Archive for the 'Meetings' Category


Small but mighty meetings

cwmeeting1.jpg.441x331_defaultThink back to your college days. Remember those massively packed, overwhelming lecture halls? Was it hard to pay attention? Did you feel like a minnow in a sea of students swimming upstream?

I did.

Then, think back to your smaller classes (even if that only happened in high school). Wasn’t it easier to focus? Didn’t you feel a bit more important when the professor/teacher actually saw your hand…and called on you?

Now apply those same scenarios to the workplace. How much do you really get done in hugely packed meeting rooms?

When it comes to strategy and long-term planning, small groups are much more effective. Confidence is higher. Communication flows.

And so, it makes sense that in a recent Successful Meetings survey on small meeting trends for this year, event professionals ranked strategizing as the best goal for small meetings. Training came in a close second and team building took the No. 3 spot.

Also in the survey, Successful Meetings members viewed meetings with 25 people or fewer as “small meetings.”

As for location? A city center took the top spot. Think place-based education, yes? Hosting small meetings allow organizations to showcase local hot spots – and yes, even a favorite eatery works. But resort and hotels nearly tied for second and third place favorites.

However, surprisingly, 46 percent of respondents indicated they don’t use social media for small meetings. Perhaps that’s because face-to-face interaction is conducive to small settings, but it seems social media should have a presence, regardless of size. At the same time, 70 percent of survey participants indicated they don’t offer online components.

That said, of those who indicated they employ social media for small meetings, Facebook was the most common platform. Members ranked LinkedIn and Twitter as second and third.

The biggest challenge to small meetings planning? Room negotiation rates. Finding available dates presents the second largest challenge, followed by securing suitable function space onsite.

So what do you think? What trends do you predict for small meetings in 2016?


Cool app! Now what?

5-steps-to-launch-checklist(infographic)It seems there’s an app for everything, right?

Meeting and event professionals are raving about event apps, which allow everything from registration to hotel check-in to real-time social media conversation.

But if no one knows about an app, it’s worthless. The trick, according to Results at Hand, is to promote it.

Results at Hand just released “5 Steps to Successfully Launch an Event App,” an infographic with tips for gaining loyal app lovers.

The five steps: email marketing; website; publications; social media; and venue signage.

Think about these “steps” as touch points – the vehicles through which you reach your event attendees. While text can be different depending on the audience – you probably want fun text for social media but serious for your website – the goal should be the same: promote.

Email marketing

Email is an effective way to reach a large group of people, and with email, you can provide event participants with directions about how to use the app. Start with your registration list, but also, when you email people about attending an event, make sure to plug your app.

Thanks to Google, a company’s website is probably the first place event attendees looking for details will visit. So create a new section with details about the app. Or, better yet, let them download it from the website.

All written communications should include information about the app, especially program materials. For event guides, explain to attendees how to get the event schedule via your app. Or write a feature story about the app in your trade magazine.

Social media
Messaging may be different across social media platforms, but leading up to the event, use social networks to share app tips and submit feedback.
Tip from Results at Hand: Remember to have fun with your posts! Run a contest, start discussions, share setup pics and shout out to your speakers.

Venue signage
Signage should be placed around the venue and should display download instructions for the app as well as QR codes.


Making friends…not just a sale

Event/meeting planners: Remember the days of paper RFPs?

Well, some of you may still be doing those…but technology has revolutionized the meetings industry – on both sides.

According to a new Social Tables report, technological advances and social media have changed the way hotel sales teams network with meeting planners.

Full Report_ How Technology is Increasing Group Revenue at Top Hotels_Page_06“With most people now familiar with a wide range of devices, software and apps, this is spurring a rise in ‘social selling,’ where hotel sales teams are often building relationships with planners on social media to establish common bonds outside the sales process,” the report says.

Social selling is the philosophy that sales people approach customers first as a person, then as a sales person and lastly as a company. It’s about being empathetic and genuine, rather than just trying to “land a client.”

