Report from Houston during the flood

August 29th, 2017 @

In July, Gabriel Garza took on a new role as president of the MPI Houston Area Chapter. In the August issue of The Meeting Professional, he shared insight into the meeting and event industry offerings of his beloved city—the fourth-largest in the United States. On Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey began an unrelenting attack on southeast Texas, at first with severe winds and then, even more devastatingly, days of soaking rains the likes of which no one can recall experiencing. The total anticipated rain from the storm is expected to match or exceed the rainfall that Houston sees in an entire year—all in a week.

We checked in with Gabriel Garza, complex account director, group sales for The Westin Galleria Houston and The Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria, to see how he’s doing in this chaotic and dangerous situation. He took some time to share his story with us and his global meeting industry family.

gabe garzaThank you so much for reaching out to me. I certainly appreciate the concern from my MPI family.

My wife and I were talking last night and I told her, I am just mentally drained, and that perfectly states my feelings right now.

Thankfully, we are safe. Our street is flooded and we are stuck but no water has entered our home. This is not the case for many family friends we know. We live in the south side of Houston in the city of Manvel, which is in an area where some of the heaviest rain and flooding occurred (not far from Dickinson and Friendswood, Texas). We know many family friends and individuals who have had to evacuate their homes and/or who have been rescued by boat or helicopter. The worse part of all this is feeling helpless… not being able to lend a hand to friends and community members.

I work at The Westin Galleria Houston & Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria, connected to the Houston Galleria Mall. Our hotel did not suffer any damage or flooding and is open for business to welcome any evacuees and/or disaster relief teams. Mind you, our hotel is operating with limited staff with many of our team members who have been there since Thursday of last week. Appreciation does not describe how thankful we are to have them tending to our in-house guests.

We have had a few group cancellations due to the inability to get to Houston but minimal. Our sales team is working on a number of opportunities as we hope to be home to disaster relief teams in the coming weeks as we begin to rebuild this great city.

I have communicated to Holly Dotson at MPI Global as we are hoping to establish a disaster relief fund on behalf of our chapter in partnership with the other Texas chapters. I am fortunate to have received emails from other MPI presidents around the U.S. who are ready to assist in our efforts.

In the words of JJ Watt [defensive end for the Houston Texans football team], “Houston’s a great city. We’re going to come out of this stronger than ever.”

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Live music booking best practices

August 21st, 2017 @

Jason SwartzOctober is going to be a killer month of live music entertainment in Texas. I’m planning on attending seven concerts—all of the bands are original and incredible. (For those interested or in need of some music recommendations, the schedule includes the Canadian jazz quartet BadBadNotGood, L.A.’s soul-funk Chicano Batman, Houston’s Thai-surf rock Khruangbin and the always-evolving Australian seven-piece King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.)

With this in mind, I had the opportunity to chat with music booker Jason Swartz, founder of Alliance Talent, about the challenges planners face when seeking to include live music in an event’s schedule and the state of the festival scene in the U.S.

Have you booked much talent for association or non-profit events? If so, what unique challenges arise?

Through my company, Alliance Talent, I have been actively involved in non-profit events since we began booking concerts in the early 2000s. When it comes to non-profits, I haven’t faced many challenges that are all that different than with any other client. Typically, when an event is run by a non-profit they still have budgets available for booking talent. We go through the process of getting to know the client, the overall goals for the event’s musical direction, press needs, social media and, of course, the budget.

Once that’s dialed in, we obtain the lists needed to make a firm decision on direction. The main challenge that comes with non-profits, like universities and other associations with multiple decision makers, is getting everyone on the same page in terms of musical direction.

Many people choose talent based on their personal interests with the assumption that others will also be engaged by what they like. With 17 years of experience, I know how to get an organization aligned. Sometimes this involves combining an opening act of one genre and a headliner of another or simply guiding them on a list of artists that works for everyone’s expectations.

What advice do you have for planners that appear to be stuck in the habit of hiring 70s or 80s cover bands year after year?

It’s always fun to book 70s, 80s and other theme based cover bands because like DJs they can play a wide variety of music that will appeal to everyone. There is always that concern that choosing a specific act with their own music may lead to them playing 2-3 songs that everyone loves and then having the remainder of the set filled with songs that don’t appeal to the audience.

