Strategic Solutions for Today's Planner
Back to Basics Building event success from the ground up
Inside this issue:
In the face of change
COVER STORY 10 Back to Basics Building event success from the ground up By Helen Van Dongen
contents Features 5
6 Meeting Planner Profile
Francine Socket, Francine Socket & Associates Event Architects
By Ben Moorsom
By Bob Parker
Harnessing the creative spirit for event promotion
Open for business
15 The Business of Meetings Smart meeting apps
By Leanne Andrecyk
By Lorne Collis
22 Stories of Success In the face of change
By Kristin Hosie
24 Tech Talk
By Andrew De La Cour and Derek Anderson
Designing for social good
By Judy Kucharuk
Corporate Meetings & Events December 2013â€‚|â€‚ 3
Focusing on Fundamentals
Corporate Meetings & Events Volume 14 Number 4 Publisher
Associate Publisher Managing Editor Online Editor Senior Designer Designer Production Manager Circulation Directory Manager
Aaron Burgess Sean Moon Steven Chester Annette Carlucci Jennifer Carter Rachel Selbie Lina Trunina Petra Brown
Editorial Advisory Board Doreen Ashton-Wagner, Chief Strategist & Managing Director, Greenfield-Services Inc. Sandy Biback, Principal, Imagination Meetings Leanne Andrecyk, Creative Director, ZedEvents Sarah Lowis, President, Sea to Sky Meeting Management Inc. Fiona Marshall-White, Managing Director of Events, Fraser Institute Joe Nishi, Regional Director, Meeting Encore Francis Pare, Account Manager, Zeste Incentive Martin Perelmuter, President, Speakers’ Spotlight Rita Plaskett, President, Agendum Inc. Brent Taylor, Principal, Timewise Event Management Inc. Angela Zaltsman, A to Z Event Management
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President Senior Vice President
After dabbling with playing the guitar back in high school, I decided a couple of years ago to pick it up again and see if I could rekindle some of that teen spirit (although I definitely pre-date Nirvana’s 90’s hit on the same topic). Much to my chagrin, I had forgotten most of what I knew how to play, apart from a couple of easy riffs and a few chord progressions that left little trace of their former classic rock glory. I quickly realized that if I was going to enjoy playing music again I was going to have to get back to the basics. Although it might be a stretch to compare my re-learning of scales and box patterns to getting back to the basics in the meetings industry, I think it is fair to say there are some parallels. As Helen Van Dongen aptly illustrates in this issue, if a professional event and meeting planner intends to take his or her business to the next level, it is sometimes necessary to take a step back. Not only is it easy to develop bad habits over the years, we can also come to rely on old ways of thinking and doing things, much to the detriment of our business or career. Progress is usually made in incremental steps, not giant leaps. And those steps often include taking a look back at where we have been and what needs to change in order to move forward. Van Dongen’s cover story, Back to Basics: Building Event Success from the Ground Up, provides event professionals with myriad reasons why it can be a good idea to return to fundamentals when we want to move ahead. From the importance of establishing objectives to focusing on budgets, resources and critical paths, the article offers an in-depth look at the key components that can help everyone from the recent graduate to the seasoned veteran. At this time of year, it is also normal procedure for magazines and other media to release their annual industry predictions for the coming months, as well as discuss any pertinent trends that may have surfaced over the previous year. With this last issue of CM&E for 2013, we take a look at what’s on the horizon for the Canadian corporate meetings industry in several areas, including audio-visual technology, corporate social responsibility and event branding. You’ll also find regular updates from industry organizations such as CanSPEP and BEICC, along with articles on smart meetings apps, how to deal with the challenges of regulatory change and a destination visit to Atlantic Canada. Thank you for another successful year at CM&E. From the entire editorial and publishing team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season and all the best for 2014. Cheers for now
Kevin Brown Chuck Nervick
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Sean Moon Managing Editor
Francine Socket CMM CMP PIDP
Present: Principal, Francine Socket & Associates, Event Architects Past: Director Special Events & Merchandising – CHUM Television - CTV Expertise: Large Scale Event Management, Brand Management, Logistics & Decor Specialty: Creativity, Precision, Flawless Execution Tell us about yourself: I am the Principal of Francine Socket & Associates, Event Architects, a full-service event management and design firm that redefines traditional event standards. Tell us about your work: We are award-winning specialists in designing, managing and executing highprofile corporate events. We understand that the event is an extension of the client’s brand. We work with our clients to successfully promote their brand and we ensure that all elements of each event accurately reflect the client’s brand starting from the guest/delegate entrance experience to content in the takeaways or items in a gift bags. We work with our clients to identify branding opportunities and relay key corporate messaging through various elements of the event. The events we produce drive sales and solidify relationships for our clients. How did you get to where you are today? Prior to launching my own business five years ago, I acted as Director of Special Events and Merchandising for CHUM Television and CTV. That role afforded me the experience and knowledge on how to plan and execute grand scale highprofile events flawlessly on modest budgets. We have produced events that have had over 16 levels of accreditation, street closures and rerouting of TTC. I have 18 MuchMusic Video Awards under my belt! Why are you good at what you do? I have a lot of experience and experience is really the best teacher. I have learned a lot over the years and have been fortunate to have had some fantastic mentors. Attention to detail is key as is being super organized, especially when you have multiple projects in play at once. Being creative and loving what you do also helps. I also have systems and practices in place that I adhere to religiously. A detailed shared production schedule is one of my practices that is a major catalyst in the success of planning and execution. 6 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
I also have a fantastic support team. We share a thorough understanding of what is important in order for the event to be successful. Maintaining successful and respectful relationships with vendors is also so important for success. Knowing that you can count on your vendors and they will deliver and make you look good is a huge element of the process. A consistent, calm and professional demeanor is also key for event professionals. As the lead “on the ice” we set the tone for the client’s comfort level and the rest of the staff. Keeping one step ahead of the trends and always being in the know regarding what is new and next is also hugely important. Being educated in technology and knowing which technology could enhance your events is also critical.
