Archive for Event Marketing & Communications

What You Need to Know About Apple’s App Rule

Apple App Store Container Rule

Written by Tim LaFleur | Director, Event Technology

If you have used a branded mobile app for your event, or are considering one for a future program, you have most likely heard about the new Apple App Store container rule that is shaking up the industry. More and more of our clients are incorporating mobile apps for a richer and more engaging experience for their attendees. So, understandably, they have asked us what this means and what can they expect? The simple answer – it depends. But, let’s break it down.

What does the rule say?
In June, at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, they announced changes to their App Review Guidelines. Of specific interest was Section 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”

What does the new policy mean?
There continues to be debate as each app company has their own take based on their reading of the rule and/or subsequent conversations with Apple. On the face, it appears providers will no longer be able to submit “one off” single branded event apps into the App Store. While this rule is broad and far reaching it in part touches all app development companies in some way.

As it pertains to our industry, it is widely believed this was put into place to clean up the App Store from many outdated or orphaned apps in preparation for the launch of their new store and have more control (i.e. not unlike the Play Store “Cover Letter” policy from earlier this year). Conference app companies are responding in a variety of ways based on their understanding of the rule. Most of the thoughts swirling around fall into one of three buckets.

Thought 1:
The most common thinking is that event apps now publicly distributed in the App Store will have to go into a larger container app. And, it would need to be a container app branded by the development company versus the event host. This has led some to proclaim that the death of the white labeled single event app is at hand. Additionally, there are concerns over the loss of event branding and security since all apps are placed in one container. In response conference app companies are working hard to mitigate the security concern with shortcuts directly to your specific app inside the container. However, the loss of event branding remains a very real concern for event marketing professionals.

Thought 2:
Some app companies have interpreted this rule less about whether the app is created by a commercialized template or app generation service, and more about whose Apple License is being used. There is a thought that if the app is being published from the event host’s Apple Developer License it will be allowed as either a multi or single event branded app. Others, while they agree in theory, they do not see it as being as broad as this. They feel there are boundaries to this approach.

• App must be published from company or organization’s developer account
• Needs to be a container app and have at least five (5) events included
• May only have one (1) container per organization
• After a few are published, organization will start seeing rejections from Apple

Thought 3:
And, last thought is “our apps are customized and they all differ.” They believe there is enough customization and uniqueness so their apps to not be affected by this rule. However, I am unsure if this philosophy holds true. As I understand it, there will be three main checks Apple will do make sure an app is not coming from a commercialized template or app generation service.

So, what now?
The deadline for this rule to take effect was initially September 30, 2017. However, Apple extended the deadline to December 24, 2017. This is a very nuanced and evolving situation so I would encourage anyone who already has an agreement with an app company to engage with them regarding their interpretation and how they are handling it. Even if you have already spoken with your app company, you might want to re-engage regarding what might have changed since your first conversation to see what other options exist for distribution such as private distribution versus public distribution. Have a backup plan should they be wrong in their interpretation of the rule.

How we can help…
As a third-party event planning company who specializes in mobile design, we are in a unique position because we work with and have been in conversations with many different app providers. They all believe theirs is the perfect solution. Yet, no two companies have the same interpretation. Ultimately, the goal is to mitigate risk of app rejection by crafting a plan to cover several different scenarios. If you have questions, concerns, comments or just want to know how we believe this rule may affect your event, based on all of the differing philosophies and approaches, contact me directly at tlafleur@meetings-incentives.com.

 

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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Incentive Travel Trends and Journey Mapping

Incentive_Industry_Trends_Image2

Written by Tracy Norum, CMP, CIS | Director, Global Incentive Services

As 2017 sales incentive contests head into their final quarter and 2018 award trip planning starts to kick into high gear for a new and exciting season of winner incentive trips, it is a great time to get a sneak peek at M&IW’s leading incentive trends. I had the privilege of presenting on this topic at our recent Client Summit with Nicole Raudabaugh, CMP, CIS, Account Lead/Sr. Buyer, Global Incentive Services.

State of the Industry

To help us better understand the trends, let’s take a brief look at the state of the industry. Recent survey data illustrates how organizations have fully realized the role incentives play to engage their sales teams, employees and channel partners and their results in both bottom line and top-line growth. More than 84% of American companies use incentive programs. US firms alone invest more than $90 billion dollars annually in non-cash incentives such as incentive travel, merchandise and gift cards, according to IRF 2107 Trends Study & SITE Index 2017.

