What Convening Leaders Attendees Think About …


Each day at Convening Leaders 2019 in Pittsburgh, Convene magazine is asking attendees a question related to their work and the business events industry.

Tuesday: How do you ensure inclusivity at your events?

“We make sure we have diversity among our panelists. In the aviation industry, there tend to be a lot of white men. So we have a diversity committee that is involved in program planning and memberships. We actively recruit a diverse group of members.”

Natalie Fleet, CMP, American Association of Airport Executives

“We engage in a lot of diversity and inclusive discussions at our company and at sessions. We bring [the] director of inclusion and diversity at our company to speak at events. And then we share how we have accomplished it at our own company, how it attracts good talent, and encourage others to do it too.”

Shannon Vrabel, CMP, Indeed

“We start from the registration process. There are no categories to define race, etc. You’re either a member or a nonmember. We try to make everyone, especially first-time attendees, feel equal. We also ensure that our speakers present a balance of men and women, etc. We represent 82 countries, so we are inherently diverse.”

Senthil Gopinath, ICCA

“Our members are doctors and researchers and they are actively involved in inclusive markets on their own, so they look to us for inclusive events. This includes looking for accessible rooms and space during site selection and inclusive communication. We make sure our emails are tailored to all audiences.”

Emily Flaskerud, Association of American Medical Colleges

Monday: What’s the first thing you do to get the lay of the land when you go on a site visit?

“I teach event management, so I teach my students to do their homework. I recommend checking out the destination’s image. Understand what its perception is and learn about its infrastructure.”

Shawn Jung, Ph.D., MBA, Metropolitan State University of Denver

“The first thing I do is check out the space to see if it’s large enough for what I need. I like to know the space options, based on the number of attendees I have and the best learning style for my group. The type of meeting dictates the setup.”

Dytrea Langon, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

“I try to prepare ahead of time by checking a few places based on my need. Then I definitely check ease of navigation for my attendees, the proximity of the program for attendees, smooth flow, and transition. I want to make it as user-friendly as possible.”

Jennifer King, CMP, Synnex Corp.

“When I’m checking out a hotel site, I check out the lobby, the common areas, the front desk check-in, restaurants, lower-level meeting space, the cleanliness, and access to seating. Security is another thing I check out, as well as restrooms (sometimes they’re hidden), the fitness facility, and parking.”

Ross Sawai, MCI USA

Sunday: Is there anything specific you want to master in the coming year?

I want to totally shatter the experience in the general session and breakout sessions and go from traditional to unconference. My definition of unconference is to break the mold of your traditional theater or classroom seating to something else that encourages conversation and activities so that people aren’t always seated. Also, I’d like to migrate away from PowerPoints so that speakers are just talking and not speaking to attendings.”

Stacey Trey, Smart Electric Power Alliance

I’m a small business. We do conferences and meetings. I’d like to build on our customer relations and learn more innovative things in the industry to pass onto our clients.

Lori Burke, CMP, LLB Enterprises, LLC

Follow-up. I want to follow up on any business cards I get. I get so many and I set them on my computer and they just pile up. I don’t do what I should with them. I mean, that’s why we’re here, right?

Jules Clifford, Event Photography of North America (EPNAC)

“I’ve been doing sales for 30 years. For me, it hasn’t changed much. If there’s a way of doing better at building relationships, I’d like to get there. Technology also is important for me. Technology is moving at warp speed and I’m an old dog. I’d like to catch up.”

Michael Nash, Marriott