What are some of the challenges you face? Event planning is all about challenges. Knowing how to successfully manage the unexpected challenges and optics is the secret to success. The Toronto Event Industry has become a robust market. When I first started in the industry there were few vendors. Planners had to be super creative. I am proud to be part of an industry that has matured and become world class in a very short period of time. Walk us through a typical day at work. There is no such word as “typical” in my days. Every day is different; it depends on the projects we are working on and what the priorities are for the day. What have been some of your biggest achievements? Launching Francine Socket & Associates, Event Architects and growing it into the successful event management firm it is today. As mentioned earlier, I have planned and managed the MuchMusic Video Awards over 18 times. I have been inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame for my contributions to corporate event planning and most recently was honoured by The Baycrest Hospital for my contributions to their event roster. What do you like best about the meetings industry, particularly in your region or city? Toronto has an amazing array of venues and suppliers. There is something for every budget and every occasion. Who are some of your notable clients? Rogers, Sony Pictures Television, Corus Entertainment, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Women’s Brain Health Initiative to name a few. How do you deal with the challenges of work-life balance? Due to the nature of the industry, we have busy periods and not-sobusy periods. Understanding that is very important. It is critical to fuel up during the not-so-busy periods so that you can be consistent and productive during the busier periods. Producing events is both mentally and physically demanding , a healthy lifestyle and taking care of yourself is so important. What are some of your most memorable events and why? I have been planning events for over 25 years. The most memorable events are the ones that have many moving parts happening at the same time. There are too many to mention. In terms of emotionally satisfying, we are satisfied when the objectives have been met or surpassed, the client is happy and everything went according to plan.
Corporate Meetings & Events December 2013 | 7
Are You Building BUZZ? How to harness the creative spirit for event promotion
In a world that’s cluttered with noise, it often takes a splash of creativity to make people listen. By Ben Moorsom
I n ea rly Novemb er, Vi rg i n A mer ica airlines began re-capturing the attention of its passengers—and the rest of the digital world—with a masterfully produced music video created to replace the standard safety demonstration played prior to take-off. It’s a little bit Broadway and a little bit hip-hop. It’s perfectly choreographed, and skillfully composed. And, it’s sure to have people engaged in their seats. 8 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
The airline, celebrated for its creative spirit, recognized that it was going to take something really special to get passengers to look up and actually pay attention to this oft-repeated safety information. This was their solution: a fiveminute video featuring the music of American Idol semi-finalist Todrick Hall and directed by Jon Chu, known for directing movies like G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It’s clean, it’s professional, it’s modern, and it’s catchy.
And, if you travel as often as I do, then I’m sure you know how easy it is to tune out this information, whether it’s delivered by a flight attendant or pre-recorded video. Not only is this video getting passengers to pay attention—it is generating buzz all over the Internet. Just Google “Virgin America safety video” and see how many articles, blog posts, and reviews turn up. This kind of celebrated creativity is exactly what we all want to achieve, especially when we a re c reat i ng a nd lau nch i ng new campaigns, promotions, or product offerings. In a world that’s overly cluttered and full of information vying for people’s attention— how are you going to get your audience to hear you? How do you get your audience excited about something that might not typically be seen as exciting? The answer: Creativity. Even if you’re convinced it’s all been done before—I can assure you that’s not the case. I can only imagine how many airlines will step up over the coming months and try to breathe new life into their existing safety presentations. And I wonder how many times we’ll hear “why didn’t we think of that?” coming from corporate boardrooms across the commercial airline industry?
Creative Risk Taking Being creative means you have to take a risk. But, not all companies are comfortable with that. I find there’s this all-powerful ‘fear of judgment’ which many face as they’re trying to push their traditional practices outside the box. What if it doesn’t go over as well as we thought? What if our audience responds in a negative way? What if the powers-that-be refuse to approve something so different? These are all reasonable questions, but they’re also extremely limiting. Creativity is about embracing the child with i n you…with i n reason. You wa nt to deliver a message that’s in-line with your corporate philosophies, values and objectives. But you also want to have the courage to be different. I can’t see traditional airlines creating such a provocative and captivating music video as the one Virgin America produced, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from a dose of creativity. When you’re able to see beyond the limitations, the budgetary restrictions, the
fear of judgment, and a risk-averse culture—you’ll be free to take some chances and start generating buzz of your own. I believe in “Brave Ideas”: challenging the norm and pushing back against complacency. And, this is something we recommend everyone to strive for. Remember, it’s not about coming up with something new or b et ter, it ’s about com i ng up w it h something different. This difference will set you apart. To start thinking differently consider the following:
What if you’re not creative? Believe it or not, everyone is creative. You may not be trained as an artist or skilled in musical composition, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have inner creativity just waiting to be harnessed. Being artistic and being creative are not one and the same. Creativity is an instinct that we all possess to some extent. If you can’t find your creativity, you’re likely not looking for it or looking in the wrong places. How will you open yourself up to creative ideas? I always encourage people to explore their own surroundings as though t hey a re a t ravel ler. Look a rou nd you as you go from place to place; gather inspiration from people you meet, shops you visit, street sig ns, and cultural events. Go to the movies, the theatre, and concerts. Visit parks. Wa n d e r a r o u n d t h e d e p a r t m e n t stores. Ideas can be found in the most unexpected places—you just have to start looking. When traveling for business, be sure to have your eyes open at all times. The most original ideas can come from new places and different cultures. Make your brainstorm sessions more rewarding! We all know the standard rules of effective brainstorming: there are no dumb ideas; don’t criticize; build on others’ ideas; and the more the better. But, how do you get the most creative idea s out of t he se bra i n stor m i ng sessions? How do you ensure you’re dreaming up ideas that are different?
To begin, ask yourself, what do I want to accomplish? Realizing that your f i n a l idea l i kely won’t come f rom the first round, consider break ing you r bra i n stor m i ng session s i nto mu lt iple shor ter session s. T h i s g ive s p e ople t h e op p o r t u n it y t o stew on interesting ideas and allow them to grow organically. Consider taking your meetings outside of the b o a rd r o om . Fi nd mor e i n spi r i ng places that will support creative idea generation. Encourage your team to play and have fun with the process. Don’t put t ime rest rai nts on these sessions. If nothing is coming, cut the meeting short. If ideas are flowing, allow it to run a bit longer.