Journey Mapping

The stakes are higher and expectations greater. The incentive trip planner isn’t just planning an event, they are designing engaging experiences. And, not cookie-cutter, one size fits all – but rather experiences that match the energy flow of the group and the individual award winners. Personas and journey mapping is a hot new concept with incentive travel design.

The objective is to create a “Journey Map” based on personas as opposed to demographics. Identifying groups of people who share similar attitudes, behaviors and motivations and outline specific elements each day of the program based on the different personas’ appeal. For example, “Fit-to-Travel,” “All Things Social,” “Work B4 Play,” etc. Each persona values different elements so it critical to match the group activities and experiences with their journeys. Applying this principle to the travel incentive program design not only helps improve the attendee experience, but also the company’s bottom line.

An All Encompassing, Immersed Experience

As an industry, we are moving away from just providing “unique and WOW experiences” and moving toward total engagement. With the use of technologies from the mobile app experience to virtual reality, we can engage the qualifier before they even leave their doorstep. Experiential travel is now about fostering emotional attachment to the brand. Next-level experiences tap the true emotional engagement. Capturing the experiences from unique angles, such as drones or Go-Pro devices, provides lasting impressions long after the trip has concluded.

Destination 2018

The strength of the US dollar, has created a resurgence in international destinations. Tenerife/Canary Islands, southern France and less traveled areas of Italy are emerging as an exciting European alternative. Iceland, where the infrastructure is finally starting to catch up, is capturing the imagination of a true Icelandic expedition and discovery. Panama continues to grow in experiences and infrastructure.  Adventure hot spots are trending including Banff/Whistler, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and South Africa.

Giving Back is Not Going Away

Seventy percent of programs include a corporate social responsibility component and we expect that number to continue to grow. The industry has seen a definite uptick in the last three years and new types of experiences are popping up as a result. Tying a group activity or corporate team building to foster employee teamwork with the outcome of significantly stimulating income generation for people in a developing country is the top of the list. Attendees not only want to have a great experience themselves, but want to leave a destination knowing they made an impact in the community and world.

Health and Fitness

Health and fitness is becoming an increasing element of every program. Healthy meal options, allowing time for workouts, group activities that focus on wellness events, and gifting experiences that include athletic wearables, sneakers, yoga mats, on-site personalized athletic wear and classes are all the rage.

In summary, incentive travel programs still need to be life-affirming, jaw-dropping and create memories that connect to a bigger purpose. Being memorable and exclusive hasn’t changed. However, what is trending is how the incentive planner’s role involves creating “personalized” journeys that ignites the senses, recognizes stellar achievements, and inspires winners to work even harder to be part of your elite incentive trip year after year!

Want to learn more about journey mapping and the newest incentive industry trends as well as take away some trip ideas to implement into your 2018 program? Join our Global Incentives Services team in November for our Incentive Trends webinar where we will go into greater detail on this topic and much, much more!

 

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

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ROI of Event Sponsorship: Stakeholders vs. Sponsors

Event Sponsor

Written by Jill Pearson | Manager, Digital Marketing and Media

Sponsorship, by definition, is the financial or material support of an event, activity or organization by an unrelated partner. Sponsoring a relevant event is a great way to increase brand awareness and strengthen relationships. This, in turn, helps generate consumer preference and foster brand loyalty. A company can reinforce awareness among its target market by sponsoring an event that attracts a desired target market. A sponsorship can be a meaningful part of a brands success, but also material to an event’s success.

Sponsoring an event is no means an act of charity – they must show some form of positive return on investment (ROI) for both stakeholders and sponsors. With ROI in mind, we would like to explore two separate perspectives in the sponsorship journey: the event stakeholder and the sponsoring organization.

As we near M&IW Campus Week, our annual company event, we reflect on the role of our industry partners. From an event stakeholder viewpoint, sponsors are of the utmost importance as they not only help to generate revenue for the event itself, but also offset costs for items that will enhance the overall attendee experience. For example, because of our platinum sponsors, we are including live meeting analytics from Educational Measures, over-the-top decor and style concepts from Kehoe Designs, professional event production from DMP and collaborative team building sessions from Banding People Together.