And LinkedIn is proving to be an effective tool, which sales staff use to research clients’ profiles to determine their needs. LinkedIn and other social media platforms allow sales teams to gather important company information, such as business philosophies, missions and goals.

“Social selling and social media are ways to rebuild relationships between buyers and suppliers, as long as both parties come to the table in the spirit of co-creation to strategize about meeting design and deliverables as much as hammering out a sales deal,” the authors wrote.

And with the advent of technology comes digital sharing systems. The report states hotel brands are creating internal systems to share client information among venues. This knowledge sharing is a huge boon for meeting planners, who as a result don’t have to start from scratch with every transaction. At the same time, hotels are using the portals to earmark client preferences, which in turn fosters loyalty.

In addition, mobile and cloud-based technologies have allowed hotel sales teams to work with event planners more strategically and efficiently.

“Key is being able to make changes and track analytics from remote locations on mobile devices in real time via cloud-based platforms, with the additional ability to customize levels of access for different partners and colleagues, if desired,” Social Tables says.

Full Report_ How Technology is Increasing Group Revenue at Top Hotels_Page_03In other words: Meeting planners rarely work strictly 8-to-5 jobs, and cloud technology allows information to be stored and accessible 24-7.

Some key takeaways from the report:

  • Beyond rates, dates and space, hotel sales executives are delivering more content and are being asked to provide much more detail about the “experience” of the hotel. Mimicking other industries, hotels are abuzz with content marketing.
  • Technology is now integrated into the entire sales process, with electronic RFPs and registration software. Social Tables says, “Major hospitality brands are developing a full suite of event technology products in-house that are significantly assisting planners with end-to-end meeting management.”
  • Meanwhile, independent hotels and smaller hotel brands are using technology to partner with third-party venues and software vendors to provide highly customized, full-service meeting and event programs. Regardless of size and space, hotels are investing in integrated digital content platforms. And they’re also engaging in social media conversations with community players, suppliers and buyers.

So…what do you think meeting planners? Have things changed?


Millennial-friendly meetings: Bring on the couches and big screens

millennialsGoogle images of millennials and you’ll find young professionals connected to their smart phones and tablets. You might also find images of colorful workplaces and nontraditional desks. Maybe even a collaborative thinking space.

Much to Baby Boomers’ chagrin, it’s a different world, especially since Gen Y now comprises the majority of the workforce.

And with that comes a different set of expectations: Skype meetings and coffee shop conversations have replaced hours-long meetings.

All this aside, while millennials crave technology, they still value face-to-face meetings – albeit with a different flare – and understand the importance of networking, according to a new report by Skift and Meetings Mean Business.

“Meetings and events offer the best possible platform to help millennials expand their networks, customize their self-education and personalize their career paths,” the report says. “That is why millennials are advocating for more effective meeting design and better ways to connect, both physically and virtually, in a shifting and highly competitive global marketplace.”

Translated: Associations should think differently about events.

Video plays a huge role in the lives of young professionals, as evidenced by the boom of YouTube and Vine. So event planners shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate video into presentations, and, better yet, dabble in live streaming for their events.

networking3In fact, hybrid meetings are becoming increasingly popular, but not just for attendees offsite. Since millennials value networking opportunities, associations could explore broadcasting sessions throughout a venue to allow attendees to learn and network simultaneously. This could spur the advent of “networking places,” comfortable rooms with computers, couches and food and drinks.

At the same time, the report suggests mobile is the future of millennial-friendly meetings. Gen Y wants event apps and social media platforms. Real-time updates via social media allows attendees to join group conversations, regardless of their location.

Of course, all this is good news for vendors and IT providers, both of whom, the report predicts, could see steady growth in businesses from organizations looking to improve their events.