If an organization really wants a 70s and 80s style show, we guide them on acts that are versed in doing special events for charities, non-profits and corporate organizations. Those kinds of acts will know that they need to play their own music, but they will also add in some jams that everyone can relate to. Often, those include their own versions of covers from that era. Also, the idea of having the actual band that played those original songs adds a much stronger cache to an event both for attendance, press and social media.

Showing organizations how they can benefit from marketing elements makes a big difference from simply booking a cover band. Also, adding a host DJ to the event to warm up the crowd prior and post to a band’s performance is always a great way to satisfy everyone’s needs for a variety of music from a specific decade.

How can planners help their events get out of a rut of offering the same kind of music year after year?

If an event planner is looking to switch things up from past years, they need to make a leap of faith and just jump into it. Again, I’d recommend starting by connecting with a professional talent buying agency that can really guide them through the best options for their budget, theme and overall experience.

I’d also recommend internally to put together a list that aligns with their theme or genre, so that when they do connect with a talent buying agency they will already have taken the steps to get their entire board on the same page. Once a specific list of 10-20 acts has been pre-approved it will be that much easier for the buyers to negotiate on their behalf knowing the event is ready to go.

What does it typically take for an organization to shake things up and get more creative with its auditory entertainment?

They need to look at the benefits of having an actual act with a known national name. As mentioned, the press and the cache will help with the marketing and will help sell tickets for the event that year. In addition, the organization will start to build up a track record of having known national talent, which will make it easier to get bigger names on board year after year. Musicians, agents and managers always feel more comfortable to play an event or a festival once they know other national names have played it in the past or are on board for the current year.

Not all events have significant budgets for entertainment. Can you share some tips to help planners find and pay for recognized bands?

Checking to see who’s already in town or is local is a great way to get some kind of discount. The less a band must travel, the less they will charge. Also, if a non-profit organization is hosting an event for a specific charity or cause, it is often possible to identify musicians that are supportive of similar causes. These acts are often likely to perform at a discount if it is a cause they believe in.

How can planners best locate lesser-known acts that are original but also affordable?

The best way to find known acts at a discount is to go through experienced talent buying agencies. It takes a knowledgeable team that is talking to artists, managers and agents every day to know which artists are more eager for gigs and looking to do things at more reasonable prices. As mentioned, researching who is on tour and close by to where the event is taking place may also lower costs.

What should planners be wary of when booking entertainment?

Event planners need to ensure that the company they are dealing with for booking talent is experienced and well referenced online. Get some documentation from them on their history or ask them for some references.

Also make sure that when you agree to the booking you’re aware of all the additional costs. Booking talent doesn’t just involve a fee for talent, there also may be an additional fee for the agency booking it, as well as additional costs for the talent itself. Those costs usually involve travel, hospitality and backline production equipment.

One benefit of going through experienced talent buying agencies is that reputable ones will be able to compile all of these costs into one all-in fee so planners can focus on what they do best rather than dealing with all the logistical needs of the performers and their teams.

The structure of music festival lineups has changed significantly since the early years of Lollapalooza—now it seems that a set group of acts simply tour between festivals rather than each major festival booking a fully or mostly unique lineup. How is this affecting the draw of festivals?

Even though one would think that having similar acts at various festivals would cause attendance to go down, festival attendance over the decades (since Lollapalooza) have gone up significantly. Acts that typically only tour once every few years can tour more often since festivals pay top dollar.

Acts like Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Bjork and a huge list of others that formerly toured infrequently now tour a lot more. That means more amazing shows by awesome talent across a wider variety of regions. Also, social media has really helped propel festivals. When an artist has an amazing performance at one festival, there is a social media effect that enables people to have the same amazing experience online.

What are some aspects of festival organization and planning that you think could be improved upon?

I’d like to see an increase in creativity when it comes to choosing locations. In the last 10 years, the festival experience has really come of age in America, but how many times are we going to have a festival on a grass field or in a concrete parking lot.

I would love to see festivals branch out to create more events in nature. Whether its eco-concerts in a forest, at beach locations, alongside rivers or in the mountains, featuring music in other natural environments would really enhance the festival experience.