While sponsor and exhibitor relationships are key to these types of events, they can also be tricky to manage. To be successful, it is crucial to understand what matters most to the sponsoring organization. Do they prefer promotional opportunities leading up to the event, brand visibility on the registration site, advertising on a mobile app, relationship building with key contacts, ability to present at the event or sit on an industry panel, and of course, being able to connect with attendees post event.

You want to ensure they receive a solid return from their both investment and participation so that they continue to sign on year after year. And, it is also important to make sure that the sponsors and exhibitors selected are a good fit for the audience. Otherwise, the attendees will feel like the event was “sold” without consideration of their interests and time sport-life. Because we provide hotel sourcing and contracting services for our clients, hotels and resorts are a perfect fit. In fact, we have three platinum sponsors in this category: Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Rosewood.

Likewise, sponsoring organizations need to know that the audience is a fit for them. “To be successful, our employees need to be knowledgeable about new products, event-related services, hot destinations and more says Lindsay Perez, Assistant Manager, Program Management for Global Operations. She explains that “event sponsors and exhibitors gain valuable face time with those who have their ‘boots on the ground’ so to speak. They benefit from a rare opportunity to get in front of the individuals that use their services. Or, from a more general standpoint, individuals who may have key input, make recommendations to our clients or are involved in the decision-making process. It’s an overall win for the attendees and the sponsors, alike.”

A lot of organizations, including ours, use a tiered system to help differentiate the level of exposure or marketing that an organization will receive based on their support. This helps the hosting organization to keep the playing field level and manage expectations of the sponsoring and exhibiting companies.

“While it’s beneficial to participate as an exhibitor in the Supplier Showcase to network and make personal introductions, being a sponsor brings this educational value to the next level. It gives the organization an opportunity to be front and center of all M&IW employees and a chance to highlight the value they can offer to us, as a company, and to our clients,” explained Vicki Schmitz, HMCC, Senior Manager of Hotel Procurement. This is especially true for companies that have just started working with M&IW, a sponsorship can help them foster relationships and generate business opportunities faster.

We also have industry partners like Marriott International that have participated for several years. So, we asked Elizabeth Moynihan. CMP, Global Account Executive, her thoughts on the criteria her team uses when deciding to become a sponsor? Elizabeth responded, “Marriott values our long-term global partnership with M&IW. As strategic partners, we understand the importance and mutual benefit of sponsoring Campus Week. We take many components into consideration when determining our level of support. The opportunity for our hotel partners and GSO to engage face-to-face, and further cultivate and strengthen relationships is invaluable. We enjoy participating in Campus Week annually, and appreciate the opportunity to be a platinum sponsor.”

Our M&IW Campus Week taking place August 21-24, 2017 which includes our Client Summit and Supplier Showcase is the one time of year we bring together in one place our talented associates, valued clients, and industry partners. If you are interested in learning more about sponsor opportunities still available, please email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com and we will send you the prospectus.

 

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Dissecting Effective Event Design

By Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

When the novice planner is asked about the purpose of event design the answer is typically to make the room look good and create a pleasant environment. A fine answer, but is that really all there is to effective event design?

“Not at all, event design should be all encompassing and have purpose which is generally to create an environment that conveys the message and the theme of the event while staying true to the program’s overall objectives. Whether the event is a celebration, awards ceremony, meal function, workshop or general session there is always a message that needs to be conveyed. The audience does not solely listen with their ears, but they also ‘listen’ with their sight, their sense of smell, their touch, and sometimes even their sense of taste. Successful event design encompasses all the senses to produce an environment that clearly conveys the message of the program and achieves the goals. It is about engagement not simply making the room look good,” explains Alexander deHilster, Senior Event Designer with Meetings & Incentives Worldwide.

At M&IW, Alexander and his team work collaboratively with our clients and event design partners to do exactly that. In the true collective spirit of M&IW, we asked one of our long-term event design partners to provide some additional insight on effective event design.

Timot McGonagle, Senior Event Designer of Kehoe Designs, reiterated Alexander’s point with the following thoughts and tips:

The Benefits of Effective Event Design:

1. Creates an emotional attachment that produces a more permanent and lasting impression on the guests ultimately creating greater return on experience for the guests.
2. Allows the guest to feel physically part of the event while it is happening evoking the important emotional connection with every event.
3. Increases learning and aids with retention since all the attendees’ senses are engaged they can hold attention longer resulting in increased retention overall.
4. Clearly conveys the message of the event and leaves no room for interpretation.