Once you’ve got ideas, how do you position them in a way that connects? The key here is to know and understand your audience. Once you have the idea, you’ll need to develop the rationale that supports your creativity and links it back to the objective of your event, communication campaign, or incentive program. This may take a bit more work up front, but trust me; the results will be worth it. What Virgin America did successfully was take something mandatory and mundane and put a creative spin on it. They took a risk. They took airline safety to a whole new level. And the buzz followed. It’s not about trying to be the best; it’s about allowi ng yourself to be different. Creativity is the birthplace of buzz. So what are you waiting for? Ben Moorsom is President and Chief Creative Officer at Debut Group, an agency that specializes in corporate business communication and events across North America. Since 1997, Debut has pioneered new ways of delivering content and has mastered the art of creating greater perceived production value for their clients. For more information on how Ben and his dynamic team of communication and production veterans deliver better results by producing bold creative that is strategically grounded, emotionally engaging, and f lawlessly delivered to meet any clients budget, visit Debut at www.debutgroup.com. Corporate Meetings & Events December 2013 | 9
Basics Building Event Success From the Ground Up 10 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
By Helen Van Dongen, CMP, CMM
A full four years after the financial meltdown of 2009, the Canadian economy still seems to be recovering in name alone. Plenty of my peers are seeing colleagues downsized, work outsourced, and budgets continually shrinking while programs grow larger and more complex. (Don’t get me started about ‘doing more with less!’) In the current financial environment, success looks more like a sturdy table than pin spot lighting and organza overlays.
Corporate Meetings & Events December 2013 | 11
coverstory I m ag i n e my s u r p r i s e, t h e n , w h e n a conversat ion w it h a re cent i nter n unearthed the fact that she was able to graduate with a recognized planning d iplom a w it h out k n ow i n g h ow t o reconcile a budget, post-event. Say what? That got me thinking about what it takes to be a high performer these days. And that, in turn, led me back to the fundamentals I learned as a “baby” planner. Sure, we know the basics – they’re automatic. We don’t think about them, do them by rote. But sometimes, when you aren’t paying attention, you miss things, and the foundation you assume is solid contains some weak spots. So, how to pay attention to the things you take for granted? T he Budd h i st s c a l l it ‘b eg i n ner ’s mind’ – the practice of setting aside everything you know about a particular topic, and approaching it as though it’s completely new to you. Though I’m not a golfer, I know that when Phil Michelson is struggling with his long game, he starts over from scratch. Everything from the way he grips the club to the position of his body as he addresses the ball, swings back, releases, connects and follows through is evaluated, adjusted as required and reassembled. It’s those fundamentals that make the difference between appearance money and a green jacket or a claret jug. But I’m a planner, not a golfer, so how does this apply to me?
(Do I Really Have to Say It?) Objectives
I know. Establishing objectives is boring, or tedious, or just plain difficult. Your client often can’t articulate anything measurable about the event they want to hold – which results in ‘objectives’ like “we did it last year” or “it’s a sales conference.” But if you can’t identify your destination, it doesn’t matter what route you take. I f you ca n de s c r ib e how you r participants should be different leaving t he eve nt t h a n t hey were a r r iv i ng , you can craft an objective. Answer the quest ion: “Why a re we doi ng th is?” D o yo u w a n t t h e m t o u n d e r s t a n d the st rateg y beh i nd a cha nge i n the b u s i n e s s? A r e t h e y c e leb r at i n g a n achievement? Must they learn a new skill? If you know only that much, you should still be able to write one specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timespecific objective for the event. Once 12 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
The Buddhists call it ‘beginner’s mind’ – the practice of setting aside everything you know about a particular topic, and approaching it as though it’s completely new to you. you have an objective, it becomes the keystone for all your planning.
Show Me the Money: Budgets
No mat ter what it looks like – Excel spreadsheet, custom event solution, or a pencil and a ruled pad – there’s nothing all that complicated about preparing a budget. The trick is to get it right (by which I mean use accurate estimates, and include taxes and service charges) and include everything you anticipate buying (by which I mean get your client to provide as much detail as possible up front). If you’ll earn revenue from sponsorsh ips, reg ist rat ion or exh ibit s a le s, t ho s e e le me nt s mu s t a l s o b e included. Yo u’l l w a n t a l i n e it e m f o r e a c h element. Get as specific as you want. For a small event, line items could simply be categories: AV, food and beverage, transportation. For something bigger or more complex, breaking categories down by day and function (e.g. F&B includes Monday breakfast, morning break, lunch, cocktail reception, etc.) will make it less likely that you’ll miss something. Group rows by category, or by chronolog y – whatever makes sense to you. Got the line items figured out? Ensure there are columns for units, number of people, or days, as required, a column for taxes, another for service, and one more for the row total. Beside your total column, you’ll want two more for actuals and variance, once the bills come in. Once you’ve got the draft spreadsheet together, be prepared to play ‘what if?’ Is the organization financially challenged? Will your event budget be cut in half? C o u ld t h e n u m b e r o f p a r t i c i p a n t s increase? Decrease? If any of those are real possibilities, you might want to use a new tab for each scenario, in order to be prepared to talk through the options with
your client. Or simply to satisfy yourself that you’re ready for the eventualities, should they arise.
It’s a good idea to work through the checklist with your client, before you ever apply it to a venue. My clients think about meeting space based on the content they want to deliver. So, they tell me to look for a plenary room, three breakouts, and a private room for dinner. They never tell me that the CEO requires an ‘office’ close to the plenary room, or that four of the business units will host booths that participants can visit in the ballroom prefunction. It’s my job to ask those questions, and many more. Coat check? Client break fast? Impromptu me e t i ng ro om s? I nter ne t ca fé? V IP reception space? If I don’t identify those elements up front, it could well be hard to add them later. And easy to select the wrong hotel! Once you’ve narrowed down what to look for, take that beginner’s mind on your site inspection. Sure, you’ve seen the property a dozen times, but your participants may not have. Put you rsel f i n t hei r shoes when you’re walking through the space. If there are multiple rooms, are they close together or on different floors? How far from the plenary space to the washrooms? Will your group be alone in a wing, or will the provincial step-dancers be clogging away on the other side of your airwall? We plan ners have an eye on the big picture, yet our participants’ experience is often determined by what seem like small things.
It’s Called a Critical Path For a Reason
You know why and where you’re doing this, and how much you can spend; now
coverstory it’s all about crossing items off the to do list. Most planners I know adore lists. Nothing demonstrates tangible progress like a list with a bunch of check marks in the margin. Again, group the individual items however it makes sense to you. Chronologically works great, but dividing your list into categories (e.g. speakers, trade show) suits some planners better. When I delivered my first meeting, t he world d id n’t move a s fa st, a nd com mu n icat ion wa sn’t t he ba r rage of email, voice messages, texts, posts and feeds it is now. No wonder I could remember better then! Even for simple events, I now find I can’t be sure I’ve handled something unless I see it crossed off a list. And with a dozen open files at once, it’s impossible to recall the details of each event, and my progress on any one of them. That said, use the level of detail that suits you best. Don’t need a reminder to set up steering committee meetings once a month? No problem. But if it helps you feel in control, or calms you to know that a colleague could pick up your event at a moment’s notice, add it to your list.
