Last week I attended the Annual Convening Leaders conference hosted by PCMA in San Francisco. PCMA stands for Professional Convention Management Association. I attended their annual meeting at Moscone Center in San Francisco with 5000 other planners and suppliers. https://conveningleaders.org/
Here are some of my top take aways:
BEST SPONSOR: Montreal. They nailed it. They were everywhere. They had a bright red "locker lounge" at the arrival to the convention center. Everyone comes from different hotels and spends the day at the convention center. Instead of lugging bags and purses around, why not store in a locker--genius! They made it a safe area, locked up, with a lounge in front so you can relax & mingle with Montreal sales reps, while you wait for the next session. They also sponsored the bathrooms. Pourquoi? OUI OUI YES, the latrine. It was amazing. As I approached the bathroom, I heard lovely light French music playing, I had to follow the sounds. Inside the bathroom was a French bathroom attendant offering us various French hand lotions and mints. All of the soaps had been interchanged from the boring industrial pink soap we see at all convention centers to lovely floral scented soaps. It was the best smelling soap I'd ever used. There were live fresh beautiful floral displays on the sinks and it was a very relaxing, well scented, and stylish experience. Between the lockers and the bathrooms Montreal really put their stamp on the event and certainly kept on my radar. I am not saying your sponsors for all your meetings need to do a full latrine take over. I am saying, think about all the little details of the meeting and the unique, easy, and cost- effective sponsorship options that can be available--outside the trade show floor. This one was memorable.
BEST ACTIVATION ON TRADE SHOW FLOOR: Song Confessional. Inside the Visit Austin trade show booth they had a rad blue trailer and invited people to go inside the trailer to tell a story. As I told my story, a man, behind the curtain was listening, asking questions and communicating to a song writer in Austin at a studio. At the end of my storytelling, they wrote a song, about my story and emailed to me. The whole experience took about 5 minutes and then when I came out, I talked to everyone in the booth about Austin, about the experience etc. Not only was it a way to draw me into their trade show booth, it was also a conversation piece that I had while in line waiting to go in and on my way out with other peers and colleagues that do what I do. I think if you're selling a city, a widget or a service, something interactive and fun like this is a great way to bring people into your trade show booth. http://walkerlukenssongconfessional.com/song-confessional
OTHER NOTABLE TRADE SHOW FLOOR ACTIVATIONS:
Juggling! Hilton Worldwide had a professional juggler inviting attendees to juggle with him. He gave me a quick juggling lesson and then turned me and my 3 oranges loose to juggle on my own. I successfully juggled for 10 seconds and even had a juggle off with another client. It disarmed all of us & inspired a little sense of play. Of course we stayed to hear all the great things about Hilton after we juggled but the spectacle and the competition element drew me in and kept me there
Vancouver: They had 5 minute chair yoga, meditation & massage every hour on the hour. I did not participate but did watch and people were engaged. After they did their 5 minutes of zen, Vancouver reps chatted about their city. It was set off to the corner in the most quiet of spaces. I even secretly took a phone call in one of their chair yoga zones, it was that quiet on a busy trade show floor.
OPENING & CLOSING SESSION ENTERTAINMENT:
HAMILTON: This was the second time in 3 months that I have seen a conference open up with a Hamilton theme. Actors were disbursed in the audience, standing up one by one rapping to the tune of a popular Hamilton song, slowly walking to the stage and then joining the rest of the actors on stage for a robust and inspiring opening. On both occasions, each totally different organization replaced the Hamilton lyrics with custom lyrics specific to that organization. It was a great way to open up each keynote.
LIGHTS-DRUMS-ACTION: Orlando sponsored an electric opening to the final day keynote session. The lights were down, and it completely pitch black. The entertainers on the stage wore black with lights that flashed every time they hit their drums. The drum vibe was loud, the music was awesome and the Orlando/Central Florida mission and words scrolled brightly on the screen above our heads as the drums sounded. This was a great way for a sponsor to have visibility and a wonderful way to keep our attention on the last day prior to the final keynote.
OTHER FINAL NOTERS ON THINGS THAT STUCK OUT TO ME:
No pipe and drape on the trade show floor. (it was so clean and so nice)
The trend for all conferences now is "Transparency"
Hosting a meeting in one of the 11 states that have legalized marijuana. Best practices.
FAVORITE QUOTE FROM A SPEAKER: "Instead of looking at your competition as adverse, look at them as a friendly rival. What can you learn from them? How can they make you better? Study them, learn from them and be a better rival" Simon Sinek
If you want pictures, videos or more information from my experience at Convening Leaders PCMA 2020 Conference, reach out anytime. I am happy to share.