Friday, May 25, 2012

Get Your Green On Wins Green Award at IMEX

One of the things I am most proud of professionally is the successful collaboration that was EventCamp Vancouver. There are so many committed, fantastic, smart people and so many great moments that made up this experience it is hard for me to articulate the positive, warm and hopeful feelings its production generated.  While the white paper discusses the elements that went into the meeting design, it does not capture the emotion or commitment of everyone who touched it.

One of the areas that was the most fascinating to see come to life was the Get Your Green On game layer we developed with QuickMobile, with the content by Shawna McKinley of MeetGreen and Judy Kucharuk of Footprint Management Systems.  When I received an elated phone call from the IMEX Frankfurt show floor this week to hear from Shawna that this had just won the IMEX Green Commitment to the Community Award for this year, I could not have been more proud, or more thrilled to see this work recognized. It is important because as an industry we need to keep up with what is happening in the world around us and this was such an excellent example of using technology in a way that was familiar to many (and new to some) to show how we can take small, continuous steps to greater sustainability at our events, in conjunction with each and every supplier and participant. I believe that in order to have the brightest future for meetings, embracing the capabilities of technology to actively share content and build connections is critical, and this was such a good example.

Not only was the game thoughtfully developed, their subsequent presentation at GMIC and the white paper are a great case study for meeting and event professionals.  I am honoured to call these professionals my collaborators and friends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A conference misses the mark... again

We recognize people attend conferences for two main reasons. Call it what you like - knowledge and relationships; learning and networking; sharing information and meeting others with a similar interest (work or life). Meeting professionals and their committees spend lots of time on choosing the destination, developing a program, marketing, managing sponsor relationships, possibly working with a trade show component, sorting all the logistics from transportation to food, signage to audio visual, decor and entertainment, and ensuring the host / board expectations are met.

What remains the missed element? The guest experience.

I remain optimistic that the industry will continue to shift, as we understand more about how people like to engage, that they attend meetings for face-to-face time, that there are many ways to deliver knowledge and have participants feeling richer for the experience. We have just spent three days on a site inspection nailing down the details of a meeting where it is critical to the client that people leave with that feeling, and that we take advantage of the location, and that time for talking is part of the experience. Leaving this destination, and on my first shorter leg of my flights home, I found myself seated between two gentlemen that had just attended the same meeting. Here follows a sampling of what was shared of their experience.

What they said: "Dinner last night was really good. Did you even want any breakfast today?"
My first thought: Yep, if we stuff them at the gala they will remember that!

What they said: "There were some very thought provoking presentations. I don't know what I learned, but I do have some things to think about."
What I heard: The presenters talked AT their audiences and did not give time for discussion or assimilation.

(said) "I know, and it was so busy running between places I never had time to really think about it, but I know there will some things I want to take back to my team."
(I thought) They wanted to make sure the program was really full of good things so it was easier to market / had so much to fit in we had to cut into the break time

(said) "You know it is too bad we didn't have more time to talk at the conference, this was really interesting. Even though you were sitting across the table from me at dinner last night, it was too far for a discussion.
(thought) Yes, we did it again, closed with a gala dinner where you can talk to exactly the two people beside you!

DId this conference meet their expectations? I am sure it met some and even exceeded some of their expectations. They both seemed to feel their trip was worthwhile, and that they would return to the next meeting of this organization. Was there anything wrong with this model that was followed? Not especially, but there is so much room for improvement if we consider how people learn, and provide opportunities for connections that are broader than a seated dinner with entertainment. Each time there is a meeting such as this, that is perfectly ok if not outstanding, we reinforce this model, and we deliver the expected experience.
What could be done to make this go from good to great? In my opinion only
  1. a balance of presentations that allows for time to discuss and assimilate within the sessions - recognize attendees are also experts and share their knowledge too.
  2. allow more free time, knowing people will mainly use this for discussion with others and have those critical hallway conversations
  3. serve nutritious and delicious food in appropriate quantities and at times that allow participants to maintain a steady stream of energy for long days of meeting and thinking and participating
What else would you add?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

48 Flights

Today, Mother's Day 2012 I find myself alone for the first time on Mother's Day, beginning a site visit in gorgeous Charlevoix, Quebec and with a few minutes to reflect on how lukcy I am to live my life always returning to the safe "love bubble" (my daughter's term) of my family. While I am alone today, this past week we had the opportunity to travel again as a family, and my children at 12 and 13 counted all the flights they had ever been on.

