Essential conferences for event planners in 2017

May 30th, 2017 @

Essential conferences for event planners in 2017

There remains a litany of conferences for meeting and event professionals to receive education and valuable networking throughout the duration of 2017. Following are highlights, including events with hosted buyer programs (*), which can reduce or limit the cost of a planners’ attendance.

This list does not contain every single conference for event planners, but we feel that these are the main ones you should have on your radar. If you feel we are missing an exceptional conference, let us know about it and what makes it so great in the comments below!

 

June


FIEXPO Latin America*

June 5-7, Santiago, Chile
This gathering with exhibitors primarily representing Latin American destinations and services also included dozens of education sessions. Scheduled speakers include Nina Freysen-Pretorium, president of ICCA, and Rajeev Kohli, president of SITE.

CONFEC blue*

June 8-11, Marbella, Spain
In a results-oriented business setting, this event is designed to bring together top international agencies, corporate and incentive organizers to meet with international suppliers for a series of one-on-one meetings.

PCMA Education Conference

June 11-14, New York City, New York
Brought to you by the Professional Convention Management Association, scheduled speakers for this event include bestselling author Luke Williams and Loews Hotels Chairman Jonathan M. Tisch. Watch the 2016 conference wrap-up video for an idea as to what this year’s event will be like.

 

Cvent Connect

June 12-16, Las Vegas, Nevada
Expect approximately 2,000 participants. Last year boasted a 5:1 planner-to-exhibitor ratio. This year: Keynote speaker Jay Leno! Read more about the 2016 edition.

ibtm America*

June 14-16, Hollywood, Florida
Three-day North American event centered on one-on-one meetings between qualified planners and suppliers.

MPI’s World Education Congress*

June 19-22, Las Vegas, Nevada
The landmark annual event from MPI, the world’s largest industry for meeting and event professionals brings together more than 2,000 of your peers for industry-leading education and networking. What’ll it be like? Check out the top 15 things you missed at #WEC16.

Here is their promo video for this year.

 

Latin America Meetings & Incentive Travel Exchange*

June 19-23, La Antigua, Guatemala
An opportunity to engage with a wide variety of Latin American travel industry professionals. Highlights from the 2016 edition.

 

PYM Live

June 27, Charlotte, North Carolina
PYM LIVE Events are the fastest way for meeting and event planners to research meeting venues, network and learn from their peers, play with new event technology and establish important business relationships. Watch video testimonials of past editions.

 

July


ALSD Conference and Tradeshow

July 10-13, Miami Beach, Florida
For 27 years, this event full of networking, education and entertainment has constantly evolved. Expect more than 100 speakers and presenters, including bestselling author Jon Spoelstra. The Sports Sales Boot Camp (a “non-nonsense sports sales training course”) and the Sports Venue Design & Build Forum run concurrently with the ALSD Conference and Tradeshow.

GBTA Convention

July 15-19, Boston, Massachusetts
A gathering of 7,000+ business travel professionals seeking education, networking and news on the latest industry innovations. This year’s convention includes speakers Gen. David Petraeus and Olympian Michael Phelps.

PYM Live

July 27, Denver, Colorado
PYM LIVE Events are the fastest way for meeting and event planners to research meeting venues, network and learn from their peers, play with new event technology and establish important business relationships. Watch video testimonials of past editions.

 

August


IAVM VenueConnect 2017

August 7-10, Nashville, Tennessee
VenueConnect hosts professionals from a spectrum of public assembly venues including arenas, convention centers, amphitheaters, fairgrounds, performing arts centers, stadiums, universities and more, for 80+ education sessions. Read about the conference’s re-branded strategy.

ILEA Live 2017

August 10-12, Calgary, Canada
From the International Live Events Association, this is billed as “an educational and collaborative experience for creative event professionals to strengthen their creative output, sharpen their business strategies and find inspiration.”

ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition

August 12-15, Toronto, Canada
This annual event features networking and education opportunities and more than 400 exhibitions with which to engage. Scheduled speakers include Nilofer Merchant, fellow of the Martin Prosperity Institute, and Nyle Dimarco, a past winner of America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars.

Caribbean Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange*

August 13-16, Montego Bay, Jamaica
An event consisting of scheduled meetings between pre-qualified North American meeting planners and incentive buyers and Caribbean suppliers.

