F&B, great room sets, and much more. Convene’s readers and editors point you to some of the best in 10 categories. A full description of the listings is available here.
Best Destination Videos
St. John’s, the capital and largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province — is a busy metropolis set on a seemingly endless coastline, and Destination St. John’s video alternates between gorgeous natural vistas and bright, bustling city streets.
Fort Lauderdale has never shied away from the endless supply of sunshine that splashes down on its 23 miles of beaches — but in its peppy, polished “Meet Sunny” video, the destination uses that natural resource to make the case for meeting there.
You never see the inside of a ballroom or exhibit hall, or even of a hotel, in Monterey’s video. Instead, the bayside county on California’s Central Coast juxtaposes a driving rock score with images of outdoor fun — beaches, golf, farmers markets, wine tasting, sailing, whale watching, and on and on — and trusts that you’ll be jazzed to hold a meeting in that milieu.
Alberta is nestled amid the jaw-dropping splendor of the Canadian Rockies? Alberta goes in the direction you’d expect, and its video include with mountains and lakes and fields and horses and skiing, but takes an additional, extra-local step by setting all of that terrible beauty against “Roam,” a lovely, soaring number by Calgary singer-songwriter Wil Mimnaugh.
There’s something to be said for a video that makes you smile, and San Diego’s “Happiness Is Calling” pulls that off. From its jaunty music to its endless parade of people in motion — swimming, surfing, dancing, playing, relaxing — the video effortlessly makes the case for San Diego as a place where your attendees will just feel good.
Best Technology Tools
CVENT EVENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
“Simple is better,” reads the tagline on the home page of ANTIBODY Healthcare Communications’ website, a philosophy that also applies to the company’s choice of Cvent as its online registration partner. Not only does Cvent help ANTIBODY manage the approximately 200 events the company organizes each year, it provides a way for ANTIBODY, which is headquartered in Toronto but also has offices in New York and Montreal, to manage all its contacts in one place.
Evernote, according to Alisa J. Caldwell, CMP, senior manager of events for Ambit Energy in Dallas. “It is the best app for meeting professionals, hands down,” she said. “You have all your notes at your fingertips, and they are searchable and highly organized.” Evernote also has a reminder feature to help you stay on top of tasks with important deadlines, Caldwell said, and it makes sharing your notes with your team, vendors, and clients “super easy.”
Murielle DiDomenicantonio, board liaison officer and executive assistant to the CEO of Co-op Atlantic, a consumers’ cooperative in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, began using Wufoo, an online form-builder, to register attendees for an annual event that draws about 300 people. It was so easy to use and worked so well for that purpose that DiDomenicantonio kept finding more ways to use Wufoo — to collect meeting evaluations and board self-evaluations, create reports, collect travel authorizations and employee feedback, and more. “
Staff at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, where Kerri Begley, CMP, is vice president for conferences and special events, find Basecamp’s subscription-based project-management platform to be such a workhorse that they’ve integrated it into almost every aspect of their event-planning process
OnPeak earns superlatives for its Compass dashboard, which allows planners to slice and dice their housing-block data in multiple ways. “OnPeak’s reporting capabilities are outstanding,” said Karen Malone, vice president of meeting services for the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which uses onPeak when it holds its Annual Conference & Exhibition for its more than 23,000 members.
Best High-Tech Venues
The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista has one feature built into its Grand Ballroom that particularly helps it stand out: AutoCAD diagrams of the ballroom’s rigging points, making it a snap to set up projection screens, lighting, and electrical equipment. In addition, planners can build free websites that let attendees see information about events and book rooms.
Besides offering venue-wide free Wi-Fi access, the the Grand Hyatt San Francisco offers professional on-site projection, digital-audio, and video equipment. The hotel also offers budget planning for digital expenses so planners won’t find any nasty surprises on their final bill.
CLEVELAND CONVENTION CENTER AND GLOBAL CENTER FOR HEALTH INNOVATION
“We toured the Cleveland Convention Center and Global Center for Health Innovation as part of a [PCMA] POWER Chapter Educational Session,” said Craig A. Hendrick, CDS, global account director for ConferenceDirect. “The amount of technical capability is amazing.” The facility offers site-wide wireless connectivity, multisite videoconferencing, high-definition display systems, and training labs for health- and science-focused meetings.
PALAIS DE CONGRÈS DE MONTRÉAL
The colorful Palais de congrès de Montréal convention center offers 88 55-inch HD screens throughout the facility, as well as a 90-square-foot video wall, making digital signage, branding, and broadcasting live social-media feeds to attendees a breeze.
The San Jose Convention Center, which is currently building out 169,957 square feet of new, flexible convention space, is notable both for its facility-wide high-speed Wi-Fi and for its in-house support for webcasting satellite and video streaming. The center also has a cyber café.
Best Meeting Apps
ACS’s mobile app, available for multiple devices, allowed users to take notes on sessions within the app, then send them out via email; browse educational sessions by date, division, theme, and presenter; and see detailed lists of exhibitors broken out by category. The conference program, schedule, and maps were accessible without a Wi-Fi connection.
AMERICAN COLLEGE OF EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS (ACEP)
Cori Dossett, CEM, CMP, president of Conferences Designed, nominated the app for ACEP’s Scientific Assembly (SA) 2013, held in Seattle last October. Aside from standard features such as venue maps, the app had a CME tracker and to-do list built in. “I have used several meeting apps,” Dossett said, “and found the SA ’13 to be the best thus far.”
The custom app that HelmsBriscoe created for its 2014 Annual Business Conference was a standout, thanks to features that included the agenda with venue maps and detailed event descriptions, a database of attendee profiles that was searchable by region and team, social-media integration, and the ability to take notes.
CUMBRE SANOFI 2013
The app developed for the Cumbre Sanofi medical conference in Cancun in April 2013 allowed summit participants to manage their agendas, share content via social networks, and view information about other attendees. And after the close of the event, organizers were able to analyze data generated by the app to track attendee engagement.