Statistics to date
  • 48 flight segments
  • 1 cruise ship
  • 1 major train trip
  • 5 countries, numerous provinces and states
  • 3 walled cities
  • 1 Great wall
  • 2 major oceans from various vantage points
  • numerous hotels from "family" style to condos, b & b to 5 star luxury as well as many friend's homes (our favorite)
  • 2 awesome theme parks
  • numerous historic sites from Versailles to Tulum, Xian to Washington DC and many more in between
Travel today is as accessible as it is ever likely to be, given the numerous methods available, the speed and global opportunities, and what we will look back on in 50 years as the amount of fuel available to travel with at a relatively low cost. As a meeting / event professional it is my work that has led us to many of these places, and while the challenges have been many, the rewards and frienships even greater.

We are so fortunate to be able to offer our children the opportunity to see the world and to learn from its cultures and history and look forward to sharing even more of it with them. Whenever I return from a working journey tired... exhausted... exhilarated, I only need to reflect on how fortunate we are to be able to have collaborators and friends around the world that we can share life, work and fun with to be able to get up and do it all over again.  Thank you to all of you who have shared this with us. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

VOTE to help someone who helps themself

This is a letter I am posting anywhere I think it will reach out and help an amazing couple. Please click on the link at the bottom - it takes 30 seconds of your time and will make an immense difference to an amazing family. Read on....
Yesterday it came to my attention via a colleague that there is an opportunity for Fiona and Dean to obtain a wheelchair equipped van, and I felt compelled to weigh in on why I think they deserve this. I had the opportunity to meet Fiona and Dean at the wedding of her sister, in Mexico in November 2009. We live in the same area of North Delta, and we have children of a similar age, and I have never been more impressed and more humbled by any people I have had the opportunity to spend time with. Our family is very fortunate to have two able bodied children, who at 11 and 13 can take care of all their own basic needs. Fiona and Dean’s children, Kiarra and Rylan are lovely children who will never be able to care for themselves, and the inclusive lifestyle their parents offer them is awe-inspiring. While many people in this situation may have balked at even just the packing of the special items required for a week away, they instead embraced the experience, and along with the family and friends, everyone participated in all activities, from taking the children into the ocean for swimming (they love the water), in group meals, although they both need someone to feed them, and in all social activities shared with the group. Kiarra and Rylan love music and others around were often found singing to them, or playing music, and being able to enjoy this together was special. The care required is continuous and their obvious love for each other and their children creates a glow that emanates to those around them.

While Dean works full-time, Fiona each day takes her children to school, to therapeutic horseback riding and to other activities that will allow them to continue to learn and grow. However, as they grow, the burden of carrying them and caring for them simply must be more difficult as they near her own size, and the ability to have them in their wheelchairs and not have to continually carry them in and out as she transports them from place to place, would be an immense support for her.
Not only is she caring for her own children, she truly cares for the community. As a small example when she knew a child slightly younger than my daughter who attends the same school as her children was in need of clothes, she called to ask if I had any that my daughter had outgrown, and then came and picked them up and took them to the child in need. Her thoughtfulness for others extends far and wide. She is also now in the position of assisting in care for her aging parents, and again each time she goes to help, this van would assist in taking their grandchildren to visit. 

Fiona would never consider herself a hero. She considers herself a mother, wife, sister and friend. Her spirit and sense of humour are always intact, and I simply cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of support.