Also, the concept of creating communities within a festival is fun and encourages people to remain on the grounds for the duration of the festival. Creating a community opens all kinds of new experiences related to food, architectural design and communication between fans. In this setting, people won’t just go home from a festival with a phone filled with live show content and a t-shirt. Now they will return having really connected with new people, and will have experienced something unique and fulfilling.

Are there some examples of festival organizers doing this right that you can share?

Lightning in a Bottle in Bradley, Calif., is a really cool festival that continues to make its festival setting more interesting from a community and environmental standpoint. Adding more art structures, lighting and layouts in their campgrounds has created a cool forest-like community.

Also a new festival in Negril, Jamaica, called Tmrw.Tday Cultural Fest was quite interesting as a destination festival that incorporated beach, jungle and even rock cave parties into its weekend itinerary. I thought that was amazing and has a tremendous potential for growth.

These events do not need to be limited to environments, I think festivals could try throwing an event at a water park or amusement park as well. Festivals need to remember in the end that they are throwing a massive party and potentially creating a community for a day. Proper festivals really should be more than just multiple concert performances going on at the same time surrounded by carnival rides and the same old typical food stands.

(CC) ANDI ERDNER
(CC) ANDI ERDNER

The post Live music booking best practices appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Bright ideas in the new PYM magazine!

June 19th, 2017 @

Orange juice is about the best thing ever. Growing up right in the middle of Florida’s 200-mile-long Indian River Citrus District, orange juice was always a bright part of my life. I always envisioned the act of drinking it as like that of consuming a sweet, liquid extract of the sun (we all know what that tastes and feels like, right?). Lately, however, the cost of orange juice has been on the rise—whether due to myriad general economic factors or the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, which can lead to bacterial infection, “greening” and the decimation of citrus crops. In fact, just this winter, orange juice futures—yes, that’s a thing—hit an all-time high.

editor noniOf course, the high price of orange juice isn’t in and of itself a significant problem—nothing like what you’re experiencing in the meeting landscape. You’re seeing costs at nearly every stage of planning and executing your meetings and events creep up and up and up. At the same time, if you’re lucky, your budgets are growing as well. However, the associated trend that is proving a challenge is that your budgets are not increasing at the same pace as costs.

The good news is that solutions for your cost challenges exist within the minds of your ever-creative peers—and they’re not closed off to the idea of sharing these strategies and tactics. That’s especially suitable in that various ways of sharing with other planners to save costs pop up throughout the cover story of the newest issue of Plan Your Meetings—including sharing menus to leverage bulk purchasing of F&B and sharing speakers to minimize travel expenses.

Notably, you can also get an in-depth look at how one peer, Pat Guerrero, CVA, senior manager of volunteer engagement and programs for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, saves staffing expenses by leveraging the power of more than 150 volunteers for her group’s national conference.

“This conference is a light in the darkness that we sometimes see in animal welfare,” Guerrero says. “It’s our volunteers’ job to be that light because together we can illuminate the world!”

The hope is that within these cost-saving tips and other articles from the newest issue of Plan Your Meetings, you’ll find some ideas that can act like a sun-filled glass of Florida orange juice—bright, eye opening and refreshing.

P.S. Don’t miss free education opportunities at PYM LIVE events throughout North America—see future dates and register. And we’ve also created an interactive map of event venue-related gun laws, state-by-state, a data-intensive follow-up to education provided in the previous edition of Plan Your Meetings.

The post Bright ideas in the new PYM magazine! appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Bright ideas in the new PYM magazine!

June 19th, 2017 @

Orange juice is about the best thing ever. Growing up right in the middle of Florida’s 200-mile-long Indian River Citrus District, orange juice was always a bright part of my life. I always envisioned the act of drinking it as like that of consuming a sweet, liquid extract of the sun (we all know what that tastes and feels like, right?). Lately, however, the cost of orange juice has been on the rise—whether due to myriad general economic factors or the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, which can lead to bacterial infection, “greening” and the decimation of citrus crops. In fact, just this winter, orange juice futures—yes, that’s a thing—hit an all-time high.

editor noniOf course, the high price of orange juice isn’t in and of itself a significant problem—nothing like what you’re experiencing in the meeting landscape. You’re seeing costs at nearly every stage of planning and executing your meetings and events creep up and up and up. At the same time, if you’re lucky, your budgets are growing as well. However, the associated trend that is proving a challenge is that your budgets are not increasing at the same pace as costs.

