Being the daughter of a police officer, I was raised with the dual mottoes of, “Always be prepared” and “When seconds count, help may be minutes away.” Is it any wonder that I grew up with a Type A personality and selected a career that involves planning and preparation?!
As meeting planners, we attempt to plan every detail of our time on site and then form plans B, C, etc. to account for the unpredictability that inevitably will occur despite our best laid plans. In addition to those things we can anticipate happening at an event, like your general session speaker has run 20 minutes over the allotted time, or 50 people over your meal guarantee just showed up for lunch, we also have the obligation to plan and prepare for the unexpected. In my tenure, I’ve faced the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s, two hotel fires, theft of my purse and laptop from a meeting room, various protests, a tropical storm and a narrowly missed flood at the Opryland Hotel (my client’s event had ended mere days earlier!) Read more
Not sure how long the fad will last, but it is still here now, so if you are considering using QR codes at your next event, here are a few tips. You techy folks will want to skip right on by and head to Rebecca Stewart’s blog on how to incorporate QR codes on attendee badges. For the rest of you event planners, read ahead for my recommendations on implementing what seems to be one of the hottest trends in the conference world. Read more
One of our clients recently polled their attendees to ask them why they attend their annual meeting. 95% named networking as either the #1 or #2 reason for attending. My guess is that your attendees would say the same thing. Considering the importance attendees place on meeting new people and learning from their peers, this seems like a huge opportunity for show organizers to add value.
What are your attendees doing during “networking” breaks? My guess is that they are using the restroom, checking emails on their phone, standing in line for coffee or walking to the next session. Even if you plan breaks that are long enough for people to actually network, are you doing anything to help facilitate conversations and meaningful dialogue during those times?
Here are 10 ideas that we have tried ourselves or have seen implemented at conferences we’ve attended: Read more
Last year, after shelling out $14 bucks to see the re-release of James Cameron’s Titanic in 3D, I pondered what it is about some movies that captivate us and linger in our memories. According to IMDB, Titanic, originally released in 1997, holds the #2 slot for all-time gross U.S. box office tickets sales, second only to James Cameron’s – you guessed it – Avatar. So, what drives people, like me, to pay good money to see a film that I’ve already seen (3 times actually when it was first released) and own a copy of? Ok, maybe I don’t want you to answer that question, especially if you’re not a Titanic fan! Similarly, what drives people that attended your event in the past to return the next year? The answer is that you have to provide them with a reason. I’ve come to realize that there are some key strategies used here that not only work for movies, but skillfully applied, can be used for promoting and enhancing your next meeting, event or conference. Read more
As promised in my last blog, it is now time to describe, not only the details of our actual experience implementing QR codes on attendee name badges, but also why we chose the solution we did.
After researching available options and comparing prices, we selected a company (Blacknet Group) that would generate QR codes and provide access to web based lead retrieval software at a very reasonable rate. Attendees and exhibitors could scan each other’s badges with their own smart phones by downloading a free scanning app and enjoy the fact that these contacts were being stored on the cloud somewhere instead of taking up room in their wallet. At the conclusion of the event, each person that took advantage of this ‘free’ scanning was sent a list containing all the contacts they scanned, along with a list of people who also scanned them.
Wow, sounds too easy, right? I would expect any experienced event planner to be suspicious and ask questions like… Read more
A Collaborative Post by John Moss and Christine Hawks
It seems that everyone is seeking their perfect match and the exhibit hall is no exception. Gone are the days when show organizers could simply offer an exhibit hall and attendees would utilize their time on the show floor as their primary means of learning about the latest product and service offerings. Now, open exhibit hall time often competes with sessions, meals and prize drawings not to mention the draw of attractions from destination cities. With limited time on site and the demands on their attention that an action-packed conference can make, attendees may be spending less time engaging with exhibitors at an event. Short of a “desperately seeking a customer with a problem to solve for a long-term, loyal relationship” plea, what’s an exhibitor to do to find the right person with whom to have a more meaningful conversation at an exhibition? Read more
Allow me to introduce you to MRA Services’ newest, inspiring conference management professional, Kaylee Van Nort. A recent Western Washington University graduate, Kaylee joined our team in early September and has impressed her colleagues with her outgoing personality and keen attention to detail. From the moment Kaylee stepped into MRA Services’ office she has brought light, professionalism and a considerable amount of sugar into our office (she is best known for her candy jar that makes standing in her doorway a fabulous experience). As our latest Conference Experience Specialist, Kaylee joins Vanessa Heavens as the team of two behind MRA Services’ main phone number and customer service email. In addition, Kaylee has been assigned to half of MRA Services’ events as the lead Specialist, responsible for name badge production, exhibitor sales and much more! We are truly grateful for our new addition and are excited for our clients and partners to get to know Kaylee. Read on to learn more about Kaylee’s first five months at MRA and what insights she has gleamed regarding event management!
In their annual industry forecast, IEG predicts that North American Companies will increase their spending on sponsorship by 5.5% in 2013. That’s up from last year’s 4.4% actual increase over 2011, indicating solid growth amidst an otherwise lagging economy.
While Associations and Membership Organizations, as a category, are only projected to receive 3% of all sponsor dollars spent, that’s still a healthy $575 million dollars, according to the same report.
How can your association or event compete for a larger slice of the pie? Here are four strategies for developing programs that more engaging, more meaningful and more successful at helping sponsors build their business, which is, after all, the purpose of sponsorship. Read more
It’s been almost a year since my last blog post about QR codes and how they can be used use as an affordable alternative to traditional lead retrieval systems. Since then, we have actually implemented this solution at one of our larger events, and it turned out to be quite a success! My intention was to write a follow-up blog to describe our actual experiences (as opposed to my usual ruminating about potentials and what ifs) but, during some recent discussions, I realized that there is still quite a bit of confusion about what a QR Code actually is and how its data can contain or point to attendee demographic information, thus providing an inexpensive or, in some cases, a free alternative to more costly lead retrieval systems.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but I will add a few words here anyways.
How does a small organization make a meaningful impact in its local community? For MRA Services’, the answer was found by rallying together to support an employee-selected cause. Inspired by the spirit of #GivingTuesday to “get out the give”, MRA Services voted to help make it a Merry Christmas for members of the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County in need of a little comfort and joy this season. As part of the Club’s “Adopt a Sock” program, each of us opted to fill a stocking with toys and goodies for a boy or girl in our community. Read more