Final Notes from e4 Cafe “The Evolving Value Proposition of F2F Association Meetings”

August 13, 2009

Judy kent profileBy Judy Kent, Experient

Thanks to all who attended our session at e4.  I hope you all enjoyed the topic.  We loved the passion that you all showed in coming up with “What will the meetings of the future look like?”.  We looked at five burning areas/questions and focused our attention on them.  Below is a recap that you as a group developed through your sharing.  Stay tuned for a great study that will be released in October from Oxford Economics on this very topic.  It will be very educational and pivotal to our industry.  We will post it once we received.

1. Grow/Retain Membership and Attendance – What role do conventions and meetings play in increasing and maintaining membership for an association, driving attendance or motivating people to attend an association’s meeting?  Will larger meetings be a thing of the past associations shift to smaller regional meetings costing less to produce?   Do you believe associations will begin merging or partnering with other similar accredited associations to build attendance?


Halal, Kosher and Celiac! OH MY!

August 12, 2009

BHoulihanBy Brenda Houlihan – Experient

Do you get the question, “Why are you a Meeting Planner?   For myself, it was an easy transition.  I was the youngest of five children in a large Irish Catholic family.  Honestly, daily meals were food and beverage functions and birthdays were special events.  I took the skills learned at an early age and expanded to a large family of corporate and association clients ranging from 1000 – 24,000 attendees.

The food and beverage policy at home was, “If it is served, you eat it!”  There was no discussion of whether you ate meat, pasta, carbs, fish and drank milk or water.  Growing up there was no concern with fat grams, fiber, sodium or choices due to convictions.  (My mom did go through a cost cutting period where she served Carnation Instant Milk.  A one-third cup serving of NESTLÉ CARNATION Instant Nonfat Dry Milk is rich in bone-building nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D, is a good source of protein, and is fat free.  Take it from me,  I drank a lot of water during that time.)

Gone are the days of meat and potatoes. Nothing could have prepared me for the international, religious or dietary requirement of today’s conferences.   In today’s multicultural world, food choices that were once considered obscure are now part of the mainstream. Now, conference producers need to be aware of all the reasons why people choose special diets ranging from religious practices and ideological beliefs, to allergies, special diets and food sensitivities.  Read the rest of this entry »

We Are The Faces of the Meetings Industry

August 11, 2009


Debbi Beldon, CMPExperient

Just got back from e4 – what a terrific time we had networking with clients, partners and colleagues. I learned a lot too. For instance, I learned that people really will follow me on Twitter, even though I’m not exactly sure why yet. I learned that I need more than five hours sleep a night and apparently that I get cranky if 45 minutes goes by without eating something. I also learned that it is unwise to drink an entire Diet Coke if the session is going to be 90 minutes long and the bathroom is a mile and a half away.

But seriously, I also had the pleasure of attending the closing general session where we learned from Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association about what’s going on with the events industry.
Read the rest of this entry »

WARNING: System Overload!

August 10, 2009

NJohnsonBy: Nora Johnson, SMMP Services Specialist, Experient

Data, reports, e-mail, blogs, websites, conference calls, voicemail, projects, news releases, reports, data, data, data: information. Chaotic and overwhelming, and made even more so as we toss in a few additional factors: past, present and future. Now that you may be experiencing an anxiety spike and your fingers are itching to check your e-mail, you should take this moment to stop and breathe

We are fortunate to have a lot of information available to us, and if not readily available, we at least have the means to gather the information. However, in trying to keep up, we find that there is more information than we can possibly process, there is information from questionable sources or there is conflicting information. Regarding information – we’re at an impasse.

How do we stop the madness? We don’t. We just need to learn Read the rest of this entry »

State Dinner at E4

August 6, 2009

By Andy Smith Experient

Dinner_NixonThe e4 content has helped each of us take networking into a new dimension. Within the span of three days we integrated true Lifeline Relationship Networking with Keith Ferrazzi. Rapidly we integrated technology with blogs, facebook, linkedin, and twitter. And then the amazing happened – e4 attendees experienced time travel networking with visits from several DC based famous and infamous Presidents at the e4 State Dinner.Dinner_LincolnThe time travel was good, but there have been some troubling side effects. Suddenly jords are wumbled. Suddenly motts are jangled. Suddenly we do not know if we are in our poom or rose.   Fortunately, the fine entertainers at Capital Steps will help us regain our tasp of gralk soon.



If not, Stephen Nold has agreed to perform another pecha kucha aria to get us back on track.

Lets all be bold, give a da*n, and connect throughout the weeks and months ahead. The journey is only beginning.

Is the Conference Over Yet? Is It Ever Really Over?

August 6, 2009

headshot karenBy Karen Watson, CMP Experient

“You’ve just finished your annual conference!  What’s next?”

“I’m headed to Disneyland!”

Not kidding.  One day’s break to do laundry and re-pack and I’m taking my 7-year old to San Diego and Disneyland before the school year starts up.  

In the age of 24/7 access and the need to provide fresh content to a website or blog throughout the year to keep your audience interested, there’s barely time to think about thank you letters and paying this year’s bills before it’s on to next year’s program.  It’s almost like the concept of “annual conference” is gone because we must continue to build our audience and market the event and provide updates throughout the year.  Social media has increased both the opportunities to do this as well as the pressure to do so. 

We are insane!  I truly believe it.  But we’re also addicted.  There’s nothing like the sense that all the work has paid off and the meeting has actually happened!  And hopefully been a success!  But my mind is already racing on what will be waiting in my email Inbox when I return and what I’ll already be behind on.  Do we have fresh blog posts going in?  When can we get the photos uploaded to the website?  Is the RFP ready to issue?  What are we thinking about content for next year?  Do we need to send a reminder out on the conference survey?

Disney6It is a bit of a shame if we can’t enjoy the moment.  Relish a bit of relaxation.   A simple “Whew!”  Find balance.  Appreciate an ending before moving on to the next beginning.  And guess what?  There’s no choice but to seek that balance for ourselves, so I’m off to do just that.


Creating Connections-Welcome Reception

August 4, 2009


By Jennifer Sommers, InterContinental Hotels

Wow, Gaylord National really rolled out the red carpet to welcome us all to e4, 2009!

The view of the Potomac alone out of that massive front window at sunset was something to see. I also enjoyed the music of all kinds but I have to say my favorite was the Mariachi band. I, for one, will have a particular song running through my head today; a little ditty you may recognize that begins with; “Ey, yi, yi, yi…”

The food was just awesome. Lamb, lobster, scallops, short ribs, potatoes, pizza, salsa’s, etc. I don’t think a thing was missed. Frankly, if you couldn’t find something to eat you just weren’t looking. WelcomeReceptionCrowd

It was great to see everyone together in one place as well after chatting about the event to come over the past couple of months. In the first 8 hours I’ve already met a dozen or so new contacts and picked up the ball on a conversation I’d been having with someone via this very e4 blog! Of course it’s always great to see old friends as well as making new acquaintences while we all gear up for what will surely be an informative few days to come.

What a wonderful kick off and a night to remember!