When asked about how to attack effect event design, Timot gave the following response. “Current trends lean toward an immersive experience. Boundaries between individual event disciplines are very blurry. For instance, we see more and more that audio visual, décor, food & beverage all play a role in event design. A screen is no longer solely used to communicate content, but can be a visual work of art or message board for the program’s objectives. True event design is working in a cohesive manner and blending all facets of the event to reach the objective.”

Alexander and Timot also both agree that it is best to be in close contact with the client to discover goals and request all materials on event from graphic support, theme, messaging, and anything else that can inspire the design. Ultimately the design reflects the nuances of the message.

Do’s and Don’ts from our Senior Event Designers include:

1. Do conduct a site visit before designing. Each project has its own energy as does every space. Immersed in the actual venue helps to bring out the creative vision.
2. Do make every detail count! Find a few details and layer them for a more cohesive event.
3. Do Utilize elements that will play to all the senses.
4. Do hire professionals to get the most value out of your investment.
5. Don’t make event design an afterthought. Bring all the team players together early in the process.
6. Don’t forget to discuss budget up front. There are many ways to approach event design. And, budget often determines the right path to start.

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

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The Benefits of Marketing Videos

Written by Jill Pearson | Manager, Digital Marketing & Media

Video marketing techniques are flooding today’s social media outlets, websites and direct marketing campaigns. Almost any type of business or event would benefit from the production of a short video to introduce their products or services. It is no secret that video content increases conversion rates in sales. In fact, consumers are 64% to 85% more likely to purchase a product or service that has video representation according to a study by web analytics gurus at KissMetrics.

For our customers, video promotions provide a clearer understanding of the benefits of a service or event. We have discovered that when a video is used in our marketing communications, the click-through rate (CTR) is four times greater than all other links embedded in the email. Additionally, videos on social sites are liked and shared ten times more which leads to higher read rates and website traffic.

Because it is an ever-increasing and popular medium, we’ve also found it highly effective to use videos to present a destination, resort or other elements of an incentive promotion to our clients. It allows our clients to immerse themselves in the destination and incentive trip experience. The same is true when announcing the details of a trip to potential winners. It creates excitement and can catapult production to the next level. Another technique is to share a “happy face” video from the previous year showing actual winners and how much fun they had during the trip. It serves as a great reminder for the winners and creates a level of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Likewise, it is a great teaser for those trying to earn the upcoming trip for the first time.

An incentive campaign’s success is dependent on our ability to creatively entice participants to engage, perform, and win. Recently, our Creative Services and Digital Marketing team joined forces with an Account Lead within Global Enterprise Solutions to create a video for a sales incentive that we won over an industry competitor. For this company, incentives aren’t a new concept and there are several repeat winners. To combat the perception that this is a “been there, done that” trip, we proposed a unique, new destination trending within the incentive space. Puglia is a region in Italy’s boot that is mostly unexplored by corporate incentives. So, the messaging challenge of the video was to take an unknown destination and create the fascination of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Daniel Filar, Account Lead, reinforces the objective by stating, “the goal was to lure the sales team into the lavish Italian lifestyle found in Puglia – accommodations at a 5-diamond resort, fine-dining experiences, touring historic villages and experiencing unique activities. We decided to produce a customized video to capture the region’s most breath-taking vistas and offerings. Without the supporting imagery to bring the experience to life, we would have fallen short on our ability to tell the story and sell the destination.” The client shared with us that he believed this was going to be one of the best incentive trips yet and early indicators showed his sales team was driving hard toward their targets. To see if you agree, view the video above.

Another way organizations are incorporating video is to announce and promote a corporate social responsibility component that is tied into the incentive trip. “Last spring, one of my clients had a program in Cabo San Lucas. During the planning process, he learned the Light in my Life Orphanage in San Jose Los Cabos was severely damaged by Hurricane Odile in 2014 and saw an opportunity to help. To generate awareness for the CSR activity, a touching video was created and shared with the winners prior to the trip. It turned about to be a wonderful and beneficial experience for all,” said Katie Wiesner, Sr. Program Manager, CIS.