IncentiveWorks

August 22-23, Toronto, Canada
Billed as “the largest meeting and events industry trade show and conference in Canada,” this event is centered on education. Scheduled speakers include Event Manager Blog editor Julius Solaris and trend spotter Seth Mattison. Check out some highlights from the 2016 IncentiveWorks.

 

ibtm China*

August 23-24, Beijing, China
Designed as a gathering where industry decision makers do business. Attendees are Chinese and international planners.

PYM Live

August 30, New York City, New York
PYM LIVE Events are the fastest way for meeting and event planners to research meeting venues, network and learn from their peers, play with new event technology and establish important business relationships. Watch video testimonials of past editions.

 

September


ibtm Latin America*

September 6-7, Mexico City, Mexico
A hosted-buyer program and series of one-on-one meetings, with aspirational education,” the event is said to bring together more than 380 suppliers and 6,400 planners.

SITE Classic

September 13-16, Los Cabos, Mexico
A blend of incentive travel buyers and industry suppliers that come together for three days of business networking, education and activities that showcase the destination.

PYM Live

September 20, Dallas, Texas
PYM LIVE Events are the fastest way for meeting and event planners to research meeting venues, network and learn from their peers, play with new event technology and establish important business relationships. Watch video testimonials of past editions.

IT&CMA Asia

September 26-28, Bangkok, Thailand
A combo event of Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings Asia and Corporate Travel World Asia-Pacific, this is the only double-billed industry event in the Asia-Pacific region. If your work matches any of the above buzzwords, check it out. Watch a sizzle reel from 2016

 

October


SITE Young Leaders Conference

October 8-9, Las Vegas, Nevada
Scheduled to take place immediately prior to IMEX America, this event is designed as an opportunity for Millennials to meet each other and learn to help those pursuing a career in the incentive travel industry.

IMEX America*

October 10-12, Las Vegas, Nevada
With more than 12,000 participants last year representing all facets of the global meeting and event industry, many rightfully argue that IMEX America is the can’t-miss show. Before you go, read our 10 essential IMEX America hosted buyer tips.
Watch the promo video from 2016

 

PYM Live

October 18, Houston, Texas
PYM LIVE Events are the fastest way for meeting and event planners to research meeting venues, network and learn from their peers, play with new event technology and establish important business relationships. Watch video testimonials of past editions.

ITB Asia

October 25-27, Singapore
This B2B show is designed to become the primary event for the Asia-Pacific travel industry, welcoming all sectors, including small and medium-sized businesses. Last year, ITB Asia reported more than 10,000 attendees from 110 countries.

 

November


PYM Live

November 15, Ottawa, Canada
PYM LIVE Events are the fastest way for meeting and event planners to research meeting venues, network and learn from their peers, play with new event technology and establish important business relationships. Watch video testimonials of past editions.

IAEE Expo! Expo!

November 28-30, San Antonio, Texas
This show emphasizes thought leadership and best practices in unique learning environments. It’s “the show for shows.”

ibtm World*

November 28-30, Barcelona, Spain
More than 15,000 industry professionals come together for networking and education in ibtm’s premier annual event. Explore some highlights from last year’s ibtm world

 

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Category : Blog and Industry News

10 ways to effectively streamline your event

May 22nd, 2017 @

When planning and executing an event, it is important to be efficient and keep things running as smoothly as possible. The following 10 tips will save you from many headaches.

streamline efficiency1. Book your venue early!

There are certain times of year when venues are especially busy: post summer holidays, pre-Christmas and during the end of the fiscal year (May and June). If you are looking to hold your event during any of these periods, you must start contacting venues early to secure your date—as far forward as a year in advance, depending on the size of your event.

2. Create a timeline and task list

Before you jump in the deep end, make sure you prepare a timeline and task list for your event that you can refer back to throughout the process. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, but you will thank your lucky stars when you have that to rely on as the big day approaches.

3. Do away with paper forms

If you want to increase event efficiencies, start with your registration process. Collecting paper forms, transferring data to spreadsheets and following up for payment can be timely and complicated. It doesn’t have to be this way. Online event registration systems can save you and your members a lot of hassle. Contact details, payment information and dietary requests can be confirmed with the click of a button and members can often log back in to update their registration. All event registration systems are different, so take the time to scope out options that meet your specific needs.

