Archive for Program Management & Event Design

Creative Ways to Meet with Sustainability and Green in Mind

Written by Allison Rocca, CMP | Program Manager

The Events Industry Council defines event sustainability as “taking action towards preserving our natural environment; promoting a healthy, inclusive society; and supporting a thriving economy.” We continue to hear buzzwords like “green” and “sustainable.” The best news? This is anything but a trend! We are beginning to see change and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Small tweaks during the planning stage and on-site execution at meetings can make a huge impact.

Considering the below statistics, meeting planners and hoteliers have the power to make going green the norm for every event—big or small, domestic or international, champagne or beer budget. How? Well, this industry is full of creative minds, powerful voices and people who welcome change. And, there is no sign of us slowing down.

  • There are 190,000 hotels globally, representing more than 17.5 million guest rooms (data hotel provider, STR.)
  • In 2018, the Events Industry Council’s Meeting Significance Survey revealed that the meetings industry generates $330 billion annually in the USA, a $50 billion increase from 2014.
  • $54 billion: amount meeting planners spend on food and beverage each year, yet $22 billion is wasted. That’s 41%; a lot of food that could have gone to good use.

Here are some creative tips and tricks on ways to plan events with green in mind.

Plastic is old news. There is no need for any single-use plastic on buffets.

  • Water bottles = replace with still and fruit infused water stations with reusable glasses.
  • Straws = replace with wood stir sticks for coffee and cocktails.
  • If hosting an outdoor event, it is essential to ask the venue about what type of cutlery is being used. Are they using plastic or bamboo? Compostable, recyclable or trash?
  • Instead of the standard individual juice boxes, create a colorful juice shot or carafe station with smoothie and juice options. This is also brain food and will get your attendees more engaged.
  • To-go meals: ask about insulated coolers! This is a great option to keep items cold when on-the-go and they are reusable.

“Meat-Free Day.” Vegetables are bigger than ever and plant-based is in.

  • Go meatless. 31% of consumers practice a no-meat day, and more people identify as vegan or vegetarian than in the past. Chefs love to get creative and this is just one way to showcase their talent.
  • Try new things and ideas — your attendees are naturally curious.
  • Save money and the environment by using plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu seitan.

A Play on Color! Our parents always told us not to play with our food, but why not? Colorful is appealing to the eye, and food is fun to create. Food that can be mixed-and-matched provides opportunities for conversation and creativity.

  • Think tapas. Not every meal has to be huge. Smaller, colorful food items deliver more variety and less waste.
  • Create a crostini station with a variety of toppings instead of the standard deli sandwich. Crostini’s are more bite-sized, and this allows attendees to try multiple without adding to the waste.
  • Think sweet and savory: banana and Nutella, cream cheese and fruit, lox and salmon, avocado and sriracha.
  • Use food, herbs, and plants as décor on buffet stations and plated meals.
  • Create a food wall so guests can put what they want on their plate.

Know Your Audience. According to former Executive Chef Wardynski, at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, communication can reduce waste. If you have a group of 300, but know not all will eat crudité, guarantee 150. Boxed lunches and to-go meals often have a lower consumption and Chef Wardynski would rather make an additional 10% boxed lunches on the fly than throw them away.

  • Collect dietary restrictions and preferences during the registration phase.
  • Understand your demographics. The chocolate cake won’t appeal to a fitness group, but cocoa and peanut butter protein bites will hit the spot.
  • Monitor consumption for the food and beverage component of the meeting.
  • What percentage of your group attends the Welcome Reception?
  • Determine how many meals were provided for breakfast versus how many attendees showed?
  • What were the popular items on the buffet versus the items that didn’t move at all?

Donate Whenever and Whatever You Can. Cooked food, if time and temperature-controlled and does not leave the back of the house can still be donated.

  • Discuss with your CVBs, conference service managers and chefs where the local food banks are located.
  • Review the World Wildlife website for a back of house guide and online toolkit.

Rethink Meeting Space. It’s time we start thinking outside the box (literally.)

  • Set up beach chairs, bring your breakfast in an insulated cooler, and discuss your topics with your toes in the sand.
  • Take a hike! Use this as a teambuilding activity to promote healthy lifestyles and enjoy the natural beauty.
  • Transform the ballroom or lawn into a yoga lounge. Instead of tables and chairs, use yoga mats – they’re mobile and you can move them whenever needed.

