Energy, Expectations High This Year at PCMA Convening Leaders

January 17, 2013

“Design, Innovate and Engage” was the theme for the 2013Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders annual meeting that took place Jan. 13-16 in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center.

But, another word kept coming up in conversation with attendees - Energy. And energy and expectation certainly were high this year.

Deborah Sexton, PCMA’s president and CEO, said at a press conference the PCMA board and education committee is tasked with taking risks.

She added some of the risks they took at this year’s event included registration at the host hotels, bringing in speakers for the general session who are not known to the industry and The Show Reimagined Networking luncheon that took place on Tuesday.

Attendance numbers will not be made available until February, according to PCMA officials, when the organization has had a chance to verify an accurate count. They did confirm, however, they expected numbers would be on par or higher than last year’s event in San Diego that drew more than 3,700 attendees.

PCMA also had a hybrid extension of the live event that offered three days of sessions, including all of the general sessions and several of the more specialized ones.

Before the event even kicked off, Sexton said 700 attendees were signed up for the hybrid event.

General Session speakers this year were Morten Hansen, co-author, “Great by Choice”; Stephane Garelli, professor for the International Institute for Management Development and the University of Lausanne; Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs Columnist for The New York Times and author of “The World is Flat; That Used to Be Us”; and David Novak, chairman and CEO of the Yum! Brands.

The Show Reimagined reception-style luncheon gave attendees the opportunity to “roam and explore.”

This was an environment where one could learn about cutting edge technology, experiment with different learning styles and learn how their peers were experimenting with the show floor.

Carol Mackenzie of MCI Group Canada said, “PCMA is the entrepreneurs of our industry.”

Some of the education highlights included Corporate HQ designed specifically for corporate planners. It is described as two parts education and one part networking. Corporate planners were able to participate in conversations, sessions and business simulations with their peers.

Also featured were sessions based on recent research funded by the PCMA Education Foundation. Attendees had a chance to hear directly from the researchers themselves how use the research findings to improve their own meetings.

“It’s PCMA. It’s always wonderful,” said Tanya Kirchner, CMP, ASIS International.

She added, “What I learned this week was that we need to make changes to keep attendees active after the show.”

Shannon Burke, CMP, assistant director of conference and meetings at National Association for College Admission Counseling, appreciated many of the new ideas implemented at Convening Leaders.

“There’s a lot of stuff that I’ll steal for our own events,” she added.

Many Convening Leaders attendees participated in several charitable activities. PCMA’s Hospitality Helping Hands project at Clean the World (CTW) assembled 1,897 ONE Project hygiene kits and donated $8,213 to the cause. The assembled hygiene kits were donated to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.

At the Coalition Center, volunteers also gave back by serving breakfast to the residents, sorting donations as well as painting the Coalition’s building’s exterior. A cash donation of $4,313 was given on behalf of PCMA to help further the Coalition’s mission.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Lounge collected more than $3037.00 in donations and 290 lbs of school supplies to support of the PCMA Network for the Needy® Donation Drive for A Gift for Teaching (AGFT).

Of course, the crown jewel of PCMA’s charitable efforts took place on Monday, Jan. 14, where more than 1500 attendees enjoyed a lively evening at Hard Rock Live Orlando. This event generated $25,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida.

“Expectations are high and it’s been a good event. As a vendor what I like is the integration between all participants with very different businesses and backgrounds,” said Michael Douglas, business development director at GenieMobile.

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