Harness Human Energy to Power Company Culture

Company Culture, Human Energy, Family Atmosphere, FunWritten by Jill Pearson | Manager, Digital Marketing & Media

The top six factors in determining the Happiest Companies in 2016, reported by Forbes Magazine, were professional development, office environment, job resources, compensation, company culture, and work-life balance. While all these factors are important to employee satisfaction, one especially near and dear to our organization is company culture.

“Our culture is the heartbeat of our organization. Living the culture is more than a motto, it is one of our core principles and part of our genetic code,” said Tina Madden, CPA, CFO and Partner of M&IW. “We love what we do and it shows! It is fueled by our purpose, our passion, and our talented people who support each other, share core values, work hard, have fun, and deliver amazing results each day to our valued clients.”

In the spirit of living the culture, we are taking a deeper dive into what it takes to promote a positive company culture. What makes a company’s culture special? What do organizations need to talk more openly about in regards to what makes a company culture great? And what your organization might be missing?

First, it is important not to get lost in the numbers on a spreadsheet and miss out on the real energy that powers your success. Human energy is your best resource and it can make or break the success of your organization. But, the bigger question is how do you fuel this energy? What makes one organization’s culture greater than another?

We found that a key success factor in maintaining positive human energy is trust. At our annual company event, we experienced this firsthand – in the most unique and powerful way. During a collaboration session with Banding People Together, we learned that high-performing teams are like music bands; all entities need to trust each another and work together. Fostering trust requires individuals to be open and honest. And, that can make us feel vulnerable, which is not easy. To show this in action, Banding People Together had us recollect a song that held a deep memory. Afterwards, a few colleagues willingly shared their moment with the entire group of more than 220 individuals. They talked about the death of a loved ones, first loves and humorous experiences that made them unique. By being open and vulnerable with each other, it created a new level of trust, empathy and understanding within our company culture.

Another way we ignite our positive energy is by embracing a family atmosphere. It is not something that is just said, it’s a belief built on a core set of values to treat each other as family members and support work-life balance. Our employees are encouraged to pursue things they are passionate about outside of the office. It has been shown that once an individual’s basic needs are met, it is not necessarily material things that make them happier, but being able to give back and make a personal impact. Based on this theory. Jean Johnson, CMP, President and CEO, launched Project Global Give Back in December of 2014. “The goal of this initiative is to both strengthen our communities and the fulfillment of our M&IW family members,” said Jean Johnson. Employees are given paid time to volunteer for causes that are meaningful to them, plus M&IW will donate $100 to the charity of their choice. Check out the Project Global Give Back album to see our team members and their families supporting great causes.

Last, but not least, we find it is good to have a little fun in the workplace to increase camaraderie and employee satisfaction. This unique aspect of our culture is cultivated through contests, special drawings, dress-up days and company hosted celebrations like our Fun at Work Day and recent Halloween Costume Contest. Our employees look forward to these events as they add excitement to the work atmosphere. To amplify and reinforce our company culture, we share posts and updates to our social sites.

Positive human energy is essential to any organization and the power source is free! You need only tap into it.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows

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Why Certify? A Closer Look at the Value of the CIS

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

As members of M&IW’s Global Procurement team and Incentive Buyers descend upon Las Vegas (aka Sin City) for #IMEX16, we thought we would take a closer look at the Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) and the value this designation brings our team and our clients. In my discovery, I had the privilege to interview select members of our Global Incentive & Event Services team, specifically Tracy Norum, CMP, CIS, Director; Beth Reetz, CIS, Senior Incentive Buyer; and Senior Program Managers, Cara Turkowski, CIS and Katie Wiesner, CIS.

Let’s hear what they had to say….

A More Knowledgeable and Connected Team

By an overwhelming majority, one of the first benefits served up by each team member was that the CIS designation brought with it a new and valuable network of fellow incentive travel professionals. Cara put it best when she stated, “The class for the certification was a really great way to connect with others in the industry. It is especially helpful when planning international programs, as there are many destination management companies from around the world involved. It reassures me when partnering with them that they take incentive programs as serious as we do.”

The certification process brought incentive professionals with varied experience levels and skill sets together. The group cited that they learned a great deal simply by sharing best practices with each other during the course. Additionally, the more seasoned professionals, such as our M&IW team members, were called upon to share their insights and experiences with the group. This allowed for different vantage points from all around the world.

Katie pointed out that on a day-to-day basis the resources made available to CIS designees are extremely beneficial. The reference materials and newsletters keep the team current on destinations, new hot properties, popular CSR activities and industry insights.