Use less AV and Save Energy. AV consumes 16% or more of your overall budget and requires tons of energy and labor. What can be done to preserve our natural environments and promote healthy lifestyles? The options are endless!

  • PowerPoints are a great resource to relay information to an audience, but not every event requires this. Some events require brainstorming, and creative, natural environments will assist in coming up with ideas.
  • Create a general session space to come together as one group but take a break from technology during the breakouts and immerse yourself in the elements. Less set-up, labor energy, and money.
  • Incorporate natural elements as your décor. If you’re hosting a meeting in Florida, ask about driftwood or seashells that can be used for décor. This will add an outside element when you can’t be there.
  • Recycle your lanyards and name badges. Many companies have a standard badge type or size they buy year after year, so why throw them away? Set out a bin outside the meeting space for lanyards and badge holders.
  • Printing large pamphlets for each attendee is unnecessary. On average, attendees carry 2-3 devices, and most likely have the information needed! Don’t waste time, money and resources on items that will be left in the meeting space after the event concludes. The less paper at an event, the better.

We may just be getting started, but when the entire industry bands together, we’ll make a huge impact on the future of events.

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See the Impossible: InHouse Physicians

Diamond Sponsor Feature – InHouse Physicians

With the threats to travelers growing, duty of care is front and center as a job responsibility of planners. At this year’s M&IW Annual Summit you will meet a leader in the industry who not only consistently delivers a powerful risk management solution to their clients, but a company that has transformed to a much broader mission. InHouse Physicians leverages the latest in neuroscience offerings and creates a roadmap that adds significant values to programs. InHouse Physicians (IHP) introduces neuroscience elements, such as mindfulness, nutrition for the brain, and visualization into meetings.

Dr. Spero, the CEO of IHP  had the following to say about Seeing the Impossible. InHouse Physicians has gone beyond what is possible by exploring new opportunities with neuroscience interventions, the flow state of the brain and what he has termed as “BioStacking. To learn more about the ‘how’, ‘what’, and ‘why’ of IHP, please continue reading the interview below.

This year’s M&IW Summit Theme is See the Impossible. Our message is about going beyond what is possible to uncover solutions to challenges and explore new opportunities. How does InHouse Physicians See the Impossible and raise the bar for your clients? 

Over the span of three decades, InHouse Physicians has grown consistently by delivering a powerful risk management solution to our clients that satisfies their organization’s duty of care. There has never been a program location or healthcare need that IHP has not been able to fulfill – whether it is the delivery of emergency care on a safari in South Africa, providing a medical safety net for World Cup in 12 South American cities, or responding to an infectious disease outbreak affecting 600 attendees at an annual sales program, InHouse Physicians delivers the “impossible.”

As part of the InHouse Physicians’ journey, we have transformed into a much broader mission – Igniting Human Potential. It is inspired by the belief that every human being is truly unlimited and that stress, bad habits, and limiting beliefs create an environment which affects our performance in life. This belief has been supported by what we have experienced at meetings – attendee stress and burnout leading to poor engagement, illness, and performance.  There exists a huge opportunity to leverage the latest research in neuroscience offering a roadmap for meeting professionals to adding significantly more value at their programs. By introducing neuroscience elements, such as mindfulness, nutrition for the brain, and visualization, planners can assist program sponsors in meeting and exceeding their program goals and driving improvements in the bottom line.

What are some of the trends you are seeing related to your business? Or, do you have any new products or services that are creating waves? 

There are two primary trends affecting our business, namely, Duty of Care and Human Performance. With the threats to travelers growing, Duty of Care is front and center as a job responsibility of event planners. With the threats to travelers growing, Duty of Care is front and center as a job responsibility of event planners. The need to access and mitigate risk at meetings has never been greater. Of course, our services coincide, as we are a powerful medical risk management tool for high profile programs. A large percentage of sales meeting attendees are responsible for generating most of the revenue and profits for corporations. The performance of these same sales and marketing associates is critical to the success of the organization. As such, the science of human performance is starting to be taken very seriously at corporations. The corporate wellness movement and, more recently, the popularity of corporate mindfulness program are a couple of examples of this trend being put into action. Meeting professionals are ideally positioned to partner with an organization’s sales and human resource departments to develop strategic initiatives to drive human performance at key sales programs. It is time for the role of the professional meeting planner to expand to a more strategic one. Offering meaningful solutions to benefit the organization’s bottom line is a good place to start!

