Convening Leaders is just around the corner. As meeting professionals make plans to kick off 2014 in Boston together, I caught up with Ann Johnson, associate director of programs at PCMA, to get a better sense of what attendees can expect in Boston at the beginning of next year. In the ever-evolving landscape of meetings and events, Johnson says this year’s program will dig into the future of engaging attendees, exhibitors and sponsors with five key focus areas: working together, business and strategy, meeting and experience design, technology and globalization.
“Attendees will take away more than ever before,” Johnson says. “Our concurrent sessions deliver valuable insights for meeting planners and suppliers, but this year, the program also includes content that will appeal to education directors and event marketers. No matter where you fit into the puzzle of putting together meetings, these are three days that can help prepare you for what’s next in attendee engagement and experience design.”
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Understanding what’s next also includes recognizing where’s next on the map of the meetings industry, and Johnson is particularly excited about PCMA’s efforts to help North American-based meeting professionals gain an international view.
“We’ve enhanced the global presence at this year’s program,” Johnson says. “There is a significant increase in the number of speakers and presenters from outside the US offering their insights and knowledge."
These experts will deliver advanced-level information on planning for financial success in China, introductory-level education on taking a meeting to the Middle East and an overview of emerging markets to help attendees understand which countries are most hospitable to tourism and which new business destinations offer the greatest sense of political stability.
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Regardless of where Convening Leaders attendees live and work, there are some hot-button, borderless topics, and Those conversations will be front and center in Boston. Perhaps one of the biggest issues that continues to create challenges for the planner-supplier relationship is the eRFP, but Johnson says that this year’s program won’t just talk about the problem. Instead, one session will look at how to tackle in a manner that can help the entire industry move forward together.
“We’re taking the eRFP conversation to the next level,” Johnson says. “Rather than just rehashing the problem, one of our Convene Live sessions is going to take a look at what’s next for this controversial subject to help everyone understand what technologies might eliminate some of the traditional challenges that come with electronic site selection.”
Outside of where planners will take their meetings, what they’ll serve attendees continues to create challenges as dietary restrictions become even more prevalent. Convening Leaders attendees will get to taste what’s next in F&B TV, a combination of a live cook-off and panel discussion about planning meals for thousands that can accommodate specific individual dietary needs.
“We don’t want attendees to hear about F&B,” Johnson says. “We want them to experience it.”
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Find out what else you can experience at Convening Leaders this year. Click here to browse the full session schedule, and make your plans to join the meetings industry in Boston.