade show you are likely going to see people you know, meet with organizations you are aware of, and find new partners you could work with or new people you can collaborate with.
    3. If you are in a grocery store, you may be there planning a dinner party or deciding how you will eat this week – will it be white wine and popcorn, a brown rice cleanse or perhaps steak and red wine on Saturday night?  
I really love all of the above experiences. I like the planning , I don’t even mind standing in line and imagining what all the people around me are there for – What are they buying? Did they really think those shoes made sense for this? Why did they come?  Is their anticipation of the experience being met?  

The next time you are heading out to any of the above… tell me what you look forward to, or what really makes you crazy!