4. Start promoting early

Most professionals’ schedules fill up quickly. In order to ensure you have the greatest turn out to your events possible, make sure you provide members with plenty of advance notice. Even a “save the date” stating there will be more details to follow solidifies the date in their mind and creates anticipation. Collecting registrations early on will also help you get an idea of how big your event will be so that you can adjust venues as need be.

5. Set registration and cancellation deadlines

The days leading up to an event can be very busy, so setting deadlines for registrations and cancellations is necessary. In order to prepare materials such as handouts and giveaways, you need to know how many guests to expect. You also need to provide venues your guarantee with at least 48-72 hours’ notice, so it is wise to set these deadlines at least 72 hours prior to the event. You can typically increase numbers by a few, but reducing is an issue—if guests are allowed to cancel within this time frame, you will be out for their meal costs, which is never a good thing.

6. Keep attendees informed

Advise your guests of any important information prior to the event. If you are holding your event at a private club or golf course, a dress code warning is imperative. You will also want to advise guests of registration times, to bring cash for draws, and their team mates or starting holes if it is a golf tournament. One email can save you from phone calls and reduce questions at the door.

7. Confirm final details with the venue

Just like you, venues are busy planning many events so it is easy to forget minor details if they were not recorded in the event contract. Touch base in the days leading up to your events to re-confirm any details or additional requests, such as table set-up requirements. All venues create an event sheet which staff at the venue follow, make sure you request to look over this and do it with a fine toothpick to spot any issues/notes that may have been missed. A walkthrough of the event space may also be helpful to visualize the set-up.

8. Always arrive early

You never know what surprises can come up on the day of an event. The room may be set up incorrectly; maybe you forgot important items at the office. You will also want to perform a thorough AV test to ensure all equipment is in proper working order. Encourage your speakers to arrive early as well, so they can get comfortable with the set-up.

9. Greet guests in an organized fashion

The registration desk is your attendees’ first impression of the event. Ensure you have attentive staff and/or volunteers ready to handle the crowd. Name badges that have been laid out alphabetically contribute to a streamlined process. You should also have print outs of attendance lists and methods of collecting payment in case people show up un-registered at the door. Find out where the bathrooms and coat racks are as soon as you arrive, and be prepared for any and all questions!

10. Prepare an agenda with timelines

In order to ensure the event stays on track, a day-of agenda for volunteers and emcees is necessary. This should include any important announcements, speaker names and bios and sponsor recognition. Everyone has busy lives and you don’t want guests leaving early if the event goes over its scheduled end time. This may also cause problems with the venue if they have another group starting promptly afterwards. A jovial emcee who can pleasantly move speakers along will be a great asset to your events.

This may seem like a lot to keep in mind but a lot of it is common sense and will come with experience. As long as you build these items into your event planning task list, you will have nothing to worry about!

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Category : Blog and Industry News

5 fabulous ways to use drones in the event industry

May 15th, 2017 @

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been around for a lot longer than most people realize. The first drones were used by the Austrian military in their attack on Venice in 1849. Quadcopters have been around since 1920. Mini-drones and quadcopters have been used for photography for almost a decade.

As drones have come down in size and price, they have become accessible to event organizers. There are many different types of drones but some of the most popular include DJI Phantom 4 and the Parrot.AR Drone 2.0.

1. Sporting events

They are often used at sporting events as they make it possible to follow fast action across a large field. Drones can get much closer to the action than any photographer.

2. Resort and site tours

Drones make it possible to provide panoramic views of resort properties and zoom in for close ups of some features. Here Sandals provides a drone tour of its Whitehouse property in Jamaica with stunning results.

3. Destination tours

It’s helpful for event and meeting planners to have a way of quickly viewing the key attractions that a destination has to offer so that they can build those that will appeal to participants into their itinerary. Tourist boards and convention bureaus are making use of drones to showcase destinations from unique vantage points.

Here drones provide an overview of Dubai’s top attractions.

4. Meeting highlights

Drones can be combined with footage from traditional video cameras and GoPros to capture highlights from corporate meetings. Lions Club International blended footage of their 2016 convention from various sources together seamlessly to produce a very engaging video.

