Monday, October 24, 2016

IMEX16 Full of Nice Memories

When you go to your boss with a conference program in hand, you sell your attendance based on the content available which you promise to return to your organization with, bringing new tools and ideas to your work and your team.

For participation in an exhibition you are selling the possibilities of sales, at the show and in the future as the supplier. As the planner we like to attend because when we meet people face to face in dedicated B2B meetings we have the opportunity to exchange real information and to build trust in those who would deliver the event in our selected destinations and venues.

Why you return a second, third or in the case of IMEX a sixth time it is because of the connections you make. Through hosted and planned meetings to serendipitous aisle-way meet-ups to the many evening events that take place, both hosted and buy-in (often supporting a variety of initiatives), the people you meet and the conversations you have will always bring a new perspective. 

It is also a friendly event, and this is important because most of us have some level of introspectiveness, some anxiety of meeting new people and some level of effort required to maintain momentum over a multi-day event of meeting new people, and when there is a friendliness inherent in the overall event - it makes it easier. This may sound trite, but it is not, and requires a conscious effort in the planning and community building which happens year-round. Don't underestimate "nice" - the world could use more of it!

It is a place of connecting
  1. In-session actionable learning with both general sessions and sector - specific sessions including corporate, association, future leaders, sustainability, and faculty (to name a few!) which is relevant, current and can be applied when you return.
  2. To destinations that understand meetings and incentives and can speak intelligently about how theirs fits your needs - and with 157 destinations on the floor this is truly the place to find where you could take your events.
  3. To the latest trends in all areas with knowledge gained in the Inspiration Hub, the Playroom, in group meetings in the various booths, in tours conducted to experience event technology and innovation, and even the fabulous meditation room. By seeing what is being shown and how it is being shown in ways that are useful to your clients we all take away new, actionable ideas.
  4. To sustainable thinking, the list of initiatives keeps growing and many of these ideas can be easily implemented at any event.
  5. To global thought leaders across all sectors. In the pictures above there are meeting planners, event producers, company owners, faculty, event tech leaders, sustainability experts, and those working in sales, procurement, venue management, hybrid events and creating learning environments. In all cases these are people I can turn to when I need key information on any subject related to our industry, and really these are just a few of the people I connected with over the course of IMEX16!
  6. To leaders and their successes. The Convention Industry Council Hall of Leaders and Pacesetters recipients were and are all amazing, hard-working, humble and kind. Leaders indeed.
  7. To business. Ultimately every investment of your resources must lead to this, and when you bring the world together, business happens.
As always, I return home full of ideas I can implement, and wrapped in the warmth of friends, collaborators and colleagues from around the world, looking forward to returning again to continue the growth. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Using Our Time for IMPACT

A real "week in the life"
The life of an #eventprof (event professional) is ALWAYS busy. Work, life, taking care of family and self, unrealistic deadlines, it all adds up to a calendar that looks something like this. Add in travel to events you are producing, speaking at or learning at, or maybe even "sneaking in" a vacation and it comes back to being busy, tired, and even burnout.

So what if we measured time not by busy-ness but by impact. If I consider even the week above - a recent week - there was as you can see only a small amount of time left to do "real work" outside of meetings. Of course the small open spaces you see were used for answering the seemingly endless emails we all receive, most that allow us to keep moving work forward. But, we made huge progress on the #BCTECH Summit program by using meetings to consult with industry, researchers and stakeholders who are vested in the education we will be offering that will be relevant, forward thinking and actionable. IMPACT. We met with groups who can support our marketing initiatives to more deeply and broadly share the why of participating in the Summit - because we know the success from last year with conversations that led to conversions and this needs to be shared.

The big block you see at the end of the week was a soccer tournament to raise money for KidsUpFront that BCIC placed a team in. When they needed more girls to play I was ready to jump in - and voluntold Julia since I have never played - a classic Mom move. This was fun to watch and raised money for a great cause. IMPACT.

I have just packed and am ready to head for four days at IMEX16 where I will spend some time leading tours through the event technology space, sharing the possibilities with meeting planners who are seeking solutions that will make their work more efficient or productive, that will provide useful data for building and designing their meetings, IMPACT. Oh and also a lot of fun as I know already I am heading into hours of great conversations about how meeting professionals are changing lives one meeting at a time.

