Practice Gratitude at Your Live Events

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

“Thanksgiving seems like a holiday that is as American as apple pie, or pumpkin pie for that matter. However, there are variants of this day all around the world. Their meanings, dates and customs may have different nuances, but they all revolve around the concept of gratitude,” said Kristy Puchko in her article How Seven Other Nations Celebrate Thanksgiving.

Although most of the U.S. population celebrates an official day of gratitude called Thanksgiving– Native Americans have always had a deep tradition of routinely giving thanks. For those that practice gratitude on a consistent basis, you experience the positive energy it brings into your daily routine. And, if you take it one step further by practicing gratitude with the masses, it can truly be life-changing.

At M&IW, our purpose is to transform organizations through live meetings and events. We believe seamless and engaging experiences capitalize on the need for human connections. We also believe that the energy that is generated when people come together is when the magic happens.

Now, what if we were to take the collective human energy in a live event scenario and turn it into gratitude? Can you imagine the impact it might have at your conference or national sales meeting? As professional event planners, we are well-aware that what keeps individuals coming back to live meetings and events is the experience. And, the experience is more often how the participant feels versus what they think about the event.

CSR programs have done wonders for the experience at events. So, why don’t we bring the concept of practicing gratitude together into an event setting more often? Why not create environments, activities and space for attendees to practice gratitude and make the experience truly unforgettable?

Here are five tips for practicing gratitude at your next event:

1. Gratitude Event Hashtag – Consider a special hashtag that gives participants an avenue to say what they are thankful for during your event and then display the social stream at monitors around the conference. The hashtag can be as simple as the meeting name with “Thankful For” or “Moments of Gratitude” at the end of it. For instance, #Meeting2017ThankfulFor or #Meeting2017MomentsofGratitude.

2. Gratitude Wall – Construct a portable wall in a common space or designate a gratitude wall where attendees are free to write moments of gratitude. Simply title the wall, “Today, I am thankful for…” and watch the wall fill up with moments that will make you laugh, moments that may bring a tear and moments that leaving you feeling full of gratitude.

3. Keynote Speaker on Practicing Gratitude –Hire a speaker that has a story of gratitude and shares strategies to incorporate practicing gratitude into one’s daily habits. These stories are inspirational, motivational and participants use tips to bring these habits into their daily routine.

4. Be Still Space – Consider creating a space where attendees can practice stillness on demand. A quiet area with soft seating. Hang inspirational sayings and thoughts of appreciation to inspire thoughts of gratitude during stillness.

5. Gratitude Signs – Create signage that has moments of gratitude written on them and spread them through the event space. As attendees walk from session to session, they will catch moments to be thankful for which may inspire those same thoughts among the participants.

When the purpose of these environments and activities are promoted appropriately to the participants, the impact on how participants feel about a conference, meeting or event can be enormous. Attendees may not even be able to express the experience in words, but the feeling that they get may be enough to make for an amazing experience. What’s more, it is a well-known fact, when people practice gratitude they are more open to new information and able to retain new concepts easier because their mind and hearts are open.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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Is Beacon Technology Right for You and Your Event?

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Written by Tim LaFleur, CMP | Director, Mobility Solutions and Apps

Technology is all around. Meeting planners and the public in general are high volume consumers of the technology advancements that are defining our time right now. Attendees have an unquenchable thirst for their events to be more technologically savvy. In 2015, Beacons and Beacon technology made a splash in the industry. I was intrigued to see how many events would start to utilize this technology and what they would do with it. As a mobility expert at a global event management company that oversees 2,500+ events a year, I have been keeping watchful eye on the progression and proliferation of this technology. To date, there hasn’t been the widespread adoption that I thought I would see with it being in play for 18+ months. It made me question, if event planners truly understand what it is and how to decide if it’s right for their programs. There are potential drawbacks that could make Beacon technology go the way of the QR code. Let’s explore what this technology is and what meeting planning professionals need to know.

Beacon Technology, what is it?

