PRIMA describes the meeting as “the only conference dedicated to public-sector risk management and the unique circumstances that go along with it.” Last year’s Annual Conference drew 721 paying attendees and 95 exhibitors, and this year PRIMA expects 10-percent increases in both groups.
PRIMA places a big emphasis on keeping its Annual Conference “fresh and exciting,” according to Jen Welan Morris, PRIMA’s manager of meetings and conferences. “Our attendees are government employees whose budgets have been hit hard by the economy. They don’t get the opportunity to travel often, so we have to make sure our conference is their must-attend event each year. We are challenged each year with finding new sponsors and exhibitors that can help to enhance attendees’ experiences at our conference.”
Additionally, PRIMA’s 2012 Annual Conference was “one of the best meetings we’ve had in several years,” Morris said, so the pressure is on to “keep the momentum going for 2013.” There’s also the fact that the 2010 meeting was held in Orlando, which has PRIMA determined to “remind members that Tampa has a very different look and feel. … This will not be the same conference that we had in 2010.”
On a general level, Morris is “working hard to stay on top, or even ahead, of current trends when it comes to F&B, exhibit halls, etc. in order to generate excitement for the conference.” More specifically, this year PRIMA is prioritizing its use of social media as a way to help build buzz.
As part of its education program, PRIMA will address a variety of topics ripped from the headlines — including school shootings. “Two sessions have been dedicated to this,” Morris said. “Both contain lessons learned from previous shootings and threatening scenarios and reviews of emergency-management crisis plans.”
Another hot-button issue is fracking, the controversial drilling technique for oil and natural gas, which “has several implications for the infrastructure of public entities,” Morris said. “One of PRIMA’s hot-topic sessions will address these implications and how to effectively manage the risks that fracking imposes.”
Add in a welcome reception on the first night, an exhibit-hall networking reception on the second night, and a big off-site reception on the final night — plus an official lunch every day — and you’ve got a packed agenda. “The goal of every Annual Conference,” Morris said, “is to have members walk away feeling that their money was well-spent, they learned valuable new information that they can use on the job, and they had the chance to reconnect with old friends and make new connections as well. And we always want them to leave feeling excited for the next year’s Annual Conference.”
Convene’s Pre-Con/Post-Con series asks meeting planners about their challenges and how they intend to address them (Pre-Con), and then circles back around after the meeting has occurred (Post-Con) to see how well they worked out.