5. Entertainment

Always ground-breaking, the CCTV Spring Festival Gala for the Chinese New Year is enjoyed by millions of viewers around the world. For 2016, the show featured 540 dancing robots. Zerotech Dobby actually created a dance routine involving drones for the 2017 show.

 

The most important thing to remember is that using drones is not about the technology. The focus should be on the results and type of footage you want to create. That will drive the decision about whether or not drones are appropriate for your event.

Drones can’t be used everywhere, however. To begin learning about the logistics and laws of using drones at meetings and events, check out The Meeting Professional’s “Game of Drones.”

And if you’re REALLY interested in the future of drones, you can always attend one of the many UAV-specific conferences going on around the world (such as the International Drone Conference and Exposition, this September in Las Vegas).

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: May 10, 2017

May 10th, 2017 @

Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center
Twitter: @BeaverRun
Nestled Between Mountain and Main Street, Beaver Run’s full-service resort features an on-site spa, over 40,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and is a mere three blocks from Historic Downtown Breckenridge.


Plan Your Meetings and the The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center are pleased to offer you a very special contest:

Simply complete the survey for a chance to receive one night deluxe accommodations and dinner for 2 at Robard’s Steakhouse.

Click here to fill out the survey for your chance to win!

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Long-term career options for meeting planners

May 3rd, 2017 @

Where will you be in your career within the next five years? 10 years? 15 years?

In short, what kind of career track are you on?

career pathThese are hefty questions when you consider that most of us who fall into this industry fall in love with it, too.

It’s easy to get entangled with the logistics of the daily grind and the meeting industry can be a fickle mistress when it comes to career moves. There aren’t a lot of such options, but the good news is that there are more than you think.

Consider these paths.

Stay put at the same career level.

Some people realize that they are really good at planning meetings/events and sincerely desire to not do anything different. And there’s nothing wrong with that. As we all have likely dealt with a boss-zilla in our lifetimes, some people are good at what they do but aren’t cut out of management cloth. No problem. If you are happy in the job function, then there are some options in this arena so you feel revitalized/challenged in your work. The first step is to add to your body of knowledge. Growing your knowledge base can help you move into step two, which is expanding your job duties. (The MPI Academy and PYM LIVE offer a bevy of opportunities to help you grow professionally.)

Move up and out.

Still feel like you aren’t able to stretch your wings at your current employer? Then you might need to consider changing employers.

Moving up.

For the folks who are career-minded and see a management trajectory in their future, then building the stepping stones of being a capable manager are critical. Do you know how to manage people, resources, budgets and strategies? This can open doors to being a VP of meetings or a similar leadership position. Remember, you need to tell others of your career aspirations and not just assume that they know.

If not this, then what?

You love the industry, and the industry loves you back. But sometimes, you simply get burned out and need something else. So how do you translate this amazing career of meeting/event management wins into something else altogether different? I have a simple answer for you: Operations. Yes. You saw that right. Operations. The reason is that everything you do as a planner is all about keeping things running smoothly. And guess what? That’s what operations managers too. They oversee financial, marketing, sales, programs, deadlines and personnel, to name a few areas. So this can be an easy leap to make.

None of the above.

Going for the full-scale, “I can’t take this anymore” career revamp? Career coaches are a way to go. Believe it or not, meeting planners end up with a Swiss Army knife of skill sets that can go in many directions. A career coach can help you find a new direction that provides that injection of fresh energy, optimism and renewed purpose that many burned-out professionals crave.

 

So keep an eye on the prize—be clear on what your next career goals are, and cultivate the skills that can lead to either renewed passion for your current work or help you find rewarding new opportunities.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Gun laws & event venues interactive state-by-state map

April 27th, 2017 @

Plan Your Meetings is pleased to offer a free, interactive U.S. map showing state-by-state gun laws as they relate to meeting and event venues.

gun map graphic

The Gun Laws & Event Venues map was created as a simple starting point for planners looking into the matter of firearms possession at their meetings and events—a follow-up to a series of gun-related articles released over the past six months, which was designed to educate meeting and event practitioners on myriad factors associated with firearms, such as safety, security and the attendee experience.

Select a state and you’ll immediately see the general status of handgun and long gun possession in the state, including whether or not permits are required. You’ll also get information related to exemptions in the law that apply specifically to potential meeting and event venues.

