Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Cover Story

Crowdsourcing Unlocks
Best Meeting Ideas You Can Use NOW

“Crowdsourcing” isn’t only for the digital world. During a a lively session at ConferenceDirect’s recent CDX meeting in Toronto, 135 attendees shared their newest meeting ideas. Here’s a sampling of the best ones you can implement (or improve upon) at your next meeting.

Connection breaks. Technology company Hobsons is incorporating these into its user events, changing the name from “break” alone and extending the allotted time to as much as 30 minutes. The concept lets attendees connect back to their office or campus at that time, or network with each other on site. The event app actually uses iBeacon technology and attendee profiles to identify possibly good “connections” nearby during these breaks, noted Liz Lonsbrough, director, global events.

Nested “U.” The Council of the Great City Schools prefers a “U-shaped” setup in its breakouts. But some sessions are large, with as many as 60 in attendance. “So we started utilizing a nested U” — one U inside another U, with a break at the bottom center of the outside U — “which provides for the engagement and participation we want,” said Teresita Trinidad, director of administration, finance and conferences.

Video made easy. Many members of the Opticians Association of Canada can’t make it to the annual convention. To “bring the show” to non-attendees and at the same time give exhibitors a good return on investment, a staff member suggested booth videos to post on the web site. OAC hired two students from a local videography school for two days, for all of $500. “We gave no direction except, ‘do whatever you want to do,’” said executive director Robert Dalton, CAE. “Corporate sponsors loved seeing their sales managers answer fun questions like, ‘If you were a fruit, what kind would you be?’ Some companies even used the videos internally to show their lighter side. It was very worth it, and we will do this again.”

Hand-holding the event app. TMG (The Members Group) was unsure how well its C-suite demographic would engage with its first event app. So it sent out a lot of instructional communications — where the App Store is, how to download the app, what’s in it (agenda, speakers, surveys, connecting with others). People began posting before the event, and engagement reached 90 percent, with all 155 attendees filling out profiles. “It was a great return on investment,” said Amanda Kramer, marketing specialist.

No more bottleneck. Software manufacturer Agilysys, Inc., shares a lot of information on future products and developments at its user group conference, said Daniel Strother, senior communications manager. Getting a non-disclosure form signed at registration made for a big bottleneck and confusion on site. A simple “check box” on the meeting’s registration site solved the problem.

Repurposed content. APICS started recording video content at its annual conference specifically for repurposing. Then, with another group, it created a subscription content channel, through which it live-streamed (and recorded) one of last year’s general sessions. This then became a promotional piece to the virtual community — “you’re missing out” — when rebroadcasted a few months in advance of the upcoming meeting. “This forces us to curate the content at a whole different level than before,” said John Stults, director, conferences and events.

“Birds of a feather.” Achieving the Dream came up with these aptly named small discussion groups. About two dozen hour-long slots give attendees on site an opportunity to propose a topic, sign up and discuss an issue critical to them. “They’re not just thrust in a room to have these conversations. We give them a head start — setting up some topics and making sure there is a facilitator,” said Stephanie Marshall, CMP, CAE, director of meetings and learning events. “The sessions fill up, and people really like them.”

Quantify economic impact. Brewers Association’s annual meeting draws 14,000 people. To quantify its economic impact, the group partnered on a study with a local university professor when it met in Portland, Ore., this year. “It’s worked out very well, and gives a city a good idea of what we have coming into negotiations,” said Nancy Johnson, event director.

Shaking up sessions. More groups are initiating TED-style programming or Ignite sessions (more rapid fire delivery with a limited number of slides forwarding at brief intervals) to improve engagement. “Afterwards, people can talk to those speakers in networking sessions as well as at a ‘breakfast with the experts,’” said Kramer of payments processor TMG (The Members Group). Brewers Association plans to set one room for the “Ignite” format, while the North American Association of Commencement Officers already uses Ignite for vendor sessions. “It works really well because they can’t go off on a tangent,” said Monica Nelson, senior university events manager, Walden University. — Maxine Golding

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 2,500 corporations and associations through our 325 Associates globally. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, the leading publication for senior meeting planners, is circulated to the clients, prospects and sales associates of ConferenceDirect, which books more than 3.87 million room nights. www.meetingmentormag.com

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