Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

PCMA/VES Report

Meeting Professionals Become
‘Architects of the Experience’

One clear message from this year’s annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association and colocated Virtual Edge Summit: Organizations can’t stand still as digital technology tools upend established rules of commerce. By embracing these tools, meeting professionals position themselves to lead their organizations in reinventing the event experience, from process to outcome — and reinvent they must.

Here are just a few new ideas and fresh concepts to add to your playbook:

• The 10-minute rule. The brain wants information delivered to it in specific chunks, and then to go off to digest it, explained Dr. John Medina, molecular biologist and author of “Brain Rules.” That’s because it “processes meaning before detail.” So instead of giving a 50-minute lecture, speakers should think five 10-minute segments.

• The potential of gaming. One billion gamers on the planet spend an average of an hour a day on this pursuit, said game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal. And they’re not who you think they are: one in five is over 50 years old, and 40 percent are women. Gamers are actively engaged in problem-solving, as gaming unleashes positive emotions like creativity, contentment, awe and wonder — just what a meeting hopes to elicit.

• Mobile and metrics. Smartphones and tablets bring consumer technology directly into the event space, and this is proving truly transformative for meetings, from marketing to logistics to content delivery. These devices are “accessible and cheaper” and their use “more easily measurable,” said Eric Olson, general manager, ActiveNetwork. And mobile Internet users will overtake Internet users on the desktop in 2013, if not earlier. So, give attendees the sizzle and speed they want, plus support for the devices they use.

• Technology investment. As organizations find that virtual content drives participation at physical events, their investment in event technology must increase. Yet only 25 percent of event planners have a technology budget, Olson reported. “Groups are not realistic in budgeting for the bells and whistles we perceive our attendees expect,” said Martin Balogh, director of meetings and travel, American Bar Association.

• Architects of the experience. In the move from managing a few days in a room to managing a complete event lifecycle through a year-round community, meeting professionals have become integral to crafting the entire user experience. Their success, however, is increasingly dependent on their abilities to fully utilize event management, social media, and measurement technology tools, as well as the integrated data that these deliver. Those require much more skills training and expertise.

• Multi-purpose and monetize. Here’s what show organizers are learning as they “virtualize.” Create compelling content in advance (saving costs of live streaming) and make those sessions “live” (with speakers available for live discussion) on different days of a virtual event. Mix new content with repurposed content for an even fresher approach. Provide continuing education credits for online content, as appropriate. Archive to resell. Identify online first-timers and strategize how to turn them into ongoing members or customers. Help newbies join online events by providing clear guidelines and answers to frequently asked questions. Sell sponsors integrated programs for virtual and physical presence.

• Curate and cut content. Gathering, organizing, and sharing (continuously) content you deem most relevant and valuable for your constituencies, called “content curation,” is all the rage. With a virtual presence, you never to “go dark.” But remember that people “scan” online. They don’t “read.” Whatever channel you use to deliver content, keep content short and put takeaways into accessible bullets, headlines, lists, and charts/graphs. — Maxine Golding


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