Just because the basics are simple doesn’t mean they’re optional. Admittedly, I’ve run a conference with only the BEOs. And I’ve delivered events without a budget. Plenty of my clients haven’t established objectives, and I’ve amended more venue contracts than I care to tell you. (Even when you ask the right questions, you can only work with the information and lead time you’re given.) In each case, I’ve had to back-fill, do-over, beg a favour, or bust a gut to get things done. Every time, I learn anew how much easier it is when I do the basics first.
Helen Van Dongen, CMP, CMM, was most recently National Director, Event Management at KPMG and is currently a free agent. Helen has also served in leadership roles at RBC Capital Markets, Deloitte, and the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). She has more than twenty years’ experience in planning and delivering high-level meetings across Canada and around the world. Helen also co-edited “Meetings & Conventions: A Planning Guide,” the most widely used meeting management textbook in Canadian universities and colleges. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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Build it from day one. Got a draft agenda? Ladies and gentlemen, start your resume! For me, a resume is a work in progress – sometimes right up until the last day of the event. No question, it lays out the order in which things occur – and where, and how many, and so on – but in some respects, it stands as a record of decisions made about the program. It names the suppliers you’ll work with (and their contact information), indicates who’s responsible for what (Angela changes the breakout signage at 2:30 p.m.), reminds you of important deadlines (centrepieces delivered by 4 p.m.), and ensures that everyone has the same information about the event that you do. If it happens at your event, the resume should include it. Nothing is too small, or too obvious. What time is move-in? Is there a speaker ready room? Who staffs the registration desk – for how long? Will the bar serve premium liquors or just wine and beer? From where will the airport transfers depart? If you win the lottery the night before the event, another planner should be able to pick up your document and run the show. Hey, it could happen! An industry friend once told me, “you can’t skip a step.” That’s true for anything in life, but especially so in our business.
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BEICC U p d a t e
Open For business
Government focus is an opportunity for meetings and events By Bob Parker
The current session of Parliament opened with a throne speech on October 16, 2013, and if you listened carefully to what was shared by Govenor General David Johnston, you may have heard a reference to a proposed focus on increasing tourism within Canada. More specifically, this emphasis seems to be intended on bringing more people into Canada as visitors, rather than entirely encouraging Canadians to travel more at home. This past May, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) revealed a fresh focus and new name – Business Events Canada, to focus on meetings, conventions and incentive travel. This recent change, along with a Free Trade agreement in Europe, shows a willingness for the current government to suggest that Canada is “Open For Business” for markets outside of Canada. More tourism dollars have the potential for investment in facilities and services that also support the infrastructure of meetings and events in Canada. This would ultimately impact both direct and indirect spending within this sector. Government incentives for such investment would be a welcome addition to this strategy, as it would provide benefits that far outreach just the tourism economic impact. The opportunity for the meetings and events industry in Canada is looking very positive as the economy improves, government deficits are being reduced, and markets continue to open. Global Speakers Summit Update The Future of the Meetings Industry was discussed at a session during the Global Speakers Summit held in Vancouver, B.C. on December 8-10, 2013. Bob Parker CSP, BEICC 2013 Chairperson; and Rita Plaskett CMP, CMM, BEICC Past Chairperson and Chair of the MPI Canadian Economic Impact Study; were joined by Michael Dominguez, MPI International Chairperson, to discuss issues that are affecting the global meetings and events industry. On the minds of many attendees was how the United States, in particular, is responding to current market conditions and government cutbacks. Although business meetings and events are set to continue to increase at a forecast of four per cent, according to MPI’s 2014 Trend Report, it should be noted that the government participation in meetings and events is still being scrutinized at all levels. Canada will see an increase in meeting 14 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
budgets and events by 1.5 per cent according to an American Express report, while Europe will be flat. A downward trend is anticipated for Asia with a 1.8-per-cent decrease. One might suggest hope that the opportunity may be from delegates of Asian countries to attend meetings and events in the North American market – the CTC reports that overnight stays to Canada by Asians has steadily increased since 2010, especially from China. As organizations become more global, meetings and events are seeing increasingly more diversity within the make-up of their audiences. This brings with it many cultural differences which impact engagement and satisfaction from the audience. While North American audiences typically are moving to models of more engagement with audience members, Asian audiences respect expert driven presentation. Meetings must find a balance of this approach to satisfy these differences. The Summit was hosted by the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) and saw attendees from around the globe gain and share a global perspective on these trends. Joe Orecchio, 2014 BEICC Chairperson BEICC is thrilled to announce Joe Orecchio as the 2014 BEICC chairperson. Joe has over 20 years in the meetings and events industry, and has served as President of SITE Canada. A member of the BEICC Board for three years, Joe brings a considerable amount of depth and passion for the business events industry. Joe will continue to drive forward our current initiatives and strategies. Bob Parker is chairperson for BEICC, and representative member of CAPS (The Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) where he is the National President-Elect. He has worked in this industry for over 20 years as a thought leader on building high performing cultures and teams. You can contact him at email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Th e B u s i n e s s o f M e e t i n g s
Smart Meeting Apps Tech-savvy planning is key to a successful event By Leanne Andrecyk Today’s busy event planners are constantly juggling copious amounts of information. Organized by nature, the planner is the ultimate multi-tasker so it’s great when easy-to-use technologies are available to help improve efficiency and streamline tasks to foster the success of an event. At the top of the list is the smartphone – with an emphasis on “smart.” Talking and texting are the secondary functions of this little gem combining a phone, computer and camera, all in one, it is quickly becoming the Swiss army knife in the industry’s event toolkit. The importance of technology is very evident on the day of an event but also leading up to the event during the planning a nd product ion phases, well before the h igh-defi n it ion projectors and dynamic video walls are set-up. Below are a few “tools of the trade:” Voxer In event production, on-site communication is key between team members. At one time, it was hard to beat the reliability of an old-fashioned walkie-talkie to get a message across but with the proliferation of the smart phone, “voxing” is the new walkie. No need to lug around a bulky radio for instant connections. Voxer is t he on ly l ive “push to talk” app that turns a smartphone into a walkie-talkie, allowing a planner to send and receive livestreamed messages. Doodle Gone are the days of email ping-pong t r ying to find a meeting date that works for everyone. Wit h t he help of Doodle, planners can post the options on-line allowing team members, com m it tee members or suppliers to choose their availabilit y a nd vote for their preferred times. Dinnerticketsales.com “Rea l-time” on-line registration eliminates the daunting task of assigned seating by putting guests in control of the