While techniques used for promotions are constantly evolving, consumer behavior still suggests that purchases are made and participation is enhanced when personal connection have been established. Videos bring that association to a consumer mind and allows for greater trust and excitement to the featured topic.

With the enhancement of easy-to-use video production technologies, captivating high resolutions photos, short destination clips and creative scripting – destination videos such as the Puglia one featured are less expensive to create than you might think and an excellent promotional tool for your next event.

 

 

 

Posted in: Company News, Event Marketing & Communications, Incentive Travel Programs

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Two-in-a-Box Co-CEO Leadership Model

M&IW_TinaJean_NAMID2 3x4Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director, Marketing & Strategy

This year marks our golden anniversary. On September 26, 1967, a family dream to build a business within the travel industry became a reality. It started small with the hard work, dedication, integrity, and commitment of the Neider family. Fifty years and three generations later, we have successfully grown, changed, innovated and expanded, but made sure to never lose sight of what’s most important – our people and our customers.

As we position M&IW for the future, we saw an opportunity to better align our chief officer roles. “Sometimes referred to as two-in-the-box, the unusual structure can provide increased scope and broader capacity,” Joseph L. Bower, a management professor at Harvard Business School, told Business Insider. Jean Johnson, CMP, Co-CEO and Chief People Officer, and Tina Madden, CPA, Co-CEO and Chief Customer Officer, are true partners in the operational excellence and strategic vision of M&IW. While most companies adhere to more traditional C-level roles, this structure allows Tina and Jean to better complement each other’s strengths and maintain a balanced line of sight for the organization.

In the past five years, through organic growth our organization doubled the number of employees who joined our M&IW family. In 2013, as part of our global expansion, we opened in the UK and changed our company name to Meetings & Incentives Worldwide. In 2014, we made the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing, privately-held companies in America. However, not everything changed. We have been able to maintain a flatter organizational structure with a 60% virtual workforce model that enables us to be more agile, keep the lines of communication open, and increase collaboration with our employees, customers and suppliers.

Within Jean’s role as Co-CEO and Chief People Officer, she will oversee Global Operations, Talent Engagement and Information Services & Security. Whereas, Tina as Co-CEO and Chief Customer Officer, will be responsible for Sales & Marketing, Global Enterprise Solutions and Finance. Within these departments, we have functional areas or “Circles of Excellence” with individuals grouped by roles and responsibilities, not necessarily titles. We feel it allows for distributed decision making while giving everyone the opportunity to work on what they do best and serve our customers.

Jean and Tina are true leaders! They have been recognized as trailblazers and women pioneers for their contributions to the meetings and events industry. We are very excited for their expanded roles as Co-CEOs and what the future will bring to Meetings & Incentives Worldwide under their direction.

 

Posted in: Company News, Event Marketing & Communications

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A Peek at 50 Years of M&IW

50 Year Anniversary for Meetings & Incentives Worldwide

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

To kick off the monumental milestone of M&IW’s 50th anniversary year, we thought where better to start than with our amazing and talented team of associates who have made us what we are today! So, we took to the streets (and by streets, we mean email) and asked our seasoned employees, the longest who has been with us just shy of 20 years, what it means to celebrate M&IW’s past? But we didn’t stop there. We also reached out to some of our newest associates regarding what it means for them to inspire M&IW’s future.

When you set off on an exercise such as this, you never know what you are going to learn and uncover. In this case, there were a few themes that became prevalent. First and foremost, was FAMILY. Every employee who reflected on M&IW’s past mentioned the word family. As a 3rd generation company that started 50 years ago and remains privately-owned and operated today, we are a family business. However, what rang out loud and clear is our employees sentiments and feelings for their M&IW family. This concept of family and inclusion is very important and reinforced through our core drivers, especially when it comes to maintaining our culture. “M&IW is a family, one that cares and always has each other’s back. We have empathy for one another. We lend a helping hand instead of pointing fingers. We are authentic, humble, and passionate about our company and our industry. We work hard while having fun.”

Another theme was the rate of GROWTH and EVOLUTION of M&IW over the decades. Our tenured folks reflected on our small and mighty team before the advent of technology. What we lacked in size in the early days, we certainly made up for in service. It always was and continues to be about dedication, integrity and an unwavering commitment to our customers. Our newer employees talked about how impressed they are with our FLEXIBLE and INNOVATIVE MINDSET. They believe they are able to perform at their best and see a bright future with M&IW.