A Confident Client

Clients have more confidence that our team is dedicated to incentives. Holding the designation helps M&IW stand out in the global marketplace. Prospective and current clients have noticed the CIS designation at the end of their names and it has sparked conversations about the credentials and dedication to staying educated in the field and building strong worldwide relationships. Tracy explains, “Obtaining the certification shows our commitment to staying on top of the industry. It holds the industry to a set of professional standards and shows that we are pursuing relevant education and looking to the future needs of our incentive clients.”

Beth shared that it has been very helpful having the designation when sourcing incentive programs. Suppliers in the industry recognize and respect the credentials and treat you as a knowledgeable buyer. This allows the buying and negotiation process to be more effective for our clients’ programs and giving them more confidence in the sourcing and contracting process. All in all, the amount of detail and planning that goes into an incentive program takes an experienced and knowledgeable buyer and having the CIS allows the team to perform at a higher level for our clients.

A Satisfied Employee

Investing in employees continuing education goes far deeper than the benefits it brings; it creates a culture of satisfied and fulfilled employees. M&IW has always valued and promoted industry certifications for their employees illustrated by the 65% of planners and account management at M&IW who hold either a CIS, CMP, CMM, HMCC, etc. This focus helps M&IW create promotable associates leading to a more satisfied and productive team. Cara spoke from her first-hand experience when she stated, “It has really opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to manage more elite incentive programs. The whole experience has changed the way I approach incentive program design and execution.”

“The CIS designation is important for developing incentive professionals as it demonstrates proficiency in the fundamentals of motivational programs. It is helping to raise the quality of professionals in the incentive industry. At M&IW, we believe it shows to our clients and our associates that M&IW truly cares and invests in the professional development and advancement of our team.” Tracy Norum, CMP, CIS.

A Final Thought

Obtaining designations such as the CIS take time and investment, however, the return is multi-faceted. Invest in your employees’ education and they will invest more in your clients and be leaders among their peers when sharing best practices and resources.

Posted in: Event Marketing & Communications, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Collaboration Rocks

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

So you think you know how to collaborate and “work well together”? Maybe.

Or maybe, you are all just cooperating…

You see, “If you aren’t aligned, you are not collaborating, you are simply cooperating.”

Take a rock band for instance. If the band is not in harmony playing as one, the music suffers and the entire experience is a flop. In fact, a lot more can be learned about collaboration from the rock star analogy because collaboration ROCKS, literally.

At our recent annual meeting, Campus Week 2016, our experience with Banding People Together made collaboration ROCK. These behaviorist rock stars truly understand how to immerse the participants in an experience that teaches them true collaboration and has them leaving the event with a better understanding of themselves, those around them and how to be a little less Gaga and a bit more Jimmy when needed.

Let me explain…

Banding People Together is out to change the way we conduct our events and they are doing so in a fun and unique way. Using their dynamic rock star personalities, musical talents and proven methodology on collaboration, they focus on organizational alignment and awareness. They are taking what they have learned from what is arguably the most volatile collaborative environment – rock bands and entertainment – and are bringing it to the corporate world through meetings and events. You see they believe, true collaboration is a skill that can be taught, developed, shared and measured. And after what we experienced, I believe they are spot on.

So, what are some of the great takeaways?

First, it’s all about the experience. Having a rock band on stage instead of a presenter flipping through presentation slides talking at the audience is way cooler to say the least. What’s more, it is more experiential, meaning the participants will retain the material and experience the content firsthand. Music affects us in ways our conscious mind can’t even begin to understand. Think of THAT song, the one that whenever you hear it, you are brought back to an EXACT moment in time instantly. Exactly.

Rock stars are cool. Strategist rock stars are cooler. I am likely speaking for everyone in the room when I say it was enthralling to be around such amazing talent on stage. The artists of Banding People Together were uber-talented, yet what was more impressive was their ability to use music and entertainment analogies in an intelligent way to create an awareness and understanding among the attendees. Breaking down the group by rock star personas based on several work styles was far more effective and easier to understand than any other personality assessment I have experienced. When I now tell my co-workers to please excuse my direct manner because I am a “Frank,” it makes a lot more sense to them versus explaining that my MBTI type is ENTP.

Easy to understand equals easy to use. It has been fascinating to me in the week following our experience with Banding People Together how many times I have heard the phrases, “It must be the Gaga in me” or “I am all Jimmy today.” This may seem silly, but in reality it is really changing our culture and collaborative efforts for the better by bringing awareness into the group with the use of these simple phrases. At M&IW, we already had an amazingly collaborative culture, but now, there is a level of understanding and alignment that was not present before. It is making conversations more fluid and productive and changing how everyone shows up to the task at hand.