seating plan. Sound scary? Think again — engaging guests and delegates prior to a corporate event or conference fully engages them onsite allowing them to plan their networking strategy to connect with preferred suppliers and partners. Dropbox While on the topic of real-time, nothing is more real or timely than cloud computing. The silver lining in this technology is the demise of the event binder. Cloud computing puts the planner’s files at their fingertips anytime, anywhere via their laptop, iPad and that little gem in their pocket, the smartphone, by storing files on a webbased service that are then easily shared with co-workers, committee members or any individual who is “invited” to have access. For those on the other side of the event fence, including guests and attendees, technology is also a given part of everyday life. Staying connected is paramount – event attendees do not want to be asked to unplug! Gone are the days that started with the polite request to turn off all cell phones and electronic devices. Event and conference formats will need to embrace technology and create innovative ways to incorporate new methods of networking into the event agendas. Encouraging onsite tweeting can actually help expand an event’s reach. Rather than limiting comments to around the table, the conversations now move around the room — and beyond — to the many business networks of those in attendance. Advances in technology also contribute to “green” initiatives. The use of smartphones means an event can go virtually paperless with apps to provide attendees with directions, menus, agenda and floor plans. Is there an app for that? Why, yes, of course! As VP of Innovation & Execution for ZedEvents great productions, Leanne Andrecyk oversees operations, assignments and creative direction for the company. A graduate of the University of King's College, Leanne designs concepts and directs a production team, overseeing the exacting work that makes for successful events and conferences. As a Certified Event Manager in the Atlantic region, Leanne is a leader in the industry and was awarded Planner of the Year for 2013 by MPI Atlantic Canada Chapter. Corporate Meetings & Events December 2013 | 15
d e s t i n at i o n p r o f i l e
hospitality F o r h i g h - q u a l i t y eve n t s hosted with down-home charm, Halifax and Moncton offer the best of both worlds.
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welcomed with open arms by the engaging spirit of Haligonians. It could be an airport limo driver who regales you with a story of being born in a cab atop one of the local bridges or a simple hello from virtually every person you meet, but it can seem at times that everyone in Halifax is on the payroll of the local CVB. “Halifax is able to offer a variety of highquality event support services and venues,” says Christina Pantuso, Federation of Canadian Municipalities. “The Maritime charm and hospitality that Destination Halifax delivers will make any event a wonderful experience!” Warmth and hospitality notwithstanding, Halifax offers everything a corporate meeting planner could look for. With convenient plane, train and automobile access from the rest of North America, the city has been recognized internationally for the important economic impacts, leading research and development work, as well as the impressive array of facilities and meetings venues to be found here. Contributions to the global Friendly Folks From the moment you step off the plane at economy made by key Halifax industry Stanfield International Airport, you will be sectors such a life sciences, education, Much has been made over the years of the renowned Maritime hospitality and friendliness of the people that inhabit in this charming, yet cosmopolitan, city by the sea. But upon closer inspection, not on ly does Ha l i fa x del iver on it s reputation as a great place to visit with fa m i ly a nd f r iends (even new-fou nd ones), it also flexes considerable muscle as a formidable meetings destination that any planner would be well-served to consider. Whether it is the multitude of guest accom modat ion s of v i r t ua l ly ever y imaginable description (over 4,000 rooms at last count) or its easy access from major North American cities such as Toronto, Montreal and New York, Halifax offers big-city amenities in a compact, walkable and definitely convivial destination. Even European centres such as London and Paris are just a (relatively) brief five hours away!
d e s t i n at i o n p r o f i l e
aerospace and finance make it an optimal destination for international organizations to host meetings and conventions. Stunning New Facility
Joining the list of those impressive facilities in 2016 will be the new Halifax Convention Centre currently under construction in the heart of downtown. Located just blocks from the bustling waterfront and within easy walking distance of the city’s best restaurants, bars and arts and entertainment, this facility will feature an estimated 120,000 sq. ft. of rentable space, including 50,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and a spectacular 30,000 sq. ft. ballroom overlooking the city. In addition, the building is part of the Nova Centre – a sustainable, LEED gold standard, 1-millionsquare-foot, mixed-use development that will completely transform two full blocks of the city’s entertainment district. Among the other first-class downtown venues, planners will find a variety of facilities to meet all budgets and tastes, from the nautical to the historical: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – Located on Halifax’s waterfront, steps from all major
ideal for concerts, trade and automobile shows, gala dinners and fundraisers. Accommodates 2,000 person dinners, 4,000 person receptions and concerts. Divides easily for smaller groups. Halifax Citadel National Historic Site – In the heart of downtown, offer your guests a first-class heritage experience complemented by moder n-day c o nve n ie n c e s. C a n a c c om mo d at e group dinners, receptions, outdoor con c e r t s, a nd me e t i ng s a l l i n a n historic setting. Hear the skirl of the bagpipes, the boom of the can non, ch at w it h a soldier a nd enjoy one of Ca nada’s most visited Nat ional Historic Sites. Foodie Favourite
Credit: Destination Halifax A. Young
Credit: Destination Halifax B. McWhirter
hotels, spectacular harbour view; perfect for receptions, dinners and meetings for up to 250 people. Add a tour of the renowned museum exhibits. Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery – Custom packages, dinners, receptions for up to 100 guests. Add an award winning theatrical Brewery Tour with traditional Maritime songs and beer samples. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia – A spectacular set t i ng for you r present at ion s, performances, parties, and receptions. An 80-seat theatre, flexible seminar space, beautiful galleries, and on-site caterer make it a picture-perfect venue. Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 – Ca nada’s Im m ig rat ion Museum hosts events of all types – from casual meetings to high-profile conventions a n d t r a d e s h o w s . Aw a r d -w i n n i n g national attraction, rich in history, with harbour views and functional spaces to en su re you r next special event is memorable. Cunard Centre – A renovated cargo shed overlooking Halifax Harbour with 45,000 sq. ft. of column-free space. Easy load in –