The Skift and Meetings Mean Business report offers dozens of case studies and examples of organizations that have successfully embraced millennials. But here are some key takeaways:

  • Millennials value face-to-face networking experiences (in fact they rank them as the top motivation for attending events), but such experiences should be enhanced with social media capabilities and technology. Enter the rise of hybrid meetings.
  • Millennials expect technology, including fast Wi-Fi, hybrid content, social media conversation, web-based audience participation platforms, comprehensive event apps and other technology to be seamlessly integrated into modern meeting design.
  • More than previous generations, Gen Yers choose professional events based on location. Cities that offer a rich nightlife and awesome attractions will attract young professionals much more than traditional conference cities.
  • Despite common perceptions, millennials’ top communication preference is face-to-face. Second was email and third was texting.

social_media_strategy111Finally, the report offers some additional tips for engaging millennials:

Include millennials in social media and website development — Even though many millennials are still developing their skill sets, they want to feel like their opinion is respected and they’re helping co-create meeting content and experiences. Create a millennial task force for special projects so they can work together on shared goals like new social media campaigns, pre/post online content, app content conversion to web-based platforms, etc.

Kill the cocktail reception — Well, maybe not kill it but definitely add some interactive knowledge sharing that helps millennials develop personally or professionally. Many millennials in this report said the traditional cocktail reception is intimidating because it feels so unnatural to start a conversation without some kind of shared interest beyond the event theme. Apps like MeetingMatch are becoming popular, where attendees can find people with similar interests, and app developers like DoubleDutch and QuickMobile are integrating similar functionality into their products.

Create young professional SIGs — Everyone loves special interest groups because they’re smaller gatherings with people who identify with a niche subject. Planners should think about creating one solely for young professionals, especially at association conventions, where millennials can let down their guard and network in a more relaxed ambiance.


Don’t be an Association Hoarder: Use Professional Organizer Techniques to Revamp Your Programs

John Ricco

John Ricco, vice president, Partners in Association Management

This month’s guest blog post is by John Ricco, vice president, Partners in Association Management. It originally ran on Partners Preceptors, a blog by Partners in Association Management.

Boxes. In the association world, we know boxes – literally and figuratively. We check them off our to-do lists; we’re encouraged to “think outside” them; and we pack them full for conventions and meetings. The problem with association hoarders is that we often hold those boxes (both the literal and figurative ones) as sacred objects not to be moved, touched or heaven forbid – tossed.  But do not be afraid to hoist your boxes overhead and with a casual tilt, dump the contents for a fresh perspective on your organization’s programs and services.

Professional organizers (yes, there is such a thing, and of course, they have their own association) tell us the best way get organized and obtain a clear train of thought is to start anew. We’ve all seen an episode (or 10) of the “Hoarding” television show where the unsuspecting hoarder is thrust into an intervention where family, friends and professionals attempt to convince them to let go of a house full of plastic tubs of expired grocery coupons, garage sale “treasures” and the like. In these extreme cases, the organizers try to convince the hoarder to remove everything from the house and then decide what is important enough to go back in.

Consider trying the same approach with your association’s programs and services. We recently did this with one of our association clients with fantastic success. The group’s convention had gotten stale and something was missing. So we overhauled the event by dumping the box out and started fresh. The process is basic but complex at the same time. How do you go about it? Using a convention as an example:

1) Identify:

    • The “MUST haves” (education and networking)
    • The “LIKE to haves” (that $30,000 ultra-luxe up-lit evening networking lounge)
    • The dumpster items (the ice sculpture “vodka luge”)

2) Determine where the “MUST haves” will go back in your box.
3) See what room is left for the “LIKE to haves.”
4) Throw the rest in the dumpster.
5) Get buy-in from the appropriate stakeholders.

With a good deal of apprehension and uncertainty, we changed our date patterns, nixed receptions, added luncheons, turned the schedule on its head and added new, fun networking events – all with the goal of increasing the experience for “regular” attendees and exhibitors. The end result was rave reviews from all attendees (except for one or two people – you know who they are). Most first-time attendees said “sign me up for next year.”  Exactly what association pros want to hear.