Collaborative insanity hinders productivity. Simply telling people to work well together or simply uttering the words, “we work well together,” without practicing true collaboration is doing more harm than good. The five dysfunctions of a team, as defined by Patrick Lencioni, are the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. You may think or want to believe your team “works well together,” but what dysfunctions are present and how are you addressing them? Teaching your team to be truly collaborative is a step in the right direction and doing so in a manner that is extremely effective is invaluable.

True collaboration can change the world. There is one thing Alan Schaefer, Founder/CEO of Banding People Together, said in my first encounter with him that really stands out in my mind. He said, “the work we do is our way of impacting humanity in a whole different way. If we can change the workplace for the better, then we can change the family dinner table for the better which impacts families, impacts communities and the world.” Wow! What an amazing thought. It is very true. We spend 90,000 hours at work on average over our lifetime, and a large percentage of workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. More than 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress-related illnesses. Imagine the impact this is having on our families and our communities. What if we all liked our jobs just a bit more and found a little less stress in them every day if we simply learned how to truly collaborate with each other. Maybe it is time to learn how to show up to the table aligned and aware? It really could change the world.

All in all, our experience with Banding People Together rocked. We look forward to partnering with them to change the world…or at least meetings as we know them today.

As Banding People Together would say…

ROCK ON!

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Program Management & Event Design

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M&IW Campus Week Brings Industry Leading Content

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

During the M&IW Client Summit on Thursday, September 8, our resident subject matter experts will be leading engaging roundtable discussions designed to Go the Distance for today’s travel and event professional. We had the opportunity to catch a sneak peek of the topics and presenters. Here is a highlight of what they told us in our one-on-one interviews:

Tech Talk
Hosted by Tim LaFleur, CMP, Director, Mobile Strategy and Global Procurement – Suppliers & Chip Begley, Manager, Program Website & Mobile App Services, IT & Web Design

Our techies plan to cover two extremely hot topics that still cause a bit of confusion and mystery for most planners – Mobile Apps and WiFi/Internet.  Many planners want to know the variety of features and how various solution providers manages those features. When it comes to App solutions the devil is in the details and the details can make or break an effective meeting app. Similarly, there is so much still to learn about WiFi. Our tech experts will demystify the often confusing and misunderstood topic to allow planners to better manage internet needs for their meetings and events.

Participants will take away some basic next level thinking and be able to answer, “What does this all mean for me the planner?” This discussion will dive deep into the practicality of the topic by covering all the considerations that go along with it that can affect your work, the app and the attendee experience.

Talk Tech goes the distance by going further and digging deeper into a commonly discussed topic and challenge for today’s planners.  Much of the discussion that people are having regarding these topics only go about halfway leaving all sides without the proper understanding about what the other is saying.  This engaging roundtable discussion will aim to “Go the Distance” to create good, enriching and intelligent conversations about these topics where there hasn’t necessarily been in the past.

Event Planning Trends and Best Practices
Hosted by Christine Matias, MA, Director, Global Program Management Services, Steve Lorenz, CMP, HMCC, Senior Program Manager, Global Meeting Services & Ella Darby, Program Manager, Global Program Management Services

Our Event Planning Specialists will cover a plethora of topics during their engaging roundtable discussion from paperless meetings to shorter lead times and from the latest F&B trends to virtual meetings. Participants will leave with a great overview of the current trends affecting the industry and a better understanding of how we can all collaborate together to keep up with and change alongside them.

Event Planning Trends and Best Practices goes the distance by bringing to light current trends and trends on the horizon. Planners need to know where these trends are headed to know which road will help them “Go the Distance.”

Small Meeting Hotel Contracting
Hosted by Vicki Schmitz, VICKI SCHMITZ, HMCC, Manager, Global Procurement – Hotels

Small Meeting Hotel Contracting will reveal best practices in contracting specifically for small meetings. A high percentage of our client’s meetings are 75 guest rooms on peak or less and in most cases, these meetings have less than three months of lead time. During this engaging discussion, we will offer best practices that have helped today’s small meeting planner streamline the contracting process in order to expedite the final contract and give our clients the tools and resources to effectively prepare and plan for a successful meeting. Our featured hotel partners will disclose how they manage their small meeting contracts so participants will get an inside look from the hotelier viewpoint leading to a real discussion on ways to collaborate together to achieve success on both sides.

The audience will learn ways their industry partners are handling short term meetings and be able to take some of these ideas back to their own team to implement. In most cases, we all face the same challenges – especially in a seller’s market.   From a sourcing perspective, we all run into similar obstacles… limited availability, competitive rates and less flexibility.