The good news is that solutions for your cost challenges exist within the minds of your ever-creative peers—and they’re not closed off to the idea of sharing these strategies and tactics. That’s especially suitable in that various ways of sharing with other planners to save costs pop up throughout the cover story of the newest issue of Plan Your Meetings—including sharing menus to leverage bulk purchasing of F&B and sharing speakers to minimize travel expenses.

Notably, you can also get an in-depth look at how one peer, Pat Guerrero, CVA, senior manager of volunteer engagement and programs for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, saves staffing expenses by leveraging the power of more than 150 volunteers for her group’s national conference.

“This conference is a light in the darkness that we sometimes see in animal welfare,” Guerrero says. “It’s our volunteers’ job to be that light because together we can illuminate the world!”

The hope is that within these cost-saving tips and other articles from the newest issue of Plan Your Meetings, you’ll find some ideas that can act like a sun-filled glass of Florida orange juice—bright, eye opening and refreshing.

P.S. Don’t miss free education opportunities at PYM LIVE events throughout North America—see future dates and register. And we’ve also created an interactive map of event venue-related gun laws, state-by-state, a data-intensive follow-up to education provided in the previous edition of Plan Your Meetings.

The post Bright ideas in the new PYM magazine! appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Celebrating International Sushi Day (June 18)

June 13th, 2017 @

This Sunday (June 18) is International Sushi Day—and I’m betting you didn’t even realize that was a thing. This special event was launched in 2009—an announcement, unsurprisingly, via Facebook. The sole activity to celebrate International Sushi Day: Eat and appreciate sushi (for bonus points, introduce someone to sushi).

My own introduction to sushi happened 10 years ago at the Loews Lake Las Vegas (now Westin Lake Las Vegas)—so if you’re in Vegas for MPI’s World Education Congress next week, know that sushi options abound even though you’re in the Mojave Desert.

‘Fish in the Desert’

[This tale into my first dip into sushi was originally published in the September 2007 issue of The Meeting Professional.]

I sake-stumble—a gait observers surely recognize as well-rehearsed Tai Chi—up to my room at the Loews Lake Las Vegas, get comfortable and voraciously rip into Nick Tosches’ June Vanity Fair masterpiece, “If You Knew Sushi.”

How serendipitous that I’d land at the table of one of the nation’s finest sushi chefs while newsstands hold a 12,000-word tome on the cuisine by one of America’s finest authors. I hadn’t considered the circumstances, but in hindsight, I really had no choice—I was visiting the desert and I was going to eat sushi, this much was certain. 

“Trust Chef Fuji,” my hosts say. 

“But…but…but…I don’t really like fish,” I squeak.

I taste a variety of sake and select one to accompany the meal.

“Is there anything you absolutely do not want?” an amused waiter asks.

“No eel. Wait, no. I’ll take whatever Chef Fuji wants to make,” I say in overly dramatic tone.

Master Sushi Chef Osamu “Fuji” Fujita’s signature Tuna Cocktail visually pervades the table—an orb erupting with dry ice vapors beneath chunks of sumptuous tuna swimming in a spicy sauce that celebrates the fish’s flavor.

I place the first piece of tuna in my mouth, trying not to taste. I finally breathe, and experience a stunning delight. A sip of sake created a fuller experience—the two tastes mingle and temporarily take over. I shake my head. Whoa.

Moments later, the tuna is gone and the dry ice cloud has diminished. And then? A large plate of indeterminate seafood ingredients appears.

“There’s more?” I thought.

The waiter is a swell guide, and my taste buds find a favorite flavor in the exotic unagi. I take more sake and in a near-out-of-body experience realize that I love the taste of freshwater eel. If you knew sushi…

Sushi knowledge nuggets

Sushi
Image courtesy Benihana

As one of the F&B trends showing no sign of letting up, meeting and event attendees love to be educated about what they’re eating, where it came from (geographically and culturally) and any associated factoids that can make dining a memorable experience—something more than just gobbling down sustenance in between education sessions.