We invite you to join us for our yearlong celebration! And to begin, it is an honor for us to open our doors so you can hear from our employees firsthand what it means for them to celebrate our past and inspire our future. We’d love for you to join in the conversation, visit us on Facebook, Twitter #M&IWis50 or email your thoughts to marketing@meetings-incentives.com.

Celebrate our Past

“Being part of the family here at M&IW for almost 20 years, it is with huge admiration that I look at how we have grown and continued to serve our clients to the same extreme level. Over these years, our leadership has kept focus on “their” core values. They show us every day, that passion and flexibility is what makes us great at what we do, for both our customer and employees. One of the many, many proud moments I have felt was when we opened our office overseas and filled those roles with talented individuals who still had the ‘Midwest’ hospitality in their blood.” – Shauna, Global Account Director

“When I think of the past I can’t help but be sentimental. When I first started working at M&IW, my daughters ages were 2 ½ and 5 years old. They’re now 17 & 20. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to work full-time as I had to leave early every day to drop off and pick up my daughter from Kindergarten. I’ll always be grateful for the way M&IW put family first – theirs and ours. That is the reason among many others for my longevity with M&IW. The company has evolved from having all staff meetings on the landing at the office to now having “Campus Week” that brings together employees for 3 days of offsite for training, collaboration and having fun with colleagues. I think it’s amazing and special that M&IW is truly a family business that still focuses on all our employees’ well-being. I am thankful for 15 years of warmth, friendship and support and proud to be celebrating M&IW’s 50th Anniversary.” – Susan, Sr. Coordinator, Group Travel

“Since starting here at M&IW in January 2000, I have had so many memories both personal and professional. I remember my first day here as a Data Service Agent, over at the old building, not having a desk “quite yet” and remembering that “Y2K” really wasn’t going to freak out the computer systems with the change to “2000”. We were a much smaller group then, about 40 or so employees. You certainly got to know everyone and worked in a family atmosphere with a building that looked like a house. It was then I knew I’d be here a while. It’s amazing to me as being the longest standing (and probably oldest) Coordinator in M&IW history that I have seen this evolution not only in one department, but company-wide. To see us grow and become paperless, virtual, more efficient, handle many more clients and be just smarter all around is what really makes me proud. I am so blessed to be a part of the M&IW family and working for Jean and Tina. They have supported my decision to remain a Coordinator while I raise my kids; to go from full-time to part-time back to full-time again; and even gave me their blessing to take a year off to care for my 18-month old daughter. I have counted my blessings every day for the past 17 years and hope that I have done as much good for them and the company as they have done for me.” – Beth, Meeting & Tradeshow Specialist, Attendee Registration

“It has been great to work for a company that started small and have been able to watch it grow to more than 250 associates today. The technology has changed so much!!! We went from sending paper tickets and itineraries to each attendee to nearly EVERYTHING being sent electronically. Huge time and money saver for both M&IW and clients. This company is a “family” and I am glad to be a part of it. I wish for another 50 years of success and growth!” – Jodi, Express Travel Manager, Global Travel

“There have been so many changes since I began at M&IW in June of 1998. I love the fact that when I started, right away I could feel that it was a fun and family atmosphere. I think celebrating the past is to remember where it all began. It’s nice having memories, such as the days before email where we pretty much did everything by fax and phone calls even receiving hundreds of registration forms that were handwritten on paper by the attendees. Almost half my life has been with M&IW. I got married and had my daughter, moved out of the area and all the while receiving great support from the M&IW family. I think M&IW really started to soar when Jean and Tina took over the reins and became a woman-owned company. They definitely had a vision!” – Denise, Express Travel Manager, Global Travel

“It’s been crazy to see the company grow and all of the new employees and business that we’ve taken on since 1999. I remember when the entire company was in one building, then expanded to both buildings on campus, then the Lincolnshire office, to virtual remote offices, and now all over the world. It’s surreal that I’ve been here that long to be able to have seen it all take place. The best was meeting my wife and being able to start a family together; but, also that I’ve made lifelong friends at M&IW. M&IW says it’s a family company and it really is – we been through tough times, great times, and just the everyday ins and outs – we are all family here. And, that is the best part of being at M&IW.”- Nick, Manager, Accounts Receivable & Payable