Go the Distance is a constant theme for Sourcing. Buyers continue to strive to find clients the best possible options for their meetings to assist in achieving their meeting goals. We continuously work with our hotel partners to find the best possible fit and pricing. Understanding the dynamics from all angles and how to best collaborate together is where we all can “Go the Distance.”

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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M&IW Grants Wish and Goes the Distance

Make-A-Wish Lemonade Stand

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

It is with extreme humility and gratitude that we are publishing this article knowing that we just surpassed M&IW’s Make-A-Wish goal of granting a very deserving little girl with a life threatening illness her wish to go to the Grammy’s. It is for this reason that we are beyond honored to have the opportunity to interview Connie Nau, CMP, CRP, Senior Director of Recruiting & Administration, who brought this grand initiative to M&IW for our Annual Campus Week & Client Summit.

Connie shares her story and passion for Make-A-Wish in her thoughts below…

Why Make-A-Wish?
I have seen firsthand the incredible impact a granted wish can do for a child suffering from life threatening illness. We have a family friend that actually had a Wish granted for their child a few years ago. It was an unbelievable gift. Her Wish was to attend a Milwaukee Brewers game with her family – something that a lot of us take for granted – but to them it was so special. Since sadly losing their child, the family actually takes an annual Brewers trip in her honor every year, and her joy and the happiness she found in her granted Wish lives on in a lasting memory for all of them.

Make-A-Wish is an international organization, just like M&IW. Make-A-Wish Wisconsin is based in the Milwaukee area and a very active chapter. I think everyone at M&IW, whether they are parents or not, can empathize and want to help out a family where a child is battling a life threatening illness. There are so many causes, and I think it is wonderful that this year we are focusing on Make-A-Wish.
Getting More Involved

Just this past May, I pursued the opportunity to become a Wish Granter. I had a few business associates in the Appleton area that had become Wish Granters, and after seeing a live presentation of a child that had received a Wish, as well as having personal friends that had gone through receiving a Wish, I thought that maybe this was a way that I could personally give back. It was simple to get started – I reached out to Make-A-Wish to inquire about the volunteer and Wish Granter training schedule – and I signed up. I spent a Saturday in the Milwaukee area training facility. The training was extremely thorough, and I have been impressed through the entire process. There are very specific rules and guidelines to follow, as the ultimate goal is to make this a positive experience for the child. During that training – there were actually two volunteers there that were parents of a child that had their Wish granted. They were there because it was their time to give back. I was in awe of them and their stories and felt so blessed… so grateful for all that I had at that moment.

Granting Wishes Live
In February this year, I was at a function where we raised enough money to grant THREE Wishes. I’m not sure how to explain the level of emotion in that room when they announced what that group of about 400 people had done in just a few hours. During that function a Wish Child and her mother actually came up on stage to talk about her illness, and to talk about the Wish that they received. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place – big burly men included! To hear how this Wish can bring a happy focus to a sometimes long and difficult situation was so impactful to me. I knew at that very moment that I would get involved, and I reached out to that business colleague that same week to get the information on how they got involved and to start the process.

Taking a Global Effort Local
Make-A-Wish Wisconsin was able to locate a child for M&IW’s initiative from the Racine area – which is so close to M&IW’s headquarters! So she and her family are our “neighbors” in some respect. Our Wish Child is “Sarah”, a 12-year old who is living with a life-threatening blood disorder. Sarah enjoys reading, watching TV, going to sleepovers and singing – just like any other 12-year-old girl! She also loves listening to all kind of music. Sarah wishes to go to the Grammy’s. Our company goal was to raise enough funds through our Campus Week initiative to grant her Wish! With Campus Week still one week away, we have reached our goal! We are now setting our bar even higher to see if we can raise enough funds to grant another child’s Wish!

Everyone Can Get Involved
Make-A-Wish Wisconsin is attempting to grant 365 wishes in 2016 – one a day! If you don’t have time to be a Wish Granter, you can also just volunteer for specific short term projects or events. For people at M&IW or in the meetings industry – this is an easy one. There are many gala events, golf tournaments, and wine tasting that need assistance. So you can sign up and volunteer for a single event.