Following are some sushi facts, courtesy of Benihana.

  • The term sushi means “vinegared rice” not “raw fish.” Vinegared rice is the base ingredient to every piece of sushi.
  • Sushi is estimated to have started as early as 500 B.C. but it didn’t transform into the bite-sized sushi everyone knows until the 19th century.
  • Traditionally, sushi chefs use special Japanese carbon steel knives. These knives are only honed on a single side to create the sharpest possible cutting edge for prepping sushi.
  • Sushi is as much of an art form as it is a delicacy. In Japan, sushi chefs must undergo 10 years of professional training before earning the stamp of “Sushi Master.”
  • Sushi is meant to be served in a particular way. In order to achieve the rice’s ideal “stickiness,” chefs aim to keep their rice around 110 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the cold fish. Once served, soy sauce is meant to serve as a complementary condiment rather than a dipping sauce.
  • There’s more to sushi than rolls and makiNigiri (pieces of fish on top of rice), sashimi (sliced fish only) and temaki (hand rolls), are all more common in Japan.

The post Celebrating International Sushi Day (June 18) appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

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

 

The post Essential conferences for event planners in 2017 appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

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.

The post Gun laws & event venues interactive state-by-state map 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.”

RELATED STORY: 6 tools to extend the life of social media content

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

Do you need armed security at your event?

March 30th, 2017 @

“As a first step, planners should anticipate whether any of their attendees may bring firearms notwithstanding a ban,” says Joshua Grimes, Esq., of Philadelphia-based Grimes Law Offices. “If it’s possible that they might do so, the planner should engage event security to offer to check the firearm at the door. An attendee who refuses to leave his firearm at home or check it, when it is prohibited from bringing the weapon to the meeting, should be banned from attending.”

small gunSo you’ve got armed attendees, logic may dictate the need for armed security as well, right? There are certainly occasions when armed event security is necessary—such as when high-profile VIPs, royalty or politicians are in attendance.

The Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting took place while I was at a conference. So the next day, I queried a veteran security professional who was working the event.

“Would you prefer to be armed when doing security at an event like this?” I asked. An unwavering stare fell upon me as he responded, “How do you know I’m not?”

Touché.

The ensuing conversation was revelatory. It can be just as strategic for firearms on security personnel to be visible as concealed.

“It depends on the situation,” the anonymous security staffer shared. “If a shooter enters the venue and sees I’m armed, I become the first target. And I can’t do my job and effectively secure the situation if I’m down.”

Thinking back, this logic was presented to me earlier in the year, albeit not as bluntly. In the wake of recent, high-profile shootings at meeting and event venues, security was heightened for the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, to include bag searches, explosives-detecting K9s and more personnel. CES is the world’s largest annual trade show, with 170,000 visitors, and temporarily home to more CEOs than any spot on the planet.

During the event in January, Ray Suppe, senior director of security for the Las Vegas Convention Center, explained some of the challenges and how this year’s CES was different for them—including the strategy behind armed security. The appearance of security officers is cyclical, Suppe said: One year, they’ll be decked out in uniforms clearly representative of security or law enforcement—with a visible sidearm—then that will shift to more relaxed, plain-clothed attire. However, if a high-profile incident takes place somewhere in the world, organizers become more interested in having security donned in severe, tactical gear. It’s an ever-changing, partially psychological strategy that affects the attendee experience: Do you want attendees to see the law enforcement presence (and if so, how extreme?) or is it better to have a force that’s invisible to guests?

These are questions that you need to ask of your C-suite, board, supplier partners and event security to ensure you move ahead with the strategy that best fits the needs of your brand and audience.

“Armed security on site may help, but would likely be an over-reaction for most meetings. Armed security might also provoke or exacerbate a confrontation,” Grimes warns. “As a general rule, I would not recommend armed security unless the activity at the meeting would otherwise make it appropriate for protection, such as when a high-level VIP will be attending, the group is particularly controversial or it has experienced violence in the past.”

Additional education about guns and meetings

Interactive state-by-state map highlighting the impact of gun laws at event venues

Getting a grip on event firearms policies

Firearms at events…and your liability

Essential firearms terminology

Navigating changing gun laws

The post Do you need armed security at your event? appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News