We are now using the same approach for another group that has been experiencing lackluster performance with their affinity programs. We are in the process of identifying:

    • The “MUST haves” (What products do the members absolutely need for their businesses to succeed?)
    • The “LIKE to haves” (Are there “cutting edge” or new products they don’t yet know they need?)
    • The dumpster items (What programs have run their course and no longer deliver value?)

We’ll then go through steps two to five above; we expect results similar to those we experienced with the convention.

There has been much discussion throughout the past few years regarding the relevance of associations and the future of associations in today’s work and professional climate. Hoarders will not survive.

Don’t wait for the camera crew and intervention team.  Don’t be an association hoarder!


10 Networking Apps For Event Attendees

Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo

Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo

This month’s guest post is by Daniel Mendelson of Bizzabo. It was originally posted on July 16.

Editor’s Note: By now, you all know I’m a social media/technology addict. So, I was so excited to learn about these apps that I had to share with you! These could help your attendees have a more meaningful networking experience.

According to Mobile Statistics, people spend on average 23 full days a year on their phone. Imagine if only a fraction of that time was spent on networking apps. In this post you will find a list of some great networking apps perfect for event attendees, which will take their networking success to the next level!

  1. Charlie: Have a meeting? Don’t stress! This networking app sends you information on attendees you might meet before the event. You won’t have to remember details about other event attendees because Charlie does all the research and preparation for you.
  2. Bizzabo: Bizzabo’s networking success platform is truly one of a kind. In addition to a total integration with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, this networking platform allows you to engage in one-on-one messaging with other event attendees in order to help you make the most out of your event networking experience.
  3. Namerick: As featured in BusinessInsider and the Huffington Post, Namerick is a must-have networking app. If you are one of those people who can never seem to remember names, Namerick is for you. Using repetition and mnemonics, Namerick will help you keep track of the names of other attendees you meet at an event.
  4. CamCard: Now you can easily manage and organize the business cards you receive at an event. CamCard extracts relevant contact information from business cards and imports them into your smartphone. The sheer number of business card apps attests to the importance of adding one to your networking app portfolio. Take a look at SamCard, WorldCardMobile and ScanBizCards for some other options.
  5. CityHour: Do you have some downtime at the conference you’re attending? Are you interested in networking right away? CityHour is one of our networking apps mentions because it connects you with those willing to meet within the next two hours, who are within a 50-mile radius of your location and who share a common industry and meeting goal.
  6. inDecision: Can’t decide whether to approach the big-name conference speaker? Every event attendee has to make decisions that can make or break his or her networking success. Through pros and cons lists and organizing your decision options, inDecision can help you make the right networking choice.
  7. Contxts: If you are looking to share and receive contact information in the quickest way possible, this app is for you. Contxts is a tool that helps you connect with other business professionals by streamlining and organizing the exchange of contact information through SMS messaging.
  8. This networking app gives you the opportunity to tell your professional story and personalize the way you are presented. has detailed statistics on who interacts with your profile. You can use this networking app to track how popular you are among your network.
  9. Switch: We know that many event attendees go to events hoping to find new job opportunities. Switch is a networking app that can help attendees find the perfect job. It connects job seekers with hiring managers – not head hunters or recruiters.
  10. Spotcard: Discover LinkedIn members at the next conference you attend with this efficient networking app. Using your LinkedIn profile and contact information, this app creates a shareable digital card business card that makes your networking connections easier and more meaningful.



Is it time for an event sponsorships makeover?

Tara Ericson

Tara Ericson, group vice president at Naylor Association Solutions

This month’s guest blog post is by Tara Ericson, group vice president for Naylor Association Solutions, where she oversees group publishers and specialized industry market teams. It was originally published on Association Adviser.

Do you have a three-tiered (platinum, gold, silver) event sponsorship offering? Have you offered the same sponsorship opportunities year after year? Is your sponsorship revenue stagnant or declining?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your exhibit and event sponsorship offerings may need a facelift.

Experts say 85 percent of a trade show’s revenue comes from selling exhibit space. The other 15 percent comes from sponsorship and advertising. According to Velvet Chainsaw, however, associations are shifting more effort into capitalizing on trade show sponsorships and advertising in response to vendors’ desires to reach potential customers in more meaningful, creative ways. Furthermore, vendors are relying on associations to come up with those creative ways to reach attendees before making a sponsorship investment.

