PCMA Hits the Mark With Cutting-edge Education

January 12, 2012

When it comes to top-notch industry education, there was something for everyone at the Professional Convention Management Association’s annual meeting, Convening Leaders.

Held Jan. 8-11 at the San Diego Convention Center, the 56th annual event for meeting planners and suppliers offered mpre than 60 education sessions for a wide range of experience levels, industry segments and categories, including workshop-style classes, panel discussions, informal group discussions and two general sessions following a TED Conference-style format.

Fine-tuning its meetings industry education to stay ahead of trends has always been a top priority for PCMA, according to Susan Katz, PCMA outgoing chairman of the board, but this year, one major focus was creating shorter, more interactive sessions designed to encourage participation and networking while delivering content in a more engaging way.

“We’ve added different session lengths, moved our general sessions around and we’ve also enhanced the Learning Lounge with more options and extended hours,” Katz said.

She added, “We’ve also integrated the Virtual Edge Summit directly into our program, allowing you better access to the virtual sessions you’re interested in.

During the course of the event, attendees appeared to be taking full advantage of the plentiful educational opportunities, including the Opening General Session, “Rules For Epic Wins that Fascinate.”

Comprised of three speakers addressing diversely different topics under the common theme of how to make meetings more meaningful, interesting and exciting for attendees, the session included Dr. John Medina, developmental molecular biologist and author of “Brain Rules, 12 Principles For Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School,” virtual speaker Jane McGonigal, game designer and author of “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” and Sally Hogshead, brand consultant and author of “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation.”

PCMA’s educational programming also offered several choices for exhibition and event attendees, including “Forecasting Exhibition and Event Outcomes.” Led by speaker Hal Vandiver, executive consultant of the Material Handling Industry of America, the session focused on how to enhance the framework for exhibition and event planning by using the knowledge of business cycles to more accurately predict revenue and other outcomes.

Deidre Clemmons, vice president of meetings for the Airports Council International, said she enjoyed the session, but thought it could have gone a few steps further.

“One of the things I thought could enhance this presentation is communicating to meeting planners that since we’re often not the subject matter experts in the industries we represent, we have to do a better job of educating ourselves on the economic factors that might impact our particular industries,” Clemmons said. “That’s the only way you’re going to grow a successful show.”

“Do You Know What Your Convention Is Worth?” was a three-person panel discussion led by Christine Shimasaki, managing director of empowerMINT.com.

Besides discussing the importance of being able to declare the value of meetings and events for negotiation purposes, the session also highlighted the Destination Marketing Association’s new Economic Impact Calendar, a helpful new event measurement tool that is now being used by 80 convention and visitors bureaus.

Maggie Domond, director of meeting services of the Heart Rhythm Society, said she was not only learning a lot from the session, but also was impressed with the overall quality of education at this year’s event.

“I attended last year’s PCMA and I think this year’s education is much stronger,” Domond said. “I’ve been in the industry for 23 years, so I’m here to learn new things, learn to look at meetings a little differently and learn about the value of the meetings industry.”

PCMA’s 2013 Convening Leaders will take place Jan. 13-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

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