“There are 19 years of memories to reflect on which makes it tough to pick just one or two! I started here when it was just M&I (no W yet) and in the one building with maybe 25-30 employees in the whole company. What simply amazes me is that M&I was started 50 years ago with family and it continues to treat all of the employees as part of that family.” – Joan, Sr. Coordinator, Group Travel

Inspire our future

“As a new addition to the M&IW family, I must say this organization is a dream come true! I appreciate the fact that each person has their own unique skills and we all play a vital role in making each meeting or event, a memorable and special moment for all who attend. Needless to say, I am excited to continue on this adventure with my new family.” – Amanda, Registration Project Manager

“It is a rarity to be part of a company that has so much positive energy within its employees from upper management and throughout its workforce forming a cohesive bond for the greater good of those in the company who strive for excellence and the overall maintenance of our business. In only my first few months, I am excited about the potential of showcasing our talents, leadership skills and vast knowledge and resources to our clients, vendor partners and future business so that they can see and utilize new opportunities. I am intrigued with the possibilities and growth potential that there may be for my career at M&IW to learn, develop new skills and add value by helping to retain and grow our business.” – Eric, Sr. Program Manager

“It is so exciting to be a part of an organization with such rapid growth. Since I have been here, I have found that M&IW is very client focused and is willing to adapt however necessary to meet the needs of their clients. I believe being flexible and open to change is very important within an organization as this really allows everyone to be the best and clients can see this. When organizations host meetings, it is sometimes the only time that all employees are together. I believe when you get people together it gives the organization a chance to really innovate and grow. Being a part of this process for other companies is very exciting!” – Becky, Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“I hope to inspire M&IW’s future by growing and enhancing the incentive side of the business. I’m impressed by the processes that are in place and the onboarding has been first class. It really shows the company’s dedication to its employees and I’m excited to be a part of this great company.” – Jennifer, Incentive Marketing and Communications Specialist

“It’s a great feeling knowing that I can help inspire M&IW’s future. I’ve already seen the result of things that I’ve worked on come to fruition so it’s exciting to see my recommendations become implemented. I love how M&IW is truly a team atmosphere, everyone works together for a common goal and helps one another achieve success in whatever they do.” – Neema, Sr. Buyer, Incentive Services

“Putting people first and enabling others to be successful is inspiring to me. As I was considering M&IW for the next step in my career, I was told over and over how M&IW puts people first – clients, partners, suppliers, employees. In today’s day and age, so many companies promote they put people first, but few follow through. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop – for the harsh reality of the business world and self-preservation to take over – but I haven’t seen a crack in M&IW’s commitment to put people first. It’s easy to see that putting people first isn’t new to M&IW, it’s a culture that took root in the past and is the foundation of the future.” – Andi, Strategic Account Manager

“When I think of my career at M&IW, I think of a journey filled with constant innovation, and surrounded by great leadership and co-workers that feel like family. It’s exactly what motivated me to choose this company and I am so happy I did! It is incredibly empowering to work for an organization that focuses equally on their customers and the development of their employees. For me personally, inspiring M&IW’s future means that I will have the opportunity to be part of these revolutionary efforts through collaboration, teamwork, technology, and education. – Tamara, Coordinator, Attendee Registration

Posted in: Company News, Event Marketing & Communications

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Connecting a Virtual Workforce with Cyber Learning

 

 

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Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director, Marketing & Strategy

We believe live meetings and events transform organizations. We know what happens when companies transform, when they look beyond what they already know. Our purpose is reinforced through our three “C’s” – Customer Obsession, Collaboration and Culture. We also believe our employees should experience a positive personal transformation during their career.

“Based on the growth of M&IW in the past five years, we recognized a need to provide broad based learning on a multitude of topics to increase employee satisfaction and ensure retention. So, we added a fourth core driver – Cross-Platform Cyber Learning. This means challenging and connecting our global virtual workforce to learn and develop through the benefits of consistent educational content and delivery to ensure engagement, career growth, retention and to reward achievements,” said Jean Johnson, CMP, Co-CEO and Chief People Officer.

“What exactly is cyber learning?”