Any of our clients, vendor partners and employees can get involved in the fundraising initiative to grant this Wish. You can go out to our main page at http://site.wish.org/goto/miww and Donate to the cause, and even Join the cause. If you want to have your own fundraising page, there is a button there to Join the fundraiser. When you do that, you can build your own page within our main site, and then you can share your Make-A-Wish page on your own social media pages. All funds raised from those sites will tally into our main fundraiser. It is that simple! Read more about M&IW’s team efforts: http://racinecountyeye.com/local-company-helping-grant-middle-schoolers-wish/

Final Thoughts
“It is such a great opportunity to do something very special for a child. If anyone is interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities or how to start a Make-A-Wish giving campaign at your organization, I would be happy to share my insight and get you connected to the right people!” Connie Nau, CMP, CRP

Posted in: Company News, Event Marketing & Communications

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Comprehensive Security Training Goes the Distance

Global Security Training and Situational Awareness

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

When it comes to successful event management, every planner knows that the safety of the participants and event management team is the highest priority. The industry has made significant strides in emergency preparedness in the last 15 years. Risk management and proper preparation in understanding the risks and having a complete communication and response plan is paramount. At M&IW, we take this topic very seriously for the safety of our employees, clients and attendees. Our risk management procedures, process and resources are second-to-none and based off the best practices in events industry as well as group travel security services. What’s more, we are excited to welcome the top experts in this field to help us Go the Distance during M&IW’s Campus Week and Client Summit. As a highlight to the content that will be presented during the event, Clay Hendon, VP of Global Security for Groundwork, graciously shared some insight into his topic that he is extremely passionate about.

[M&IW] Your topic, AWARE Security Training, is very relevant to today’s meeting planner and professional. What is the goal of your training and message?

[Clay] The goal of our training is to leave the individual attendees with improved situational awareness and an elevated appreciation for the threats faced when traveling. We will give an overview of those threats, define and describe situational awareness mindset, then walk through tips and tricks for improving awareness and preparing for travel. We try to keep the training relevant and real – it’s not about fancy words and catch phrases, it’s about delivering important safety and security information to our students, and following through with the “so what” part that many classes over look: what do you do with these skills before, during, and after an incident? These individual skills not only make our attendees safer travelers, but more alert meeting professionals and event participants.

[M&IW] What does a greater understanding of global threats provide for event professionals?

[Clay] A heightened sense of individual situational awareness. Meeting professionals will have a deeper understanding of global threats, and their ability to anticipate threats ahead of time – and plan for them – will be increased. They should leave safer, more secure, and more efficient travelers and meeting professionals.

[M&IW] Why is it imperative for every meeting professional to be trained in the area of global security?

[Clay] Meeting planners have an incredible level of control over the events they coordinate. Clients rely on the advice and experience of meeting professionals in the areas of air travel, ground logistics, catering… and security. Except most clients don’t know to ask or, even worse: assume you – the meeting planner – are already addressing it. The awareness this training instills will leave meeting planners better equipped to ask the right questions, recommend the right vendors and support personnel, and ultimately provide the safest and most successful events for their clients.

[M&IW] How can meeting professionals Go the Distance with global security?

[Clay] In order to Go the Distance, you have to overcome many obstacles. In the traditional meeting planner space, this has meant vendor or venue issues, client changes, and service failures at the airport or hotel. Today’s world is changing constantly. For companies to truly Go the Distance and be successful in the coming years, they will have to be conscious of the prevailing security environment, and have plans in place to protect their attendees and staff. Groundwork AWARE training prepares your team to Go the Distance by making the path safe and secure.

[M&IW] Tell us something unique about you or your experience?

[Clay] I am a West Point graduate and US Army infantry officer with a degree in Irregular Warfare and over 24 months of combat experience. I have taught defensive pistol tactics and combat mindset to police departments, military units, and civilians. I am also a second-year MBA candidate at the University of Texas and a former management consultant to Fortune 500 companies. My experiences inside and outside the security industry allow me to see security problems from multiple perspectives. Groundwork is able to find solutions that are not only safe, but feasible and enjoyable for the principal.

M&IW is proud to partner with Groundwork for the upcoming M&IW Campus Week and Client Summit. Groundwork provides a range of services to clients, from security-trained drivers, to travel security training, to high-tech threat awareness solutions. They serve as a trusted resource when our clients encounter a travel security issue.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Group Air Travel Management, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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Corporate Giving Programs are Not Just Good for Business

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Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director, Marketing & Strategic Development

Some of the world’s largest and most profitable corporations have integrated measures to promote good citizenship, corporate giving, and community involvement programs into their mission statements and business models. And, it is paying off. There is no denying that giving to your favorite charity feels good. But did you know, charitable initiatives can have a far greater and more lasting impact on your company than you may think. More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents in Nielsen’s third annual global online survey said they prefer to work for a socially responsible company. And on top of that statistic, more than half (55%) of global respondents in the same study say they are willing to pay extra for products or services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

In 2014, Meetings & Incentives Worldwide was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in America and made the Inc. 5000 List. At the Inc. 500 | 5000 Conference, Jean Johnson, President and CEO was inspired by Adam Grant, bestselling author of Give and Take. She set an ambitious goal to create a best-in-class program that would benefit all of our employees working across the globe and started Project Global Giveback. The program provides paid time off for employees to support their charities of choice along with matching donations.

