Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 2014

How Do You Make Your Attendees Feel?

By Michelle Russell

A select group of senior-level corporate planners representing a variety of industries — including software, food franchising, and home retailing — travel to Milan this month for the PCMA Global Corporate Summit. Here’s a taste of the topics that will be on the table.

The second PCMA Global Corporate Summit, being held this month at the Milano Congressi (MiCo) convention center in Milan, builds on the success of the inaugural Global Corporate Summit, held in Glasgow in July 2012, and follows the same invitation-only, hosted-buyer model. Together with a small group of industry partners, corporate planners will participate in hands-on sessions conducted by subject-matter experts, and over the course of three days apply their newfound knowledge to executing business events on the global stage. Open-agenda time also is built into the program for participants to direct their own conversations.

See Also: PCMA Education Conference Preview 2013

Klaus Andreas Span, executive of CoE (Center of Excellence) product management and business development for IBM, found the first summit valuable in providing “a framework to discuss current pressing issues with my industry peers. It also provided an opportunity for me to hear experts speak on globalization, technology, and outsourcing, to mention a few areas that impact my business today.” Span, who is based in Germany, said he “cannot wait to re-engage” with colleagues in Milan to continue the conversation.

Helping to forge that engagement will be Stephen Archer, a U.K.-based business and economic analyst, who, in addition to presenting the summit’s opening session, “Globalization: Understanding the Changes, Risks, and Opportunities,” will serve as facilitator for the entire program. Other speakers include Chris Meyer, CEO and Paolo Zeppa, senior vice president of strategy and planning, respectively, for George P. Johnson, who will jointly present a session on “Data-Driven Experiences”; Nigel Jeremy, former global head of learning, recruitment, and organization development for Marks & Spencer, who will speak on “Leading Global Teams to High Performance”; and Ben Hammersley, London-based Internet technologist and author, who will explore the impact of technology on global events.

Convene spoke to the presenters in advance of the summit. While we can’t deliver the unforgettable meals, rich conversations, stunning historical sites, and awe-inspiring architecture that the group will experience in Milan, we’ve  captured some of their key insights around managing global events — from understanding cultural norms, to building global teams, to designing experiences that make emotional connections. Mangia!


What do you expect summit attendees will gain from your talk and facilitation?

An understanding of the way that the global economy and the shift in power or shift in sophistication of economies is changing — and how that is opening up opportunities for meeting planners to exploit these changes, exploit new locations, exploit new centers of excellence depending on the subject matter. Looking at the [planners we will have at this summit], they represent [industries] such as software, financial services, health care, and each of those actually have an interest that is likely to be connected in certain locations and certain economies because of the way economies are evolving around those types of markets.

That’s at one level. I think the other level is to consider more dynamic opportunities that are coming out of the changes in the global economy. A few years ago, everyone would have said, for example, let’s do a meeting in one of the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, and China] countries because of their emerging economies. And that’s fine, except for the fact that all of the BRICs are kind of stalling right now or they’re not advancing at quite the pace that they were — or they’ve got social discord or social unrest. Whereas there are other economies and other centers of excellence, if you will — it might be Singapore for health care or Indonesia for energy — which actually present great opportunities.

So there are new emerging economies, new emerging cultures, and new emerging influences in the globalization of industry segments, but also a shift in the business culture. It would be a great opportunity for planners to consider new locations according to this global knowledge economy. [I plan on] helping people understand how to identify where those emerging economies or emerging cultures are.

What is your presentation and facilitation style?

Maximum involvement — I stir some thinking up and challenge their paradigms. It can be huge fun ultimately getting them to join the dots and see how to resolve their challenges in the most constructive way to their stakeholders.


Data-driven experience design: What does that mean?

PZ: What we’re going to be looking at are the various different types of technologies that enable us as marketers to use data — on the front end, to plan for effective experiences; during the actual events, to enable us to use that data to help create more meaningful experiences; and on the back end, to be able to make sure that we’re able to act on the results of those events.

So essentially, the session that we would like to structure is one that leans forward and is participatory and blends both the practice of experience design, where you’re really setting your compass around what it is that you’re looking to accomplish with each event, and then looking at technology and the very different types of tools that are out there to [help make] decisions as to what it is that we should incorporate.

CM: I like to say there is a tornado of data that’s thrown off around any kind of event or experience. That data may come from all different places — it may be preexisting data coming from a customer-profile system, it may come from registration, surveys, RFID, all those types of things. What we see in companies that are more advanced in leveraging that data, to Paolo’s point, they’re able to design a more personalized experience for the users. It’s also critical to properly leverage that data to be able to truly measure the business impact for whoever is hosting the event, regardless of what the objectives are.

How do you think most corporate planners approach data?

CM: I think as an industry, we’re still looking at data from a tactical perspective. We’re looking at it in the context — especially from an event-planning perspective — of I need to do registration, I need to do lead retrieval. What we as an industry haven’t done a good job of is actually pulling that and taking a look at how … data can inform better experiences. This isn’t about using data to replace experiences. It’s about using data effectively to deliver better experiences and to measure the experiences in a much more effective way.

Are there new tools that corporate meeting planners need in order to collect this data, to maximize, to analyze any of those things?

CM: Yeah, and I think that one of the things we want to do in our session is to show a blend of more of the bleeding-edge type of examples that are really exciting — some of the things that track audience flows across complex expo halls to show not just maps in terms of where the activity is, but then being able to drill down to see, okay, so at a certain time, there was a lot of interest that happened at the IBM booth or this portion of the IBM booth.

And we look at an experience, whether it’s a public auto show or proprietary conference, [using] a certain term called “digital landscaping.” So when we’re designing the experience,

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