To the Point

Fresh-Squeezed Education, Networking, and Experiences

Convening Leaders 2013 starts the year off right.

What do you get when you combine abundant sunshine, roller coasters, flamingos, thought-provoking education sessions, innovative experiences, a healthy dose of fun and camaraderie, and thousands of meeting professionals? I’d have to say the answer is one dynamic and energizing event.

Convening Leaders 2013 in Orlando just came to a close, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have spent those three plus days with so many of you. By the time you read this, I hope you’re putting all your new contacts and experiences to good use. And for those of you who couldn’t make it, now is the time to start planning to join us next year.

Like so many of you, at PCMA we start plotting next year’s annual meeting, well, during our current meeting. We stay close to the action, watching intently how things go – what works and what doesn’t – and talking to attendees. As soon as we get back home, we review surveys, crunch numbers, and discuss how to improve.

Then we’re off scouting out brand new opportunities to innovate and take risks at next year’s meeting. Because our members are people who do what we do for a living, we feel it is our responsibility to provide you with innovative meeting experiences. We do our best to make everything work, but if something flops, it’s not a failure – it’s a learning opportunity. (Which is exactly the way several conferences entirely devoted to failure see things in this month’s cover story.)

The learning opportunity is not only ours, but belongs to everyone in attendance. Our unofficial meeting motto is: We take risks so you don’t have to.

This year’s meeting brought many innovations and new elements. There was “The Show Reimagined” – a networking lunch that experimented with food delivery while providing an interactive educational experience on the trade show of the future. “Lunch Four Different Ways” at the Celebrate PCMA Awards Luncheon was an attempt to make a huge sit-down program feel more intimate. The room was divided into four sections, each with different lighting, decor, food, and service styles.

We also created a Corporate HQ – a place for our growing group of corporate meeting professionals to gather for conversation, education sessions, and business simulation focused on strategic meetings management. We added PCMA Business School – a series of education sessions designed to boost attendees’ skills in marketing, finance, and management.

We also tried our hand at gamification, experimented with room sets and formats, and fine-tuned our popular Learning Lounge. Plus, we delivered a full-fledged virtual experience for hundreds more remote attendees.

Final attendance figures are still being tallied at press time, but it looks like we had record attendance again this year, in terms of both meeting professionals and overall. I thank all of you who joined us, and encourage your feedback so we can continue to provide the best program year after year.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.