It’s a good question with a broad answer. Cyber learning draws on a wide array of technologies, applications, and learning theories to create experiences that improve, foster, and assess learning. To support our new initiative, we have implemented a learning management system – microlearning.

“How is microlearning different than cyber learning?”

Microlearning is a technique of delivering learning content in short, bite-sized bursts (from three to five minutes), several times per week, or even daily. Neuroscientists have determined that we can only absorb four to five pieces of information into short-term memory at any given time, so by breaking it into short chunks, it’s easier to understand and assimilate.

“Why is it beneficial to organizations?”

After an extensive vetting and selection process, we determined Grovo was the best solution for M&IW. The Grovo platform was launched on February 6 and since then our employees have viewed more than 3,000 microlearning videos! “We are already getting a great return on our investment and could not be more excited with the knowledge and consistency in learning it has provided,” said Connie Nau, CMP, CRP, Sr. Director of Talent Engagement.

You might be asking, if M&IW is in the business of live meetings and events, why cross-platform cyber learning? It is a tool as virtual and flexible as we are, it can enhance our new hire on boarding process, provide ongoing “upskill” opportunities, leadership training, career development and personal growth. Our team members don’t work a traditional 9 to 5 weekday schedule and they travel across the globe with our client programs. Grovo is self-paced, on-demand, and ensures compliance. It is not a replacement for face-to-face meetings nor does it diminish the power of human connections. In fact, it makes those interactions and live experiences that much more meaningful.

“When does personal transformation happen?”

Personal transformation is an ongoing process. It requires a systematic approach. A caterpillar does not become a butterfly by accident. Such a major transformation happens over time and involves a series of essential steps. Regardless of what we want to change, a true personal transformation always begins on the inside.

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

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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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Seven Success Tips for Celebrating Milestones

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Written By Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

From the time we are born to this present moment, milestones are a part of our DNA. Beginning with our very first birthday to a long awaited 50th wedding anniversary and all the significant dates in between, historical markers not only provide us with a sense of accomplishment but also showcase great accomplishments.

Companies are no different. The pride of that first year in business, a new location, hitting a significant sales goal, and then before you know it, a milestone anniversary – these are all a BIG deal! And, for good reason. It is reported that less than half of all new business ventures survive their first 5 years. So, celebrating the “early years” as well as the milestone anniversaries create the perfect opportunity to reflect on amazing achievements and reaffirm a commitment to the future.

With proper strategy and planning, corporate anniversaries can be a catalyst for an organization to launch forward while celebrating the past and honoring the present. These are perfect opportunities to increase brand awareness; refine your mission and culture; celebrate employees, clients and partners; launch new business initiatives; contribute greatly to causes; and of course, have some fun.

So, where to begin? At M&IW, we have had to ask ourselves this very question because this year is a big milestone one! Our 3rd generation, family-owned business will be celebrating 50 years in business. Proper planning for a milestone campaign and event takes time. At M&IW, we have been strategizing and planning for a while. In fact, the theme of our annual company event in 2016 was “Go the Distance” and a lead up to this momentous year in our history.

Here are the seven things to consider to get your milestone celebrations and campaigns kick-started:

1. Create a campaign for the entire milestone year. This will allow you to capitalize on a full year of celebrating your company’s success with the people who helped you get there.

2. Set milestone campaign and celebration goals. Take time to draft how you plan to leverage the milestone and how that relates back to your organizational goals.

3. Brand it. Create a commemorative logo for the anniversary. When employees, clients and partners see the new, fresh twist on your branding, they will know it is a big deal from the start.

4. Host an event. Whether it is at an existing annual meeting or a stand-alone event, make sure to celebrate together! As meeting professionals, we understand the power of human connections and the energy that is generated when people come together.

5. Honor the past. You are celebrating for a reason. There have been challenges as well as opportunities that have helped you along the journey. Make sure you honor them.

6. Stay in the moment. It is too easy to look at the past, skip through the present, and move onto the future. Take a moment to relish the here and now, for this is where inspiration grows.

7. Plan for your future and the next 25, 50, 100 years! What big goals have you set and how will you leverage your current accomplishments, talent, products and service offerings to get there!

Whether it is an annual corporate event, a milestone anniversary, or a significant accomplishment — there is always good reason to celebrate. We are very excited to unveil what we have in store for all of you and our milestone year! Stay tuned.

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