TX gun map detail

For example, in Texas, concealed and open carry of handguns is legal with a permit, except in venues that serve alcohol, amusement parks, racetracks, at sporting events and at businesses that post appropriate signage banning weapons. Each entry also includes a link to more thorough details (warning, these details are heavy in legal-speak).

Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International is neither pro-gun nor anti-gun; we are pro-safety and pro-attendee experience. You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles about the intersection of firearms and meetings to understand your general rights when renting a space and how those rights may vary between states and venue types, among other potential implications.

Getting a grip on event firearms policies

You’re responsible for the safety of meeting and event attendees—so what are your options?

Firearms at events…and your liability

Legally, the question of a planner’s liability really comes down to identifying the organizer’s “duty of care” regarding firearms at the event

Navigating changing gun laws

Guns at meetings are not a problem for everyone—here are some guidelines for planners

Do you need armed security at your event?

There are certainly occasions when armed event security is necessary—and when such security is a hindrance

Essential firearms terminology for planners

Some necessary basics for planners to understand as they begin learning about firearms and event venues

 

As we move onto other important topics, please do not hesitate to let us know if there are additional angles to the firearms-at-meetings/events story that you’d like us to look into.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Beware: Third-party procurement can cost you your commission

April 25th, 2017 @

It happened to me—has this happened to you, yet?

achtung warningCaution: Always have the person who contacts you on behalf of a company check to see if the organization uses a third-party procurement company or agency.

I have posted before about third-party procurement models coming to North America. They have been popular in Europe for some time. I have just had the most horrendous experience so I am sharing it so you can avoid similar drama.

On our company website, I indicate that, if prospective clients require venue searches, detailed budgets or detailed event plans before making a decision, there is a deductible charge. I haven’t always stuck to this but from now on, I will. Here’s why.

In early February, a top luxury brand contacted me to submit a proposal to facilitate and plan their executive retreat. In this case, I didn’t charge for the venue search, budget or detailed event plan as it was a high-end brand and I am always keen to add blue chip clients to our roster.

Suffice it to say, I spent six weeks working on this, had to call a slew of venues and other suppliers to pull the budget together. Also, the client wanted special payment arrangements so it was back and forth with the hotel for weeks to work out the details. It took well over a week to finalize the contract. I sent it the client for review and signature.

A few days later, I received an email from a company executive indicating that she had to run it past their internal event planning group for approval. The executive and our contacts didn’t realize that this was necessary.

More days went by. Then, I get a call from the hotel. A third-party procurement agency had contacted them and indicated that they have an exclusive contract to do all venue searches for this organization. Their role is to negotiate, review and sign all hotel contracts. All contracts have to be on their template with their own clauses.

So, after I worked our tail off for more than six weeks, I will not be getting even one dime of the commission. The third-party procurement firm will get the commission for simply reviewing the contract and signing it. How is that fair or ethical?

The whole reason the company approached our firm was they want something “out of the box” and creative. The procurement company, which also offers an event planning service, had planned their retreat in previous years and it was boring and lacked impact.

Our contacts from three levels of the organization didn’t realize that there was an exclusive contract in place.

5 best practices to avoid working without compensation

1) Always charge the client up front for venue searches, the preparation of budgets and detailed event plans.

2) Make it a retainer that you can deduct from the final invoice if you secure the business and receive your commission.

3) Ask upfront is a third-party agency is involved.

Sometimes, the person who contacts to request a quote has no idea that their company has an exclusive contract with a third-party agency. Ask them to double check if any such arrangement exists before you do any work on behalf of the prospective client.

4) Be sure to adjust your fees so that your company receives adequate compensation for the extra red tape involved in dealing with a third party.

Remember, some companies pay the third-party procurement firm and they pay you. This could result in unfavorable payment terms and significant delays in payment.

5) If you do decide to proceed, be prepared for the extra work and red tape that will be involved. Build this into your plan.

No wonder event planning regularly makes the list for top 10 most-stressful occupations. Just when event planners think they have it all figured out, someone throws them another curve ball.

Sometimes, it is better to pass on business altogether. Life is just too short. That’s easy for me to say. Fortunately, our company’s core services are the design and facilitation of executive retreats and team building. If push comes to shove, we can focus on that and leave the event planning to another firm or internal employees. It won’t be a smooth execution, but at least it will save some headaches and gray hairs.