With its reputation as being one of the “pub” capitals of the world and a vibrant restaurant scene featuring award-winning chefs, there is no shortage of food and drink options for your event guests when in Halifax. Dine on the freshest lobster and seafood, complemented of course by acclaimed Annapolis Valley wines and locally sourced ingredients. Or take in the oldest Farmer’s Market in North America to create your own culinary masterpiece. And if it is entertainment your delegates are looking for, then the options run from frenetic Celtic beats to music festivals, sporting events and theatre. For off-site thrills, the Halifax region offers everything from spectacular golf to winery tours, sea kayaking and a multitude of nature hiking trails, not to mention a visit to the iconic shores of Peggy’s Cove less than an hour’s drive away. “W here m a ny c it y de st i n at ion s in Canada are challenged by lack of evening activities, the easy accessibility to great music, a fantastic boardwalk, festivals and evening activities ensures that no one will be bored or without options,” says Richard Roth of CanWest Travel Company. “The combination of a t h r iv i ng u rba n env i ron ment, diverse and vibrant culture, and easy accessibility to stunning ocean and land environments makes this an appealing destination to any sort of group. There is truly something for everyone here!” For more information on how the team at Destination Halifax can help plan your next meeting in Halifax, visit them online at www.destinationhalifax.com. Corporate Meetings & Events December 2013 | 17
Credit: Tourism Moncton
d e s t i n at i o n p r o f i l e Better know n a s t he “Hub Cit y,” Moncton, New Brunswick is the fastest growing metropolitan cit y east of Saskatoon. Positioned in the middle of the three Maritime provinces, and close to the U.S. border, Moncton draws from more than 1.4 million people within a three-hour drive. With nearly 30 venues to choose from, including the world renowned M a g n e t i c H i l l c o n c e r t s i t e, t h e Moncton Colosseum and Casino New Brunswick, Moncton offers state-of-
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the-art facilities with professional services to host events small and large. “Moncton has built a reputation in the social, corporate and sports communities by hosting events that have surpassed audience expectations,” says Louise D'Amours, Destination Sales Manager for the City of Moncton. “The city will provide a number of support services to events being held in the Moncton area,” including assisting in events organizing, support for excursion organizations and assistance with hotel proposals. Popular Tour Stop
With an International airport and some of Canada's most well-known attractions, Moncton has a bilingual and multicultural population, and in 2008 was noted to be the “most polite and honest city in Canada,” in Readers Digest. The city has welcomed the Rolling Stones at Atlantic Canada's largest ever concert event and was the final stop for U2's 360 tour. The city hosted the Sommet de la francophonie, which drew an audience of 129,000, the world 2010 Track and Field Championship, regular season CFL games and is set to be one of six Canadian cities to host the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Moncton is world renowned for its scenic attractions, including the tidal bore, a scenic phenomenon caused by the Bay of Fundy tides and Hopewell Rocks, a rock formation that stands between 10 and 20 metres tall. Moncton is also only a short drive to Parlee Beach Provincial Park, which boasts the warmest salt water in all of Canada and Fundy National Park where guests can enjoy unique ecosystems, rare bird sightings and splendid views of the Bay of Fundy. For the outdoor enthusiasts and adventurists, Moncton is home to more than 2,000 acres of parkland and a multitude of family friendly trails and parks all within the city limits. Moncton's indoor amusement park, Crystal Palace boasts an indoor roller coaster, mini golf and more, and is connected to the Ramada Plaza Crystal Palace Hotel. Dining in Moncton is an experience of its own. With well known eateries, as well as quaint pubs and fine dining, the city is home to more than 200 restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines. And for sports fans, Moncton is home to the Wildcats hockey team, a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team that has seen many players rise to professional stardom. Chosen as one of the top 10 places to do business six years in a row by Canadian Business Magazine, Moncton is sure to leave audiences and guests impressed. For more information on what Moncton has to offer visit www.moncton.ca or www.tourism. moncton.ca.
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AFTER NEARLY THREE DECADES IN HOSPITALITY, LEE-ANNE LECKIE HAS YOUR BACK WHEN YOU’RE PLANNING AN EVENT. Lee-Anne is The International Centre’s Sales Manager of Meetings and Conferences. With her at the helm, clients wishing to stage world-class events are assured that everything down to the smallest detail is covered. “Whether it’s a meeting for 50 or a conference for 500, our team of experienced professionals gets behind every event as though it’s their own,” says Lee-Anne. A Certified Meeting Professional, Lee-Anne also recently became PresidentElect of MPI’s Toronto Chapter. We’re not at all surprised. If you’ve got an event coming up that needs to be handled by consummate pros, make the call to Lee-Anne.
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C a n SPEP U p d a t e
Mission Possible The business of event management
By Lorne Collis CanSPEP is unique in the events industry in that the focus of the organization is not on the management of events, but on the business of event management. Our newly revised mission statement – “The network of professionals providing leadership and education in event management as a business” – was created to better reflect the entrepreneurial nature of CanSPEP’s membership. To this end, programming at CanSPEP’s upcoming conference in Ottawa will focus on achieving those objectives. Ottawa to host Annual Conference
“There is a subtle but distinct difference between the event management business and the business of event management,” explai n s newly appoi nted Ca n SPEP President Catherine Paull. “CanSPEP members, as a whole, are not only charged with managing events for their clients, t hey h ave t he added respon sibi l it y of building and managing their own companies.” Ba la nc i ng t he ne ed for te c h n ica l e x p e r t i s e w it h i mp r ove d b u si n e s s acumen, CanSPEP has offered seminars on everything from pricing, contracts and insurance requirements to compliance with legislative changes on accessibility and TICO licensing. Along with the new mission statement, CanSPEP also recently announced its new board of directors, confirmed at November’s annual general meeting: 20 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
Catherine Paull, CMP, (Catherine Paull Meeting Management Inc.) assumes the leadership role as President for 2013-2014; Debbie Arato, CSEP, (Arato Entertainment & Events Inc.) becomes Past President; Phil Ecclestone, CMP, (Golden Planners Inc.) returns as VP Partnerships; C a r o l i n e A s t o n (A s t o n Eve n t s & Communications) becomes Secretary/ Treasurer; Lorne Collis (KIT Services) is the new VP Communication; Susan Phillips (SGP Conference and Events Ltd.) moves in as VP Communities; Marilyn Dalzell, CMP, (Dalzell Meetings & Events Inc.) takes over as VP Education; Sharm Simon, CMP, (S & L Solutions) steps up as VP Marketing; and Heather Reid, ARCT, MSc, (Innovative Conferences & Communications) joins the board as VP Membership.