In addition to participation on an individual basis, the company also supports collective efforts throughout the year. Does your company participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities at your corporate events? Our experience with our clients is that attendees want to have an impact beyond the meeting or incentive program. According to Susan Cooney, founder and CEO of Givelocity, “combining efforts in charitable activities brings people together to share their voice and work jointly for a greater impact in driving change.” They want to give back to causes and communities. This year, at our annual company event, Meetings & Incentives Worldwide is supporting Make-A-Wish of Southeastern Wisconsin. We are featuring activities to engage our employees leading up to the event, a collaborative team building exercise during our meeting, and an easy way to invite family and friends to donate.

Check out our Make-A-Wish fundraising page and how we are performing on our goal to make a wish come true for a very special little girl! Interested in supporting the cause? Simply click on the link and donate today!

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications

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Mindful Event Design Goes the Distance

Psychology of Physical Meeting Environments

Mindful Event Design – Andrea M. Sullivan, M.A. and Janet Sperstad, CMP

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

Good event design equates to constructing effective environments that produce measurable outcomes. Great event design is more mindful of the entire cognitive experience. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Janet Sperstad, CMP co-author of Mindful Event Design and Program Director of Madison College’s Meeting and Event Management degree program, about just that. She’ll also be sharing her genius at M&IW’s Campus Week and Client Summit in September.

A few of the insightful points she made were…

The New Event Design Conversation

A new and innovative perspective on event design is being mindful of the psychology and physiology of how humans react to certain environments that planners create when designing programs and sessions. By bringing forth a conversation to help people look at the logistics as a means to construct and create experiences and how those experiences have a physiological impact on participants, planners will start to become more mindful of certain event design aspects. Planners are very concerned, as they should be, with measurable outcomes and constructing a good environment. That being said, what isn’t being talked about is the event design as it relates to the psychology and physiology of bringing people together from the neurological and cognitive science standpoint.

By not being mindful, planners may be inadvertently creating psychological minefields. Big room, lots of people, loud music, bright lights. Human brains have evolved to first and foremost keeps us safe and such strong stimuli triggers warnings in our brains due to the sensory overload. Another example may be having too dark of a room where a participant either can’t find their colleagues or they might be nervous to see people they are not prepared to see. Ultimately, planners are potentially putting people in a state of threat and danger.

These event design aspects are what lead people to sit at the back of a room or toward the aisle for an easy escape. It all boils down to the subconscious’ reaction to the environment that has been created.

How Can Planners Be More Mindful

One of the simplest things a planner can do to be more mindful is simply taking a look at the environment they have created and ask themselves; how am I helping the participants get the best experience and am I creating a situation that is going to provide the best outcome as it relates physiological responses? Am I putting people in a state of cognitive threat?

Changes don’t need to be big. Simple moderations to the design and logistics can have a large impact on how the mind reacts. Many times it is some of the simplest of changes, such as choosing walk-in music that you can sway to, that can change the cognitive response to a more positive one. The brain can organize music it can sway to unlike other types of music that the brain can’t organize and as a result triggers chaos in the brain. Planners can change participants’ innate chemical reactions by being mindful about the design.

How is Mindful Event Design Going the Distance?

Mindful event design clearly relates to M&IW Campus Week’s theme, Go the Distance. The topic pushes beyond boundaries of normal event management conversations and helps planners think and work differently. When planners prepare themselves to Go the Distance, they are only as good as they train, while practice helps them be the best they can be, pushing the paradigms of how they think allows them to prepare yourself to Go the Distance in event design. Ultimately, this helps planners create great mindful events that go above and beyond the norm.

In events, planners are creating temporary communities of culture. This is a perfect topic for looking at the cognitive science of human interaction in culture and collaboration to create what they want in that moment. By doing so, planners drive deeper meaning to those moments creating more impact for the culture, the collaboration and the clients who are experiencing the event.

The Evolution of Mindful Event Design

As a planner for 18 years, being fascinated with what planners do and why they do it became an obsession which led to being inspired by event marketing and thinking about the higher level of the planning process. Planners have this amazing ability to think high-level strategy and immediately equate it to tactical logistics. When measuring satisfaction, planners can survey and measure the responses, but in the end, it really all came down to one thing. How the participant felt. Perhaps an amazing keynote speaker was secured for $20,000 but it wouldn’t matter if the participant’s energy and feelings were not in a place to be receptive to the keynote’s message. And that began the mindful event design journey of how to help that participant be in a better place for them to want to network and be open to new ideas.