Before we start, it is important to note that Beacon is a technology standard and not necessarily a specific product. This means that any Beacon provider will supply the same basic functionality such as the ability to identify and trigger wireless communication. For conferences, beacons are small devices that transmit a message via Bluetooth to select mobile applications on an attendee’s personal mobile device. Show organizers and meeting planners can set the blast radius to allow for multiple Beacons to be set up in a methodical way. The range allocations are generally up to the Beacon providers, but typically can cover anywhere from 5 feet or in some extreme cases 300 feet.

As with any technology, power management needs to be considered. Like anything else, battery life is dependent on the setting (i.e. the range you have your Beacon set for, how long you have it powered on, quality of Beacon, etc.). But, on average, a Beacon should last you several months. Some Beacons are also equipped with a battery that can be changed which will greatly extend the use of the Beacon. By connecting the dots, we see that if you use the same or another app developer company that supports that specific Beacon type, you can get multiple uses out of the physical Beacon therefore increasing the ROI.

Is it right for you and your event?

Is “XYZ” technology right for our event is a question that I get asked regularly. Most of the time the conversation revolves around capabilities and if the features are robust enough for the event in question. I feel that with any technology you should ask yourself; what are my main goals of the event; what are we trying to achieve; and then decide if the technology can play a role to support that vision. Then, it is important to discuss features of the technology and if it can support the event design. Below are some basic questions to ask when deciding if this technology is right for your event:

• Are your attendees mobile-tech savvy?
• Do your attendees enjoy push notifications or do they see them as noise?
• Do you work with an app company that supports Beacons?
• Do you have a communication plan that will govern their usage?
• Do you have a Beacon schematic so attendees are not bombarded with multiple messages simultaneously?
• Do you have buy-in from your sponsors that may want to the leverage this technology?

Ultimately, what the industry and planners need to be mindful of is how Beacons fit into and complement the overall event design. If you cannot easily articulate the benefits of having the technology, then maybe it is not something you should be implementing at your meeting. I have heard of shows that put a Beacon in the motor coach during airport pick-ups so that when participants get on the bus it sends them a welcome message. Or, placing them along the way to registration so that when attendees pass by it alerts them to prudent messages. These are a few simple examples of the ways in which Beacons can provide value for your event and elevate the attendee experience.

Will it be around in two years?

Like any technology I often look at it and wonder if it will be around in two years? When it comes to the future use of Beacons, I question if it will take hold in the industry or quickly extinct. For this technology to succeed, it needs to be deployed so that it provides extreme value to the attendee and an unsurpassed “WOW” factor for events. I do think the technology has a real opportunity since Bluetooth can not only deliver messages, but also in some cases track an attendee’s location at a trade show and transmit relevant offers. All of which could lead to an elevated attendee experience.

On the flip side, there are challenges with Beacons that threaten it gaining widespread adoption:
1. Beacons require the user to do something extra on their device and turn on Bluetooth. For a certain subset of your attendee base this may be a challenge to get them to turn on extra services.
2. Finding the perfect balance of just enough messaging before it becomes just background noise. Mobile app designers are ever vigilant of this fine line in regards to app advertisements and push notifications.
3. There needs to be a higher level of logic for who gets messages or file transfers; when they get sent; how many times they get sent; how often pre-program messages get sent; and who will receive the file transfer.

How to leverage Beacon technology for your next event

Beacon technology can enhance your event and increase engagement among your audience. But to gain momentum in the marketplace it will require attendees and meeting professionals, alike, to raise their comfort level. They will need to be open to exploring the outside-the-box possibilities it offers. The challenges listed above can be minimized or eradicated all-together by proper messaging along with using reputable technology suppliers. A more targeted knowledgeable approach produces far greater return and provides a quantitative method to track the ROI of your investment. Hiring a marketing consultant who is versed in one-to-one event marketing strategies will produce greater returns and higher conversion rates. They can use their knowledge and experience to ensure Beacon technology is right for your event and will produce the results you are looking to achieve.

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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

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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

Global_Giveback_Image

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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