By Sandy Biback, CMP, CMM
I don’t usually promote one association over another. That said, I was privileged to obtain a faculty scholarship to attend the recent 2013 PCMA Convening Leaders conference, in Orlando, Fla.
My one big takeaway: Don’t think of your conference audiences as ‘out there’ (beaming-in by computer only for some sessions) and those on-site as face-to-face. We need to consider a convergence of audiences.
Yes, market the conference as face-to-face AND give long-distance opportunities. Statistics prove that someone who accesses remotely turns into next year’s face-to-face attendee. And you are then widening your audience.
Widen your audience, create more revenue streams and sponsorship opportunities.
Another great tidbit: Your website must be mobile and your conference must have a mobile app. PCMA this year featured a terrific mobile app that I referred to often and still refer to. Since there are still tried-and-true paper freaks (me included), we also got a booklet with the same information, which I referred to from time to time, for room numbers, etc. In addition, the mobile app allowed me to download session PowerPoints, info about the speakers, evaluation surveys and so much more.
The mobile app also speaks to the conference not being over when it’s over. It’s about the legs of the conference: what takes place after that continues to keep people engaged? The mobile app also had a game on it, which is becoming more important to engage the attendees. And what a wonderful opportunity for sponsors!
Let me count the other ways I benefitted from PCMA:
1. Biggest, of course, is face-to-face and meeting up with colleagues and friends I haven’t seen in quite some time. An old friend, Bonnie Wallsh, and I had great gab sessions.
2. In the faculty sessions, I learned about an opportunity to present research findings at another industry conference. I’m currently following up on that with staff at Centennial College and believe we have an excellent chance of being accepted.
3. Where else can you get up for a 6:00 a.m. breakfast with fellow CMPs (about 250 of us). Thank you, Nashville CVB.
4.A plethora of education sessions, from learning lounges to one-hour sessions. And don’t forget the education that takes place in the hallways between sessions!
5. Where else but at an industry conference can you truly feel value for what we do and be appreciated for what we do?
6. Where else can you let your association try things that you may or may not like to try? Some were worthwhile; others should go back to the parking lot. A luncheon divided into four types of meals and atmospheres was fabulous. Thanks, Tourisme Montreal. A re-imagining of a trade-show floor, for me and others, was not so great.
7. Let’s not forget the fun nights at Universal and SeaWorld! Thank you, Orlando.
8. Canada did itself proud! We won many awards and I’d like to acknowledge them all here:
2012 Member Get A Member Campaign Award:
Lina Farrell, Canada East Chapter and director of national association sales for the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel & Conference Centre.
2012 Emerging Leader Award:
Madeleine Bart, director of communications for PCMA Canada East and event co-ordinator at CICA.
2012 Outstanding Service to a Chapter Award:
Heidi Welker, president, PCMA Canada East and VP marketing, AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Services.
2012 Innovation Award:
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
2012 Spirit Award:
Vancouver Convention Centre.
Better make sure you get involved in your association and really make it a point to attend the annual conference for top-notch education and networking. Thank you, PCMA, for the scholarship.