If you’re already responsible for multiple parts of planning and executing an event, your sponsorships are likely on auto drive, and a total reinvention probably seems daunting. But don’t let the idea of reinventing sponsorships intimidate you. Here are five tips for growing your event sponsorship revenue.

Customization is in demand.

Based on the 2014 Association Benchmarking Report, only 42.8 percent (of association executives surveyed) said they were trying to customize their advertising/sponsorship programs to a company’s specific needs, and only 10.1 percent fully customize each sponsorship opportunity.

We encourage you to take a more sponsor-centric approach when developing your event sponsorship offerings. Building flexibility into your event sponsorship campaign allows the sponsor to tailor its messaging and branding more effectively toward your attendees.

Divide your sponsor prospects into different buckets to segment those prospects who are most likely to participate in a customized event sponsorship package. Use a consultative sales strategy in which you try to match your association’s event objectives and education track with your sponsor’s objectives and branding.

A good example of a customized of sponsorship might look like this: An event sponsor purchases a sponsorship package that includes a full-page ad in the association’s magazine, adjacent to an article related to its industry segment, that runs prior to the trade show. The ad directs readers to the sponsor’s booth. At the event, the sponsorship package includes signage at a specific education session that reaches the sponsor’s targeted attendees, permission to distribute a leave-behind, such as a key for each attendee, at the education sessions that will unlock a prize at the sponsor’s booth, and an online banner in the event’s daily e-newsletter.

Keep it fresh.

Associations that host events always need to look for and offer the next new thing in sponsorships to keep their event fresh for vendors. Combine innovative ideas with unique sponsorship opportunities to create new sponsorship revenue streams.

  • Main Lobby DJ Sponsorship: Music creates great ambiance, especially if it’s happy and upbeat. This approach allows the sponsor to have signage on the DJ table and to insert its own audio commercial every 10 minutes.
  • Cocktail Ice Luge Sponsorship: Sculpted ice structure with the association logo and sponsor logo. This provides great exposure in a fun and entertaining environment.
  • Product Developers Reception: An invitation-only gathering held during the larger show, at which guests hand-picked by the sponsor for their interest in the sponsor’s products can view a prototype and speak with the sponsor about its offerings.


Have two or three high profile, exclusive sponsorship opportunities for vendors willing to invest a large sum to reach your members. Too often associations shy away from asking for the big dollars for fear of upsetting their membership or a lack of confidence that they will sell. But if you don’t offer it, you will never know if you are leaving money on the table.

The key to successfully selling these event sponsorships is to keep them big, loud and exclusive, which can be fun for you and for the vendor.

These loud sponsorship opportunities should come with the honor of having the sponsors’ brand in every single part of your event. Make a huge splash with marquee sponsorships so your vendor is portrayed as the king of the event, and no one is left to wonder who the premier sponsor was.

RT_SPONSORSHIPBut don’t forget the little guys!

While going big with your top sponsors, don’t forget to create some low-budget options for new companies entering the marketplace or for companies of any size that haven’t been doing business with you.

Associations should work with sponsors to find a price point that is mutually agreeable when introducing new event sponsorship offerings or when working with a first-time sponsor. However, if you offer a discounted rate, always note the original price on the invoice and reflect the savings so your sponsor will anticipate having to pay the full price upon renewal.

Give sponsors what they really want

Your greatest asset is your membership, and your sponsors are willing to pay for time with members. Sponsors appreciate the branding opportunities that signage and swag offer, but being able to talk directly with their target market is the most coveted benefit your custom sponsorships can offer. Meeting with vendors at events saves members some legwork and often creates awareness of solutions they didn’t know exist. Incorporate access to your members into your sponsorship packages through appointment-based sessions, promotional emails, print and digital media, VIP cocktail parties and speaking opportunities.

meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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