Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 12 2016

The Top 10 Quotes Heard Around The Conference Industry In 2016

David McMillin


As 2016 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the most memorable perspectives that the top minds in conference design and travel innovation have shared throughout the past 12 months. Use these quotes to inspire your own approach to fueling success for your organization, your attendees and yourself in the new year.

1) “If you want to own the education in your space, you have to deliver it in multiple ways.”

Martin Sirk, CEO, ICCA at DMAI

The 60-minute face-to-face session is no longer the go-to format for learning. For the education departments at associations and societies, that means it’s time to diversify with more online courses, more live Twitter Q&A sessions and more white papers.

2) “The learning landscape is shifting. Personal and professional growth is no longer tied to degrees and certification programs. It’s about the experiences you gather and how those experiences shape your view of the world.”

Estelle Metatayer, founder of Competia and one of C2’s curators at C2 Montréal

While many members and attendees may still be looking to add three-letter acronyms to their signatures, an emerging generation of learners are skeptical of the need to enroll in traditional courses. They are looking for face-to-face conferences and conventions that do more than offer education credits; they want a can’t-get-this-anywhere-else kind of experience for their registration fees.

MORE: Rethinking Adult Education

3) “We’re all obsessed with delivering content to our attendees. What we could be doing is delivering assistance.”

Marc Pomerleau, Global Strategy, Vice President, FreemanXP at CEIR Predict

As organizations look to curate face-to-face educational sessions and online learning libraries, it’s important to remember that this industry is all about people. And people don’t just want content; they want personalized attention that will make their lives easier.

4) “If you don’t make a bold goal, you’ll never get there.”

Kitty Ratcliffe, President, St. Louis & Visitors Commission at PCMA Education Conference

When Ratcliffe spoke at the Women at Work session in St. Louis, one common thread tied her entire career journey together: she refuses to settle for small successes. As you look ahead to 2017 and beyond, take an ambitious approach to charging forward.

5) “We need to think less like designers and writers. We need to think more like inventors.”

Mike Yapp, Founder and Director, The ZOO at Google at C2 Montréal

Take whatever title is on your business card, and throw it out the window. You’re not a Director of Convention Services, a Vice President of Sales or any of the other terms used to describe meeting professionals and suppliers. You are an inventor — someone who is dedicated to new ideas, new opportunities and new ways of bringing people together.

6) “If you do not disrupt yourselves, someone else will disrupt you.”

Sarah Personnette, Vice President, Global Business Marketing, Facebook at SKIFT Global Forum

No matter what your business is doing, there is a competitor out there willing to do it differently. That different approach may turn out to be better and steal your organization’s attendees, guests, members or employees.

MORE: The New Word You Should Share With Your Marketing Team

7) “Loyalty, schmoyalty. Attendees are not loyal to you. They’re not loyal to your city, and they’re not loyal to your association. Attendees are driving their own experiences.”

Gregg Talley, President, Talley Management Group at PCMA Convening Leaders

Think your attendees will book a room in your housing block because it’s the “right thing” to do for the organization? Think again. In a conversation on the realities of room blocks in today’s OTA-driven world, Talley highlighted that attendees are going to do whatever they want to make their experiences more convenient and more cost-effective.

8) “Travel has never been about who you are. It’s about who you can become.”

Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb at Airbnb Open

Chesky’s lesson applies outside of the growing number of people staying in strangers’ homes; it’s equally important for the attendees who travel to conferences. They are there to become better at their jobs, to meet new career contacts and to grow their knowledge. Conference organizers can help them unlock the doors to new versions of themselves.

9) “You can’t manufacture authenticity.”

Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy, Airbnb at SKIFT Global Forum

Being authentic isn’t part of your brand architecture; it relies on every member of your organization striving for transparency and trustworthiness.

MORE: 3 Reasons Why Airbnb Is Achieving So Much Success

10) “Uncertainty is a brilliant thing for the trade show industry.”

Bob Bierman, Principal, Tiny World Media at CEIR Predict

Uncertainty may scare some business leaders, but Bierman highlights that the face-to-face industry is an essential piece of addressing worries. As businesses look ahead to a new Presidential administration in the US after a bitter election season, there may be a wave of new questions. The good news? Meetings, trade shows and conferences can be the place that uncovers the answers.

What were some of the best quotes you heard over the past year? Share them in the comments section below.

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