CanSPEP’s 2014 Conference will be held February 20–22, 2014 at Brookstreet Hotel in Ottawa. Delegates will have the opportunity to network and learn while experiencing Ottawa’s unique charm. The conference features over 18 hours of educational programming on a wide variety of topics. Focusing on growing your business, topics include Success in the Event Management Business, Risk Management and ROI. Technical expertise can be enhanced through sessions on Social Media, Event Apps & Technology and Hybrid Meetings. Legislative topics include Accessibility and Anti-Spam Legislation. Personal growth will be the focus of sessions on Leadership, Human Capital, Self-Promotion, and Succession Planning. And, of course, the opportunity to network with suppliers and fellow planners over a three-day period may ultimately lead to new partnerships and collaborations. Collaboration is what sets CanSPEP apart from any other group or association. Because CanSPEP members are all entrepreneurial small-business owners, their business models are varied and unique. Some members utilize support staff, others choose to work solo. From generalist to specialist, rookie to veteran, there is one concept they all agree on: The availability of experienced, like-minded colleagues who can act as a resource and provide support is one of the most underrated benefits of CanSPEP membership. Lorne Collis is the President of KIT Services, and serves as VP Communication for CanSPEP. For more information on CanSPEP, CanSPEP membership or the CanSPEP conference, visit www.CanSPEP.ca
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In the Face
A case study of how to handle a legislative curveball By Kristin Hosie TICO became somewhat of a bad word in the Ontario event planning industry over the last couple of years. It came as a surprise and shock to many planners that legislation was in place requiring them to become registered with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario in order to provide travel services to their clients, something that had been common practice for ages.
But Ontario isn’t the only province that has this requirement – both Quebec and British Columbia also require planners to offer a similar form of Consumer Travel Protection. Currently, talks are occurring in Manitoba to legislate this as well. When the act was passed in 2002, the province of Ontario gave the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) responsibility for the administration of the Act. When founder and COO Julie Peden began operating Ruby Sky Event Planning Inc. in 22 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
2003, the business was built on the concept of alleviating a client’s work load and providing full-service support for a conference or special event. This includes, without question, providing travel and transportation needs. Compensation was offered by the agency once an IATA number was provided in the form of commission. No additional cost to the client – just convenience. Tough Decision In 2013, the planning industry was faced with
a very real decision: No longer offer this service to your clients; completely alter your business plan and client offerings; or attain a TICO certification at great f i n a n c i a l e x p e n s e t o t h e b u s i n e s s. Whether or not a business owner agreed with the legislation became irrelevant. This was a change that needed to be faced head-on. Despite initial resistance, this was a story of success in adjustment and adherence to this requirement.
Ruby Sky saw three options: Scenario 1: The event planner organizes
and takes money from the client and pays the suppliers for the travel services. Under this scenario, registration under the Act is required. The event planner (individual or entity) would be required to meet all aspects of TICO’s registration criteria. Scenario 2: The event planner arranges and books travel services on behalf of the client and the client pays the suppliers or travel agent. Under this scenario, the event planner would be required to have an agreement with a registered travel agency, as a contractor and meet TICO’s Education Standard for Travel Counselor. There will certainly be proportionate fees attached to this in finding a registered travel agent to partner with. Scenario 3: The event planner provides adv ice to t he cl ient wh ic h hotel or accommodation to utilize and which transportation to utilize. The client makes the reservations and pays the suppliers or pays the travel agent. Under this scenario, provided the event planner does not make any reservations and only advises the client which travel services it should utilize, no action is required in respect to compliance with TICO. Costly Solution After many conversations with the various industry organizations and lobby groups such as the Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC), the decision was made that the only option that made sense for Ruby Sky was to comply, and to register as a Travel Agency under the Ontario Travel Industry Act 2002 (TIA). Changing the company’s entire business structure would not be welcomed by long term clients who had come to expect this high level of service from us. This solution, unfortunately, won’t be realistic for everyone in the industry, as the requirements are definitely steep. The financial investment is significant and the barriers to entry include proof of a brickand-mortar establishment (not just a virtual business) and other limitations, most of which are financial. For those of us in this circumstance, adjustment of your business structure may very well be the best option. However, once you’ve made the commitment and investment, there are benefits. Although a commitment of time to study, both the Supervisor/Manager and Travel Counselor exams were not extremely difficult to pass. And as we are all looking for a great way to differentiate ourselves in this busy marketplace, this can be a great feather in your cap to set you
apart from the competition while the shift is underway. Finally, consumer protection IS important, and although a challenge initially for compliance, your client’s peace of mind (and yours!) is certainly worth adapting with the industry. Our industry is not unlike others, where curveballs are thrown, technologies change, and legislation is adjusted. Without change, the event planning industry would never survive. Our clients come to us looking for the latest venue, a unique design concept, a way to incorporate a new technology into their meeting, or a thrilling new entertainment idea. We have it covered; and are always on
the pulse of the next big idea. Adaptation is what planners do best. With that in mind, there is confidence that this will not slow us down. This is just the latest challenge – one we will all rise to. Kristin Hosie has extensive international conference and event management experience as well as an enviable track-record of leadership and success with her e vents. Kr ist in’s additional skills include event registration software, mobile apps, social media and Ruby Sky’s annual marketing campaign. For more information on how Kristin and her team can help you, visit www.rubyskyeventplanning.ca
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t e c h ta l k
What’s on the horizon for event technology? By Andrew De La Cour and Derek Anderson
