Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 2012

Convene Presents: The 50 Best Things in Meetings Today

By the Editors of Convene.

me to easily walk through entering in all my RFP information. Second, it allowed me to easily assess each site’s response and details. Third and most importantly, while you have the advanced technology of the iLead system, you also have the amazing customer service of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau staff at your fingertips to help you with any questions you may have. They are proactive in letting you know that your RFP has been received and they will be working with the hotels to accommodate your request. You get the best of both worlds: technology and human personal assistance.”

— Kerrie Smith, event marketing coordinator, American Council on Exercise

Attendees and organizers alike are demanding more and more bandwidth for the content-rich apps that orbit every meeting, and, slowly but steadily, venues are responding with free facility-wide wireless access. That makes planners happy. “Not only do our attendees need to stay in touch with their associates back home, but they need access to our newly launched mobile applications and wayfinding systems - which ultimately lead to a better attendee experience overall,” said Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, director of education, training, and events for Practice Greenhealth. “Today, being without Internet is like being disconnected from the pulse. Making it free for us to provide to our attendees is icing on the cake.”

How seriously does the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) take food and wine? Seriously enough to create a foodie blog dedicated exclusively to MCEC’s kitchen operation. Visit the blog for “our recipes, an insight into the kitchen, and some of the team’s culinary adventures across Victoria” - from an interview with sous chef Billy Palmer, to pastry chef Mike Belcher’s recipe for hot cross buns, to a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchen’s preparations for AIME (AsiaPacific Incentives & Meetings Expo), to a report on MCEC’s stand at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Cellar Door & Farm Gate event, which offered “a perfect opportunity to illustrate our from-farm-to-fork philosophy.” Much like the blog itself. 

Lest you think Chicago has cornered the market on trade-show labor reforms, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) in Philadelphia recently announced that it was eliminating its 8-percent labor-management fee as of July 1 - part of a campaign to transition the 2.3-million square-foot facility to a more customer-focused business model. “Our business is customer service, so when our customers told us that eliminating the 8-percent fee would make us more competitive, we listened,” said Ahmeenah Young, PCCA’s president and CEO. “All of us - management, unions, and contractors alike - recognize that we succeed only when our customers succeed, and we’re united in achieving that goal.”

The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) sits at the heart of a sprawling meetings district that also includes the Hilton Orlando, The Peabody Orlando, and Rosen Centre - 4,375 guest rooms, well more than two million square feet of event space, and a never-ending traffic jam of attendees, taxis, and buses. Until the OCCC embarked on a comprehensive pedestrian-safety initiative that has built covered bridges to the three hotels, with a fourth bridge in the works; enhanced wayfinding signage outside the OCCC; and added covered waiting areas for bus and trolley stops. “We are known as the number-one tourist destination,” said Kathie Canning, the OCCC’s general manager. “Now we want to be known as the safest place in the United States for pedestrians.”

Lots of hotels have green programs, but for Cori Dossett, CEM, CMP, president of Dallas-based Conferences Designed, the appeal of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is that “the hotel cares enough about our footprint to take active steps toward conservation” - from meeting rooms with linen-less tables, to an ample supply of recycling bins, to a staff member who helped her group donate more than a thousand granola bars to a local food bank. And unlike other venues, the hotel delivered on every sustainability item it promised in its RFP. “These are just a few examples of the many steps they are taking toward improvement,” Dossett said.  “It is a total package.” 

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