If event or meeting planning is your core business, definitely take the time to clarify exactly who you will be working with and the terms of engagement before investing a lot of time and energy into a project that may go nowhere.

Epilogue

My story has a happy-but-then-sad ending. The client decided that my company added enough creativity and value to justify paying us extra for the event planning. This would have compensated for the loss of revenue from hotel commissions. Unfortunately, after eight weeks of work, the entire project was cancelled as the organization had to engage in mandatory company-wide training. I did not collect a dime for the many days I invested in venue sourcing, budget development, contacting suppliers and customizing an agenda.

Adherence to tips No. 1 and No. 2 for all clients would have avoided this. Lesson Learned.

Have you ever lost your commission to a third-party agency? How did you handle it?

If you have not experienced this yet, beware. It could happen to you. Third-party procurement, which has been popular in Europe for a long time, has now come to North America and it will not be going away any time soon.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Vegan inclusion tips for meetings and events

April 11th, 2017 @

tempeh dish

If you’re planning a modern meeting or event, there’s an increasing likelihood that some of your attendees are going to be vegan. While this may seem like a nuisance at first, it is not that difficult to accommodate them. By doing so, you’re sure to earn their appreciation and good graces. Follow these simple tips and guidelines and we promise the process will be easy.

Veganism 101

Most importantly, keep in mind that vegans don’t consume any animal products. This includes meat, fish, cheese, dairy and eggs. Knowing what to avoid is always going to be the most clear and obvious step.

Check ingredient lists

Unless you’re cooking food from scratch or buying a packaged meal, it is important to be mindful of where non-vegan ingredients may be hidden. This is actually easier to find than you’d expect. Ingredient lists are required to explicitly state any common allergens, which include eggs and dairy, fish and shellfish—all items avoided by vegan attendees.

Check the bottom of ingredients lists for disclaimer: “CONTAINS: ____” to quickly check if an item is vegan friendly.

Bring a non-dairy alternative if serving coffee or tea

This will also be appreciated by any lactose-intolerant guests you may have. By bringing a plant-based milk along with the standard milk and cream you’ll be sure that everyone has options. (And almond milk is delicious!)

Ethnic dishes make great and simple vegan options

When planning meal options that everyone will love, ethnic food is often a great choice. Many Asian, Indian and Mexican dishes are abundant with vegetarian options that may already be vegan or can easily be made vegan by holding the dairy or eggs.

Offer meat alternatives

Tofu, tempeh (a fermented soy product) and seitan (made from wheat gluten) are the most common and cost effective meat replacements within vegan cuisine. They take on whatever flavor they are cooked with and make great substitutes for dishes that may traditionally contain meat.

Clearly label vegan items

Although a menu option may look completely plant-based, it’s not always explicitly stated. By labeling which options are vegan or vegetarian, everyone feels their choices are accommodated and understood. Subtle symbols like (V) with a key or legend on the bottom of the menu are a great and subtle way to accomplish this.

Intentionally seek foods that are “accidentally” vegan

Many bagels, breads, sauces and even Oreos, are traditionally free of eggs and dairy. By choosing to serve items that are “accidentally” vegan, everyone feels included and can connect over the same foods. Simply check an ingredient list or ask the caterer/chef if something contains any “hidden” eggs or dairy.

Don’t make a big deal about it

No one likes being put on the spot. Having a separate vegan/vegetarian menu available on request, or giving someone a placeholder that says VEGAN on it may not be the best approach for full inclusion. Most vegans just want to be able to enjoy their food and bond with everyone else. By offering a seamless experience where they can easily and independently identify what they can eat, it will create a feeling of hospitality.

Even more curious about vegan lifestyles? Check out ThriveCuisine.com’s thorough step-by-step guide!

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Navigating changing gun laws

April 10th, 2017 @

“Welcome to the convention! Please check your firearms.” That may not be the greeting many meeting attendees expect to hear. But recent changes in gun laws across the U.S. mean we may be hearing it more and more.

Several states recently enacted laws allowing firearms to be brought into public accommodations such as convention centers, restaurants, bars and houses of worship. These states joined others in confirming that guns may be carried by licensed persons nearly everywhere they choose to go. Some jurisdictions allow “open carry,” meaning the pistol or rifle can be readily seen by others. In other places concealed weapons may be permitted.