Not having a background in science and having a degree in criminal justice was not an obstacle. Learning science was very intimidating at first, but the drive to Go the Distance prevailed. And thus, began the idea of mindful event design and all the things that planners can bring into their world about cognitive science that will allow them to perform at their peak.

In closing, Janet shared that she is beyond excited to be speaking at M&IW’s Campus Week and Client Summit since it will provide her the opportunity to address an audience that is clearly dedicated and passionate about helping people have transformational experiences through events. She is excited to share her topic to help a culture of intelligent people think even more intuitively about what they do and how they can do it more mindfully.

Interested in learning more about this topic, read the whitepaper commission by PSAV and authored by Andrea E. Sullivan, M.A. Founder, Brain Strength Systems Media and Janet Sperstad, CMP, Director, Meeting and Event Management Program Madison College. Mindful Event Design Whitepaper

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Program Management & Event Design

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7 Questions to Ask Before Implementing Cvent

Cvent Award 2016 Finalist

Posted by Dan Tarpey | Sr. Director, Strategic Solutions

Imagine this… You have finally made the decision to invest in a sophisticated meeting management technology, you have gone through training and implementation and you Freeze! Now what? How do you maximize the investment in this dynamic solution and make it relevant to your business and workflows?

From mapping the SMM process and creating the meeting request forms to reporting and consolidation of spend; to the tactical operations of website builds, attendee management, surveys and On Arrival, there are dozens of items your team will need to tackle and even more lurking around every corner.

Here are just a few things to think about after implementation and training:

  1. How to prioritize tasks for sourcing, registration, meeting management and spend tracking?
  2. Who is part of the ongoing Cvent Admin Team to manage updates and workflow improvements?
  3. Why logic should be implemented within the tool to create the appropriate workflows?
  4. How will process forms be used to help with your workflow and assignments?
  5. What metrics and data points will be needed to track ROI on the solution?
  6. Who will manage and document workflow and process improvements internally?
  7. What is the best way to customize templates for RFPs, registration sites, budgets and reports?

A bit overwhelmed after reading these initial items to consider?

Don’t fret! M&IW knows what it takes for an organization to perform at its best and Go the Distance! M&IW was awarded Cvent Plannie Awards for Savvy Sourcing and Power of the Platform. Our certified associates have in-depth knowledge of Cvent’s capabilities and what you need to know to get the most of out of your investment.

We are offering a no-cost, no obligation consultation to address your most pressing Cvent questions. After this conversation, we guarantee you will walk away with answers and new insights; what you need to know before you implement, the best way to get started, and why it is important to demonstrate the value of Cvent to your C-suite? If this sounds of interest, simply CLICK HERE to sign up.

Posted in: Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Top 10 Reasons to Collect Relevant Data

Data, Analyses, Insight, SMM

Written by Jill Pearson | Digital Marketing Manager

Data analytics is the science of collecting and examining raw data with the purpose of drawing conclusions about the information. These analyses are used by organizations to make better business decisions, especially where change is the outcome. In Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) there is a plethora of data available for collection, analysis and reporting, however the relevance of the data depends on the questions requiring answers. Thus, answering the ‘why’ of needing the data is a great place to start. Below is a list of Top 10 Reasons to Collect Relevant Data from our expert contributors, David Sachs, Director of Analytics and Lisa Palmeri, VP of Strategic Account Solutions.

1. To support the need for a change in operations or process.

People often fear change, especially without supporting data to validate the need for it. Many times we see a need for a change in a process within our organizations but approaching policy-makers with your opinion or gut instinct will not hold much ground without concrete data to support it. In today’s metrics-driven world, data is required in order to institute change or justify a business case for it.

2. To gain visibility to the unknown.

Industry professionals are smart! Our intuition often guides us when making key decisions, however data is useful in proving our instincts right. Actionable insights add clarity to the unknown which will support or challenge a theory, both of which are invaluable in decision-making.

3. To reduce risk.

Why is it that an employee cannot purchase a stapler without following certain protocols, but they can enter into a hotel contract for a meeting with little or no scrutiny? Often, people tasked with planning meetings and events in an organization are not meeting professionals, but rather meeting planning is a part of their job responsibilities. As such, they are not experts in understanding and negotiating the terms of a meeting contract and sign agreements that may not support the best interests of their company. This practice exposes both the individual signing the agreement as well as the organization to risk should an issue arise with the contract, or in the event the meeting cancels and penalties are assessed. There are also terms that, if not properly addressed or omitted, could jeopardize the safety or well-being of attendees of that meeting. Having historical bid data or analytics that identify suppliers with whom it’s safe to do business, or to support professional procurement practices, can reduce or eliminate this risk all together.