So the next time someone asks you how it's going - don't reply with "so busy" instead think about how many lives you have impacted - through dollars raised, food or waste diverted, knowledge shared, or inspiration provided.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Events with Purpose...Because it Makes Sense

Events with Purpose. Meetings with Heart. Sustainable Meetings and Events. These are all the articles we see now, as our industry collectively shifts to keep up with what our consumers, our event participants are demanding.

Welcome to the Night Circus. This net-zero event in 2014 saw 1,200
dancing the night away to local performers bringing a story alive.
Produced by Kelly Aleda while we were at Cantrav.
Perhaps I am naive, or perhaps I was lucky enough to have my event roots in Vancouver, and that my "anchor" events, my first two large-scale events where I did my most rapid growing and deepest learning - had these values embedded. We started working on both of these in 1993, and the first was GLOBE 94 - "Global Opportunities for Business and the Environment" which was and still is one of the largest events focused on cleantech and sustainable thinking as a core business value, across all sectors. From waste management to recycled paper, and recycling everything, thought was given to all we produced and end-to-end use.

In 1995 we worked with the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), the Vancouver Convention Centre and several local chapters of the major meeting and event planning associations to write the first Green Meetings Guide for the city. With the Vancouver Convention Centre now being a LEED Platinum Building and Vancouver working towards being the Greenest city in the world by 2020, sustainable living, and by extension meetings - well, it's just how we roll.

In 1996 I was part of the incredible team that brought the XI International Conference on AIDS, with the overarching theme of One World, One Hope to life. From planning for simple, nutritious meals and a medical centre for the 1,500 participants living with HIV/AIDS to the process for ensuring the highest level of education for the 13,000+ medical practitioners who attended from around the globe - no stone in inclusive planning was left unturned. This was a feat accomplished by hundreds, and included technical groundwork such as laying new T1 lines to broadcast the information to a wider audience - the early days of "hybrid"! We spent days educating the many who would touch the lives of our participants during event setup, operation and dismantling - and were scared in doing so they would catch AIDS - they would not. 

When I think of these and so many other associations, topics and forward thinking corporations I have worked with to create sustainable, stunning, experiential events that have led to new knowledge imparted, collaborations strengthened, deals made, and friendships built, I know that we have always considered the objectives and created spaces that allow these to happen. Meet with purpose... yes. Let's keep doing this.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

EventTech is Here to Stay

A Limbic Media social rainbow - connecting participants one disk at a time.
Keeping Up is Hard!
Two years ago I wrote about digital fludity and what this means as we plan events.  While there are many very cool ways we are embedding technology into events - from holograms to robot concierges, wayfinding and crowd management, multi-projections and multiple live streams, the ubiquitous mobile apps and their ever expanding capabilities, and so much more - the learning is never-ending

Join Me for Tours at IMEX16
One of the many things I appreciate about attending IMEX is the sheer volume of relevant and current knowledge as they listen to what participants want and need to know more about right now. At IMEX October 18-20th I will be leading EventTech tours which will begin at the Media Centre multiple times throughout the three days - join us and hear from five different types of event technology companies (each tour is different) and their thoughts on the future of event planning and the technology supporting these changes. On Tuesday and Wednesday you can augment these tours with Innovation Tours led by Glenn Thayer at alternate times. A great way to learn quickly more about what is going on right now - ideas and tools you can take away.

If you really want to see what's next - check out the IMEX Pitch Competition.

Why We Need to Keep Up
In this recent post for Event Manager Blog I looked at The Attendee of the Future and what this means to how we need to plan events now. Fundamentally our expectations have shifted and our collective audiences now expect to receive information in the way they want it - paper, desktop, and mostly, mobile. As planners we also want (need) to be able to work any place and in any time zone, and with as little paper to carry around as humanly possible. We can do initial site inspections as virtual walk-throughs, and manage our clients' needs 24/7 with the cloud based tools available. Then we add Facetime to talk to our families and sleep and fitness apps to help keep us on track as we attempt to find balance! It's all digital, all the time!

As event professionals we know technology is not going anywhere except deeper into our lives and those of our participants. It is exciting - and I look forward to learning more along with all of you!