Archive for Conferences & Tradeshows

Beyond Features: A More Comprehensive Look at Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps Events

Written by Tim LaFleur, CMP | Director, Mobile Solutions & Strategy

At M&IW, we are extremely proud of the fact that we have consistently been a top consultant provider when it comes to making the most out of your meeting and event application. When I took on the role of Director of Mobile Solutions & Strategy to lead M&IW’s initiative, I knew we would need to go beyond the basic app features, utilize our comprehensive understanding of event operations, and dive deep into clients specific needs to create a service that has since become best practice in the industry.

Our process is to look beyond the feature and to not take it at face value. We evaluate the various app sections as buckets of functionality independent from their face value functionality (i.e. speakers, schedule, sponsors, etc.). Thinking about a section in terms of the functions that a module holds, opens a world of possibilities to create something special for the client.

The best app consultancy services think in terms of a three-pronged stool and if one of the legs falls short, the stool is bound to be off balance and fall apart. Each leg is represented by an area of competency including utilizing a superior app technology platform where the functionality contained within each module is dynamic; the understanding of events and how various event aspects may depend or seamlessly flow into one another; and a keen awareness of our client’s specific needs and overall event objectives. Being uniquely positioned to understand all three components of the three-pronged stool, allows the users to take full advantage of the application’s platform and intended purpose. Taking time to vet and ask many questions about the platforms will allow for a level understanding similar to that of the technology provider themselves. Combined with a unique perspective on apps and knowledge of how the meetings and events flow, allows for a unique vantage point to craft the apps for a client. In the end, we have not simply filled in the individual features, but a technology solution that solves the mobile needs of a conference has been developed.

To illustrate a best-practice approach consider the following:

Social Features and Social Walls. Consider this feature question, “Does the attendee’s post go to social media with a specific hashtag and then pulled back down by the social wall to display on a screen or does the social wall bring attendees posts over without having to go out into social media?” The first scenario may pose confidentiality and security concerns. Additionally, does the social wall display pictures and text together as it was submitted on the feed or does it separate out various post elements. Based on how these questions are answered determines how the specific feature can be utilized and if the technology is a fit for the specific event.

If we simply check the box stating the app supports social wall and do not ask how, we are short-changing the potential use or functionality. Perhaps an event organizer wanted a social wall, but there were privacy concerns and it was assumed that the posts flowed through social media without understanding the functionality of the feature and because of that basic assumption the feature was not utilized. Where in reality the feature could have been utilized while maintaining privacy if the execution of feature was discovered and right platform selected.

Interactive Floor Plan. If the floor plan features utilize heat mapping or pin dropping to outline the location of a room this leads to other questions that affect the attendee experience with this feature. For example, will heat mapping adequately map a room that is not a standard square or rectangle? If there is a ballroom that is used in the morning for general session, but then breakouts later in the day, how does the heat mapped area handle that layering or is there the need to create multiple maps to illustrate?

When considering a pin system think about the following. An attendee is looking at the maps, can they tell which pin is which and distinguish between ones that are clustered together? This is similar to the pin drop conundrum in a geolocation map section as well as a floor plan section. Does the technology provider have the ability to filter out by type, view in list or search by a particular name? The answers to all the questions, regardless of if it is macro or micro function to the app, affect the way it operates, the attendee experience and the way that we consult with our clients. In short, there is no question too trivial since the answer can have a profound effect on event design and the attendee experience. Knowing the right questions to ask is developed over time and with experience.

Next time you are tasked with implementing a mobile app for your program, consider the following:

  • Does the app provider I am partnering with provide dynamic feature functionality and what elements flow together and interact?
  • Does this technology solve the three main “must haves” identified in this article that drive our event design and attendee experience?
  • Do I feel comfortable with the app, because if not, chances are my attendees won’t either?
  • Do I understand and are we utilizing the features to their full functionality to address our event technology needs or are we simply taking the features at face value?

These four simple questions will open a world of opportunities for better communication efficiency, a more engaged audience, and greater return on your next program.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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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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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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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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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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WiFi 101: Have Enough Bandwidth for your Event?

Technology WiFi Bandwidth

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

Next week, our very own Tim LaFleur, is presenting at MPI-WEC on the very engaging topic of WiFi and what planners need to know to really understand it and tips on how to negotiate it with venues, hotel partners, and suppliers. Speaking with Tim about WiFi is seriously as exciting as it would be to talk to Steve Jobs about the iPhone. As Director of Mobile Strategy, Tim lives, breathes, eats and sleeps technology, and lucky for us, he is always willing to share his vast knowledge on the topic with our audience. Here are a few things Tim and I discussed.

Some of the key points he made are…

Personal experience with WiFi doesn’t always translate into WiFi experience at events.

WiFi is all around us in our daily lives. The majority of us have personal networks at home and are very used to going into the nearest coffee shop, restaurant and sometimes even outdoor park to pick up a free and reliable WiFi network. Mobility has blurred the line between personal and professional environments, so it is easy to understand why it is a common misconception that the WiFi at a meeting or event is easily accessible, ready-to-use, fast, and even free.