4. To demonstrate compliance with regulations.

No one wants to be called out for non-compliance. Whether it’s following company policies, regulatory guidelines, accounting principles, or laws, being compliant is key to job security. This is especially critical to health care and life sciences organizations who need to demonstrate compliance to Health Care Professional (HCP) transfer of value transparency laws. It’s not enough to have regimented processes for transparency, government entities want to see that the data is reported in such a way that it meets the letter of the law(s). That is why at M&IW we have a dedicated HCP reporting department whose sole job is to support the compliance needs of our clients.

5. For Executive Management support of a new idea.

Executive management, especially in publicly held companies, are being tasked with ensuring that all the decisions they make support quarterly earnings! It’s fun to be the initiator of a new idea with the potential to dramatically streamline a process, improve the bottom line and increase those earnings. Many such opportunities exist when implementing a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP). As mentioned in point #1, suggesting new concepts may be admirable, but they won’t go very far without analytics to support them. It’s not enough to illustrate historical evidence that the innovation could improve the bottom line. Often predictive analytics are necessary to project how that idea will benefit the organization going forward. Leverage data to build a business case for specific elements of an SMMP that will yield the highest ROI or provide other tangible benefits to the organization.

6. To build stronger partnerships with key suppliers.

Knowing what you spend and with whom is the first step in establishing preferred or strategic supplier partnerships. These relationships work best when they provide a win-win for both parties. Suppliers are looking for increased market share (a larger piece of the pie as compared to their competitors) in exchange for discounts and other financial incentives. This leads us to a common failure with SMM implementation. Most SMMPs go in with a consolidation approach that is challenging, especially in today’s suppliers’ market, to build compliance around. While it’s good in theory, management also doesn’t want to micro-manage or otherwise mandate the use of suppliers. A better approach is to align with partners with whom your organization naturally gravitates towards, whether because they provide a level of service meeting managers and attendees can depend on, they are geographically well-positioned, and/or they offer financial benefits already that may be improved upon as market share increases. Regardless of the approach in selecting key suppliers with whom to partner, having the data that supports who to approach in the first place is a critical success factor.

7. To leverage greater amounts of spend in order to put into place spend controls.

How do you determine spend controls or thresholds? Establishing spending baselines can be challenging if you are limited to using industry benchmarks simply because there aren’t many meetings-related benchmarks available to reference. Reviewing your organization’s spend data on common elements such as guest room rates, meeting space rental and meals, by city and/or time of year, can lead to spend limits or controls that make sense.

8. To validate cost avoidance and savings.

Cost savings and avoidance are often cited as the number one reason organizations will deploy a managed meetings program. Unless you have a consistently applied methodology to track and report in these areas, you may be challenged in understanding if real savings is being achieved. Data validates your cost savings and avoidance efforts and can serve to identify trends and opportunities for more strategic negotiations or cost-cutting measures. When it comes to saving money, knowledge is power.

9. To validate ROI.

As previously mentioned, measuring the performance and success of a managed meetings program includes the ability to report out on Return on Investment. ROI can be measured in several different contexts. Starting at a high level, measuring an SMMP’s overall program ROI based on the cost to run the program as compared to the savings and cost avoidance delivered. Often, companies deploying meeting management software are tasked with validating the ROI on technology expenditures versus efficiency gains. At a more granular level, ROI may be measured for certain types of meetings in which a financial benefit is an expected outcome. This is commonly measured in sales and marketing related meetings and events, where increased sales and revenue are compared to the cost to operate the meeting.

10. Drives innovation in event attendee experiences.

Collecting data from an attendee level is a must to the success of future events. Today’s meeting attendees expect to engage with their fellow attendees before, during and after an event. They expect to connect using social media, to be recognized and to experience some degree of personalized service while at the meeting. Event apps are becoming very sophisticated and are able to offer many innovative solutions. With the massive amount of data apps are capable of collecting; event professionals can gain valuable insight into attendee’s preferences and drive new innovative initiatives. Data drives attendee satisfaction thus supporting your events’ ROI.

Download our Collecting Relevant Data to Affect Change handout to learn more. It features the top 10 list along with SMM scenarios for capturing data and the best practices of successful organizations. Interested in receiving additional resources and updates to your inbox? Simply click the Subscribe Today button below.

Posted in: Company News, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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