As 2013 comes to a close, it is safe to assume that the technologies most in demand by meeting planners this year foreshadow what’s to come in 2014. Most notably, there were three standout technology solutions that created a buzz among meeting professionals. Of the three, only a couple were embraced by your peers—the other, not so much. Here’s a recap. • V i d e o d o m i n a t e d i n f o r m a t i o n con su mp t ion me t ho d s at eve nt s. Whether it was shaky camera phone images or professionally shot and edited footage, video has been vital to extending the li fe and reach of a me s s age v i a s o c i a l me d i a, l ive webcasting or video archiving on a website post-event. • There was—and will continue to be—a steady increase in electronic methods o f d i s s e m i n at i ng i n for m at ion at events. The best example of this was the transition witnessed this year from traditional paper poster presentations to ePosters (elect ron ic posters) at medical and scientific conferences. • Mobi le apps, a lt houg h t hey h ave been around a while now, have had somewhat limited success to date. This is mainly due to the various models and capabilities of mobile devices on the market, as well as inefficient internet access to handle the constant volume of mobile devices attempting to connect within meeting spaces. That said, with the continued move to webbased (“cloud”) apps, and the improved browser capabi lit ies of t he newer mobile devices, the industry is likely to see an increase in the use of web-based apps with lower costs at meetings. What do AV technologists predict? Another year of audio-visual technology tradeshows has come, gone and left AV professionals in anticipation of new technological possibilities. Now that the tradeshow buzz has worn off, let’s review the top technologies determined 24 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
by the tech world in 2013, and determine whether they will truly be viable for corporate meetings and events in the new year and beyond. • LED light fixtures were everywhere. C o n v e n t i o n a l (t u n g s t e n ) - b a s e d light fixtures are a dying breed. In about five years, conventional-based fixtures will become more of a niche product, rather than the dominant l ig ht sou r ce, a s m a nu fac t u rer s i mpr ove t he e f f ic ie n c y a nd l ig ht out put. Convent iona l Pa r Ca n s i n particular have all but been replaced by LED Pa r f i xt u r e s. Mea nwh i le, traditional LED wash fixtures have been getting smaller and brighter, while using less power. • LED-based video/effects panels were also very visible on show floors, with m a ny new produc t s a nd de sig n s. There is a very evident downward trend in pricing, driven by the influx of cheaper off-shore LED panels. In addition, the is a growing number of specialty LED display products—such as curved, flexible, sheet and linear LED elements—that can be used in creative ways to display motion video or lighting-type effects. • 2K-resolution (2048x1080, 2 megapixel) cinema cameras, processing and workflow—the darling of past shows—are so yesterday, with the launch of multiple 4K-resolution (4096 × 2160, 8 megapixel) cameras, recorders and work-f low solutions. What’s more amazing is that tradeshow floors were already abuzz about forthcoming 6K and 8K cameras and related equipment. This is turning
into a “resolution race,” similar to what happened to the consumer digital SLR market over the past four or so years. DSLRs in particular are a force to be reckoned with, in terms of HD video capture in the film industry. • 4K-resolution has the potential to i mp a c t c o r p o r at e m e e t i n g s a nd events over the next two years, as the requirements for high-resolution blended backdrops increase. These h ig h -r e s olut ion f i le s, c om b i n e d with up-and-coming 4K-resolution projectors, will transform the look and feel of events in the future. • 3D i s n o lo n g e r a h o t t o p i c. I n professional AV, there was almost NO visibility of this technology on show floors, a stark contrast to the two previous years. 3D has moved t o it s r ig h t f u l pl a c e a s a n i c h e product, with little impact beyond the consumer cinema, gaming and professiona l specia lt y a rena (i.e. medical, geological and aviation). The new year is now upon us, so on ly t i me w i l l tel l wh ic h of t he s e tech nolog ies will make the biggest impact on the corporate meetings and events industry. Andrew De La Cour is National Director of Technical Inventory and Derek Anderson is Director of Digital Services for AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions, a company that connects people in meaningful ways by enhancing the power of meetings, conventions, special events and trade shows through leading-edge presentation technology solutions.
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S u s ta i n a b i l i t y
Designing for Social Good Measuring the impact of socially responsible events By Judy Kucharuk The lights have been turned off in the breakout rooms, the conference concierge desk has been dismantled, and the attendees have checked out of their hotel rooms. Whew! Finally. . . time to take a breath, enjoy a well deserved glass of wine and reflect on a job well done. Look around you. Do you see them? The faint footprints of social good – the inspiring influence that will linger long after the event is over. Do you hear it? The quiet whispers of positive action and ideas that echo loudly, heard far beyond the building. Social good is difficult to quantify and measure. Whom did we impact? How did we i mpact? W here did we impact? We struggle with telling the stories that are so important to reinforce the messages. “My m o m we n t t o a c o n f e r e n c e and all she brought me back was this t-shirt” probably should read, “My mom went to a conference and she brought me back t h is t-sh i r t made f rom 10 0 per cent recycled material, crafted by artisans who generously donate their talent and expertise to a non-profit who then use the funds from the t-shirts to provide food for an inner city hot lunch program.” Not acceptable messaging is it? Unfortunately, we don’t examine other means of getting our message out there to tell the entire story. Creating Waves of Change Many conferences and events have the potential of having a ‘living’ cycle, not just a lifecycle: The potential to create waves of change that ripple for months and even years following the final words of the closing keynote. 26 | www.corporatemeetingsnetwork.ca
Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So true! How did the event make them (attendees) feel? Did it inspire them? Motivate them? Did they find value in their connections? Will their (attendees/vendors/suppliers/ community) lives change as a result? The Domino Effect Our decisions have an impact that can reach farther than we can imagine. Here is an example: “In an effort to minimize the carbon footprint associated with transportation, Conference XYZ will source all fresh produce from within a 100 k m radius.” Th is decision not only supports the local producer and minimizes the environmental footprint of transporting the produce. That same decision may benefit families who work for the producer and inject more revenue into the local economy. A long-term, multi-year/event commitment to the local producer might prompt an increase in wages, and allow the producer to hire more employees, etc. Quality of life will improve for others based on your decision. One decision, yet a decision that has many positive consequences that impact the social fabric of the community.
There is a school of thought that says we shy away from examining the social good that is generated from our events simply because it is too difficult to measure. How do we find out if we made a difference? How do we find out if our nudges of influence had any affect at all? O n e s ug g e s t ion du r i ng a r e c e nt conversation with a colleague was “why not ask them?” Brilliant idea! Poll attendees immediately following the event and then approach them again six months later – ask them questions that are appropriate for your specific event. Do not forget to extend the conversation to vendors and suppliers. Create a social impact story for your event, humanizing the decisions that were made, focusing on the ripples that might have been made. As Mother Teresa once said: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Judy Kucharuk is a green meeting specialist a n d o w n e r of Fo ot p r int M a n age m e nt Systems Inc., a sustainable event planning and consultancy firm in British Columbia. Judy is a wr ite r, s peake r and meet ing innovator, most recently co-creating and launching a new conference session style known as Bl!nk. She is currently serving on the GMIC Canada Chapter in Formation Board as the incoming President. Follow @ judyl a in e o n t w it t e r o r h e r bl og at www.managefootprint.blogspot.com.
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