The Professional Convention Management Association’s [PCMA] 2016 Convening Leaders brought together 3,826 meeting planners and suppliers, from 36 different countries, to learn how to cultivate creative moments through both their experience and the education sessions offered.
“The Convening Leaders 2016 creative construct was grounded in transparency,” said Deborah Sexton, PCMA President and CEO. “One of our goals for Convening Leaders this year was to explain and show everything from new programs to the flexibility of the convention center itself.”
Many of the new additions to this year’s conference, including the sold out Women@Work, the Medical Meetings HQ and Corporate Meetings HQ spaces, an expanded hybrid MashUp Studio and other features, demonstrated PCMA’s dedication to its audience and the industry as a whole. According to Sexton, “We’re like an experimental lab. Our goal is to try new things so you don’t have to take the risks. Let us take the risks, and you take the benefits.”
One risk was keeping the entire education program in the Vancouver Convention Centre West building – maximizing the participant’s experience, by creating more energy and enabling the ease of making connections with colleagues. This translated into Freeman’s daily flipping of the morning general sessions room into separate break out rooms – with practice, they got the flip down to less than 29 minutes while participants enjoyed a networking break. See the time lapse video here.
Industry educational tracks this year included: Leading Change, Being your Best, Meeting and Experience Design, Operational Strategy, Event Technology and Intelligence and Globalization. Additionally, the PCMA Business School and PCMA’s Thought Leader series offered participates the opportunity to enhance business acumen and professional development.
“Working with a very passionate group of volunteer leaders with PCMA, our team strived to curate educational content that would resonate with our participants and give them solid takeaways to begin using immediately,” say Kelly Peacy, PCMA SVP of Education and Events. At the same time, it was important for us to showcase unique delivery methods such as the environments within our Learning Lounge and TechCentral, which were spread throughout the Vancouver Convention Centre West building. Our goal was to encourage exploration and learning at every turn.”
Convening Leaders Went Big Behind Screen
Participants from 22 countries participated in Convening Leaders LIVE – the onsite meeting’s accompanying online broadcast. Over the course of the 3 day broadcast, attendance was 1,373 participants; a 28 percent increase from 2015. Fifty percent of the participants spent six+ hours engaging with content and another 36 percent more than ten hours.
The Virtual Edge Institute [VEI], the producer of Convening Leaders LIVE, expanded their MashUp Studio coverage in Vancouver – prominently placed in the Learning Lounge the Studio offered hybrid broadcast educational tips to bypassing onsite participants. “With a Pacific Time Zone program schedule, our LIVE broadcast sought to engage our further east time zone audience before they got lost in their work day,” said VEI Executive Director, Jennifer Kingen Kush. “By kicking off each morning with pre-general session live interviews, featuring upcoming speakers and industry leaders, we captured our audience’s attention early and then continued host interviews throughout program breaks.”
Leaving A Legacy
Convening Leaders left a lasting impact on the city of Vancouver. Nearly 130 Hospitality Helping Hands volunteers joined the staff of the Britannia Community Services Centre to build and design mud pie kitchens – using all natural materials – resulting in new playscapes to provide kids the immeasurable benefit of free and imaginative play. Volunteers also created fabric murals on wire fencing to produce a more inviting and inspired outdoor environment, built individual trellis structures so kids can grow fresh plants and flowers, and beautified the inside of the daycares with fresh coats of colorful paint.
Through PCMA’s Network For the Needy initiative, attendees donated items such as men’s underwear, shaving gel & razors, deodorant, lip balm, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion to Covenant House Vancouver – and their Crisis Program that takes in homeless, runaway and at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
The PCMA Education Foundation sold out this year’s Party With A Purpose, with over 1250 donating participants. In its 23rd year, PWAP has raised more than $2.2 million for a range of notable causes as PCMA leads the meeting industry’s efforts to make a difference in communities around the world. Post-party, Founding and Sustaining Sponsor, Global Experience Specialists Inc. (GES) presented a check for $25,000 to the local BC Hospitality Foundation – an organization that supports food, beverage, and hospitality industry members and awards scholarships to hospitality and culinary students who are enrolled in partner post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.
“Supporting the theme of creativity, the Foundation worked with our generous host hotel Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre to transform a ballroom into an energetic pop-up nightclub for Party With A Purpose,” said Meredith Rollins, PCMA Education Foundation Executive Director. “This new format helped maximize net proceeds to over $150,000; funds that will return back to the industry for scholarships, grants and research.”
What’s in store for the year ahead? Join Deborah Sexton and Sherrif Karamat, PCMA COO, as they discuss PCMA’s future strategy here.
About Professional Convention Management Association
PCMA is the multi-channel professional resource and premier educator for leaders in the meetings, conventions, events and trade show industries. PCMA provides their 6,500+ members with a community of likeminded colleagues, innovative education and creative global solutions to enhance both their professional development and their organization’s face-to-face and virtual connections. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA has 17 chapters throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico with members in more than 35 countries. For additional information, please visit the PCMA Web site at pcma.org.