Meeting professionals should recognize that guns at meetings are not a problem for everyone. Many people in the U.S. prefer to carry licensed firearms with them in their daily routines. Some do it for safety; others are making a statement about their constitutional rights. They are entitled to carry their guns by law.

For these people, laws that affirm their right to bring weapons to public places may encourage their attendance at events. And some events that seek to attract attendees who endorse “gun rights” will now have more freedom to cater to that market segment when they meet in states that have adopted pro-gun laws.

The increasing presence of firearms is also an area of concern for many meeting planners. They may view guns as inherently threatening to some. The image of meeting attendees crossing a trade show floor with rifles strapped to their backs is a scene reminiscent of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Planners may also worry that an enraged or drunk attendee with a gun could cause tremendous harm to others—certainly more than someone with a knife or no weapon at all.

There is not always a one-size-fits-all response to bringing guns to events. Some groups may generally permit firearms as a matter of policy. But if their event will include a controversial celebrity or a political figure in attendance, they may have to rethink their approach.

The 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland is a good example. Ohio law allows firearms to be brought into the convention venue, and the Republican Party supports gun rights. On the other hand, with Donald Trump and political leaders in attendance, there was a need for special security measures to ensure safety. Convention leaders and government officials decided to allow firearms outside the venue, but to prohibit them inside the arena. This compromise helped ensure a safe experience for all.

For planners and meeting hosts, some pre-event thought and proper planning can create an event at which all attendees can be comfortable. This is true even in “pro-carry” states. Permissive gun legislation may create some challenges for those seeking to limit the presence of firearms, but it is certainly still possible to conduct meetings much the same as before recent pro-gun laws were enacted.

Different laws in every state make it impossible to create hard and fast rules to apply to every meeting across the U.S. But here are some things to consider when planning a meeting or event in any location.

  • Review the state’s laws on carrying weapons with counsel: This is good advice even if you don’t believe that attendees are allowed to carry guns in the jurisdiction where the meeting will be held, or if you wish to permit guns and are meeting in a pro-gun state. There may be limits on your ability to endorse or prohibit firearms, and you need to be aware of any conditions.
  • Understand that meeting sponsors wishing to ban firearms from their meetings may still be able to do so, even in states that have enacted pro-gun legislation. Particularly if the meeting location is a privately owned hotel or conference facility, an event sponsor may have the right to keep guns out, and even deny entrance to attendees refusing to comply.
  • Create a written policy on firearms for your organization, and then enforce it. A clear policy statement publicized to your meeting attendees in advance with registration materials will prevent confusion about what is and isn’t permitted. This policy should also be posted at the meeting venue. If firearms will be prohibited, this should be made clear to attendees in advance.
  • If your organization chooses to ban firearms, develop a security strategy to keep firearms out. This may include requesting that attendees pass through metal detectors to ensure that no weapons make it into the event. Some states also permit venues to arrange a “gun check” to allow attendees to check their weapons while they attend the event, and then reclaim them afterwards.
  • When serving alcoholic beverages at an event, give particular consideration to whether a meeting otherwise permitting firearms should ban weapons at that particular function. Guns and drinking have been a concern even for states enacting broad pro-gun laws. The heightened risk of impaired judgment resulting in violence when alcohol is involved greatly increases the threat of potential liability for the meeting sponsor, the venue and the person carrying a weapon.
  • Check with your insurance carrier about the impact on your rates should you allow firearms, as well as your overall ability to purchase adequate coverage. Rates may be higher if firearms are allowed, due to the increased risk of injury. This is particularly true for events in bars and functions where alcoholic beverages will be available. As the risk of impaired judgment increases, so do insurance costs.
  • Laws outside of the U.S. are usually far more restrictive on carrying firearms. When planning an international meeting consider whether local laws allow individuals to own and keep firearms at all, and if so whether they can bring guns to public gatherings. Also, there are often restrictions on transporting weapons across borders. It usually makes sense to urge attendees to leave their firearms at home.

This article was published concurrently in the November 2016 editions of Plan Your Meetings and The Meeting Professional.

Additional education about guns and meetings

Getting a grip on event firearms policies

Firearms at events…and your liability

Do you need armed security at your events?

