To the Point

Inspiration for the Year Ahead

Convening Leaders 2016 opens our eyes to huge possibilities.

As soon as Jan. 1 hits, we shift our minds to what may lie ahead in this brand-new year — which makes it an ideal time for PCMA’s Convening Leaders. It’s the best way for the meetings-industry community to start things off on the right foot, as we focus on what we can bring to the table, connect face-to-face with our colleagues, and get inspired. 

Convening Leaders 2016 has just come to an end as I write this, but I hope the event is more of a beginning for our attendees as they move forward on their professional journeys.

When we decided to bring our program to Vancouver, we knew the location would be an inspiring one. It certainly did not disappoint. Just walking past the huge windows in the Vancouver Convention Centre — taking in the surrounding water and mountain vistas — we couldn’t help but be reminded of the tremendous possibilities out there for ourselves, our meetings, and our industry.

Since that potential can only be fully realized when we are at our best, we also added a focus on health and wellbeing through education sessions, a wellness center, and special events — one, so our attendees could be in the best shape to learn and grow; and two, so they could see how to offer similar opportunities to their attendees. And of course, events like morning yoga classes and a fun run also created opportunities to get to know fellow attendees — an added bonus.

The education component of our meeting started off strong, with Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, as our Opening General Session speaker. He spoke candidly on the disruptors facing the hospitality industry today and how he envisions the hotel of the future. We also gave everyone a peek at Marriott and PCMA’s collaborative, groundbreaking research project: “The Future of Meetings and Events.”

We closed the meeting on a high note with Amy Purdy, who despite losing her legs, kidneys, and spleen to meningococcal meningitis at age 19 has gone on to a career as a model, actress, champion Paralympic snowboarder, and finalist on TV’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Listening to her was an inspiration. Sure, there are obstacles in our path, but are they roadblocks or steppingstones to something better? 

In between, we experimented with space and sound in our Learning Lounge. Our Women@Work workshop sold out, and our Corporate Meetings HQ and Medical Meetings HQ were a hit.

While not every initiative might have been a home run, we’re already evaluating this year’s event and talking about how to improve next year.

Thank you to our incredible Vancouver hosts, our production partners, speakers, strategic partners, and every single person who joined us there. Thanks also to those who took part in our hybrid event, Convening Leaders Live, and to Meetings + Conventions Calgary for making it complimentary for all. We look forward to continuing the momentum in the year ahead!

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.