Planner’s Notebook

Initiating Two Initiatives

When is a business school not a business school? Or a trade show not a trade show? At PCMA 2013 Convening Leaders.

As I get ready for another planning visit to Orlando, home of our upcoming Convening Leaders annual meeting, here’s a peek at two new annual meeting initiatives I’m excited about.

Since we believe a strong working knowledge of key business principles provides the foundation for today’s senior-level meeting professional, we’ll be featuring an education session track called PCMA Business School. Subject-matter experts outside of the meetings industry on such topics as strategy, financial management, and sales and marketing will help you navigate a fast-moving meetings-business environment.

These sessions will be held in a business-school–style lecture hall at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) that seats only 160 comfortably. So while the sessions are complimentary and included in Convening Leaders registration, we must require pre-registration to control capacity and ensure a quality experience. This is somewhat contrary to the way we run most of our concurrent sessions, and we are working on ways to control access to the room without using a traditional paper ticket. We’ll be experimenting with electronic access control on name badges, perhaps in addition to actual paper tickets — as well as good, old-fashioned pre-registration lists. We’ll see what works best for our group.

Our second initiative is intended to help many of our attendees whose roles require that they deliver revenue and value via trade shows and exhibits. While an exhibit hall is not a component of Convening Leaders, making our annual meeting highly interactive is. Our new The Show Re-Imagined, a walk-through section of the OCCC, will demonstrate what a trade show or exhibit floor could look like now and in the future.

I like to think of it as an interactive museum-exhibit–inspired environment with full- and bite-sized education sessions about exhibit management. We will feature different booth options, layouts, and floor concepts — including a Share Your Floorplan section where colleagues can inspire each other with their own floorplans.

I’m struggling with several pieces of this new initiative. First and foremost, we want to ensure that we offer relevant educational exhibit-management content. Second, it’s critical to get the message across that this is a new learning experience — and not a buyer/ seller exhibit hall. And lastly, there’s the logistical execution: I’m certain our plans will not fit the traditional trade-show and exhibit modalities. If we don’t want aisle carpet in straight lines, or if our floor plan calls for electric in places where it doesn’t currently exist, how will this impact our costs and design?

What I love about writing this column is getting my fellow meeting professionals’ feedback. More often than not, I’ve been able to implement your ideas to make our meetings even better. Don’t stop now — email me at


Kelly Peacy, CAE, CMP

Kelly Peacy, CAE, is CAE, CMP, is senior vice president of education and events at PCMA.