What used to ruin a meeting quicker than anything else is bad food. Now it is bad food and bad WiFi.

Free isn’t always free.

If the WiFi doesn’t provide enough bandwidth, network strength or throughput to support the participants, the meeting or event experience is in serious jeopardy. The cost of free WiFi can be an expensive opportunity cost.

But we have enough bandwidth, right?

Bandwidth is such a commonly used termed, even to typically describe one’s ability to complete their workload, that the question begs to be asked, ‘do we really understand what bandwidth is?’ Upload speeds, download speeds; sure we get the basic concept. A planner doesn’t need to know everything about how a network works. However, they do need to understand enough of the terms and technology to have an intelligent conversation to know what they are getting. A good WiFi experience isn’t simply about bandwidth. It is also about network strength, throughput, latency, bandwidth and how it is partitioned. All too often, a planner who is speaking with a venue technician doesn’t have a full understanding of what they are receiving and the venue technician doesn’t necessarily understand the dynamics of the meeting needs. It is critical for the success of the event that we continue to close this gap or our programs may suffer as a result from slowed networks and a lack of connectivity.

Bandwidth, throughput, partitioning – please explain.

The simplest way to explain bandwidth is to relate it to the size of a water hose. There is only so much water that can fit through the limited size of the hose. When the water that comes through the hose is sectioned off and allocated toward people that is the same thing as using some of the bandwidth of the network.

Throughput, on the other hand, is how much data can actually transmit through an access point or the hardware that transmits the internet signal.Throughput is limited by how many people can connect to a certain access point.Typically, each access point allows for 75-100 connections at a time. If too many devices are trying to connect to the same access point, users can experience a DOS (denial of service) and not be allowed into the network.

We have all experienced a slow network or the inability to access the WiFi when the person sitting next to us is not experiencing any issues.This is a result of a common occurrence when the network hasn’t been designed properly to allow for enough bandwidth or throughput or is just experiencing a high volume of traffic or is noisy due to old or outdated hardware.

It is also important to note that mobile devices don’t ever really go idle when WiFi is enabled. There are always apps running in the background that are utilizing the bandwidth and connecting to an access point.So if you have a room of 1000 people connected to a couple access points and transmitting a little bit of data, it can take up significant bandwidth and throughput.

Finally, partitioning is also a key term and idea to understand. A facility may give you an overall figure for the total bandwidth. However, asking how the bandwidth is partitioned between meeting space, hotel staff and guest rooms, for instance, is extremely important to understand to be able to design a network to support the event needs. Additionally, it is important to recognize if the partition is flexible and if it can be changed to be able to allocate additional bandwidth to specific areas.

Plan and design your event network just as you would design your food & beverage needs.

The biggest mistake planners make is to simply base the needs of the network off the number of attendees.In-depth conversations regarding the program needs are imperative to the success of the network. Are we talking about basic internet surfing, downloading, polling, and/or streaming? What types of apps will be used? Where will users be located (all in one room in separate spaces)? These are all key questions to consider and to discuss with the facility or supplier partner to ensure the network is designed to meet the event’s needs. Just as a planner wouldn’t simply tell the CSM that they need food for 500 people without explaining how many at each meal function and any special food sensitivities nor should a planner skip over such important details of the WiFi needs.

Breaking down the cost of WiFi

The conversation regarding the cost and WiFi services provided needs to begin during the RFP, sourcing, and contracting process.There are two basic methods for the pricing of WiFi. It is typically either the total amount of bandwidth allocated across unlimited users or based on the total number of concurrent connections.There are pros and cons to each method, however the number of connections tends to be easier to plan around. Having these conversations up-front will go a long way to keeping costs under control while providing planners with the appropriate network needs.

People tend to look at internet and events in two ways, either a cost of doing business or a profit center. Planners tend to think that it should be a cost of doing business and properties tend to think it should be a profit center and this is where negotiating becomes important. All conversations around the network should be addressed at the time of contract signing.

A final note

WiFi is now the fourth utility. There is power, water, heat/AC and now you have WiFi. Planners wouldn’t put on an event without the other three critical utilities so don’t skip out on the fourth one.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Welcome to our New Blog — M&IW Industry Insights!!

Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director of Marketing and Strategic Development

We are thrilled to introduce you to our new blog — M&IW Industry Insights. This is the place where we’ll share our thoughts on ideas that will shape your business and disrupt the industry. Look forward to fresh, timely, and relevant content on our latest news, happenings, activities, and emerging trends from M&IW thought leaders.

At M&IW, we bring people together for successful outcomes. But more importantly, we believe live meetings and events transform organizations. We also know success is best achieved in true collaboration with our valued clients, talented associates and industry partners. As part of that philosophy, we are creating more opportunities for you to interact with us. Stay tuned for upcoming events, free webinars, and valuable resources.

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

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