Essential firearms terminology

The post Navigating changing gun laws appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Mastodon: Social media for people

April 5th, 2017 @

mastodon join

All the cool kids jump ship from a social media platform once it gets too mainstream or too corporatized. Friendster > MySpace > Facebook > Twitter > Tumblr > Snapchat, and on and on… As a result, investing too much time and resources into developing your presence on such sites can turn into a gut punch when your audience departs for the next big thing and you have to start all over.

ENTER MASTODON!

This new social platform, which is already being cited as a potential “Twitter killer,” may appear at first glance to be nothing new, nothing special. (Just over a year ago, when I first wrote about Mastodon, it was being touted as a “Twitter killer,” then people—myself included—forgot about it and went back to Twitter. It’s just been appearing in headlines, though, so here’s an update.) Beyond being a platform that doesn’t permit hate speech, the beauty of Mastodon is on the back end. It gets a little technical, but hear me out.

The structure of Mastodon is such that there is no centralized power that dictates how you share and view content. In the case of Twitter, everything goes through Twitter. With Mastodon, users register through any number of “instances,” which are each run independently and provide access to local content on that instance’s timeline as well as the entirety of content across all instances (this is the “federated” timeline).

Think of “instances” as entrances to a convention center. You choose one door to go through and can hang out with the people in the nearest meeting room (your chosen “instance”), but if you keep on walking, everyone ends up in the same grand ballroom (the federated timeline, which includes all of the public content shared on Mastodon).

Talking to Yahoo! Tech, Mastodon’s twenty-something creator, Eugen Rochko, explains it using tech analogies:

There are different ways in which something can be decentralized; in this case, Mastodon is the ‘federated’ kind. Think email, not BitTorrent. There are different servers … users have an account on one of them, but can interact and follow each other regardless of where their account is.”

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There are countless differences between this newcomer and Twitter (such as a message limit of 500 characters rather than the fewer characters of the bird site), but what offers the greatest flexibility is that ANYONE can set up a Mastodon instance! You want a group dedicated to meeting and event professionals? Well, in a couple of hours, a coder could create YourEventNameHere.com as an individual instance—and, get this, everyone you give access to that instance could register their user name of choice…even if it’s taken on another instance! Put simply, I could be @Michael…imagine being able to do that on Twitter—impossible unless you worked for the company on Day 1. All of your group’s communications could then be private and just limited to your users or you could leave it open to leak into the greater federated timeline.

Think one step more…planners could set up instances dedicated to specific events.

While this may sound like a lot of tech work, it’s actually much easier than it sounds—I watched last night as a developer created her own instance of Mastodon (dedicated to cats and cat lovers), and she debuted it this morning. Speaking with her via Mastodon, she shared that it took her about five hours to complete. That’s it—five hours!

MastodonBut why would you want to do all of this work or spend money to make a unique instance for your group or event? It’s run by you! The data is yours! There are no ads! And my favorite: The timelines are chronological rather than organized by popularity, so the user experience is legitimately like that of a chat room rather than a semi-stale social media dumping ground. Perhaps the best reason to set up your own instance—or to at least explore this new domain: What do you have to lose? The answer: Not much. Possible benefit: You just may be viewed as being on the bleeding edge of the most recent social media evolution…no too bad, eh?

Please keep in mind that Mastodon is not the platform you should use to market your event—Mastodon is about people connecting with people, it’s not a business thing. The bright side of that is that users can easily strike up fun discussions with total strangers, untouched by ads, promoted posts, commercials, brand marketing, etc. This platform is 100% human (aside from the bots…but those are clearly labelled as such, and most of them are useful and/or amusing).

Some essential details:

  • A “tweet” in Mastodon is called a “toot”
  • Hate speech is not permitted
  • There are no ads!
  • Timelines are chronological rather than organized by non-human algorithms (so it’s a fluid chat)
  • Forget about changing character limits; Mastodon gives you 500 characters (so you can dump the truncated words and cutesy lingo (“b4,” “cu l8tr,” etc.)
  • Registration with the original instance of Mastodon (mastodon.social) closes periodically when there’s a massive influx of users (like last week)…but there are plenty of other instances through which you can register and enjoy all that the platform has to offer
  • Mastodon was named after a band of the same name…because the founder likes them

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Category : Blog and Industry News