InHouse Physicians’ R-Lounge offers planners a turnkey human performance solution, based in neuroscience, and designed to offer attendees a restorative experience improving well-being, engagement, and performance at programs.

What does Seeing the Impossible mean to you personally? In your role, how are you continuing to bring new, fresh and innovative ideas to forward?

I have struggled in my life with health issues that required me to look outside the normal avenues for answers. These health struggles lead me to a deeper journey into human existence and how our own self-imposed limitations are the primary force holding us back from reaching our true potential. Through my learnings and insights, I have spent more than a decade building a formula for optimizing human performance based on neurobiology. This formula consists of stacking proven, individual neuroscience interventions on top of one other to move the brain closer to a Flow State – a process I have termed as “BioStacking.”

BioStacking leverages the latest knowledge in neuroscience research to improve focus, memory, learning, complex decision-making, creativity, and emotional regulation resulting in dramatic improvements in your personal and professional performance. The key neuroscience interventions included in BioStacking are:

  • Focused Attention – meditation to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, relax, and balance.
  • Mindfulness – open monitoring to be in the present, live in the now.
  • Future Visions – visualization to identify your core dreams, associated purpose, and remove limitations.
  • Metacognition – learning to better think, memorize, and analyze.
  • Recovery – downtime is productive time and recovery from stress.

When in Flow you not only have a greater capacity for learning, you also have greater interconnectivity and collaboration with others and overall reduced stress – all things that are important to your professional performance and personal life. As corporations continue to invest in the well-being and development of their employees, the neuroscience interventions of BioStacking become the key to satisfying an ever-evolving workforce. This new workforce expects their employers to provide a culture focused on a growth mindset, a holistic set of wellness offerings, and tools to achieve greater performance in the workplace.

The R-Lounge takes several of the elements of BioStacking and seamlessly incorporates them into meetings and events.

To learn more about Igniting Human Potential and how InHouse Physicians delivers powerful risk management solutions time and time again, we invite you to connect with the InHouse Physician Team at the M&IW Summit Supplier Showcase.

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See the Impossible: Visit Orlando

M&IW Summit Sponsor Visit Orlando

Diamond Sponsor Feature – Visit Orlando

Have you had the opportunity to partner with a vendor who has worked hand-in-hand with you to create an unforgettable meeting? Do you know you don’t need to travel far to offer attendees an extraordinary experience? Orlando, Florida is the perfect event destination thanks to the incredible diversity filled with unique experiences for attendees. Visit Orlando ensure the creation of an unforgettable event!

We caught up with Susan Zeiri, National Accounts Director, with Visit Orlando to find out what See the Impossible means to her and her organization. Please continue reading to see what she had to say about Seeing the Impossible:

This year’s M&IW Summit Theme is See the Impossible. Our message is about going beyond what is possible to uncover solutions to challenges and explore new opportunities. How does Visit Orlando See the Impossible and raise the bar for your clients?

From the initial site visit to the closing reception, our Visit Orlando team works hand-in-hand with groups to create unforgettable meeting experiences. Whether groups are searching for a nontraditional venue, new culinary experiences or world-class entertainment, planners can count on Visit Orlando as a strong partner and an extension of their team. Merging our destination expertise with the planner’s imagination, there are no limits to what groups can accomplish with their Orlando event.

What are some of the trends you are seeing related to your business? Or, do you have any new products or services that are creating waves?

Experiential meetings have become increasingly popular with clients in Orlando, as it allows planners to customize their event experience. Our destination is home to several unique venues that can serve as an incredible backdrop to create memorable events for attendees. Planners can have an event at the foot of a volcano at Universal’s Volcano Bay, enjoy a beachside reception with animal encounters at Discovery Cove or host an outdoor block party under a 400-foot lighted observation wheel at Icon Park. At Universal Orlando Resort, meetings can be kicked off with the help of a larger-than-life character from The Transformers movie franchise. At SeaWorld Orlando, groups can go behind the scenes and watch veterinarians nurse rescued sea cows back to health. The destination is constantly unveiling new event spaces, innovations and upgrades that will give planners great options and keep attendees excited about their next Orlando meeting.

What does Seeing the Impossible mean to you personally?

Working for such a dynamic city for 19 years I would say that I have firsthand experienced the impossible. When I first started with Visit Orlando there were just a handful of convention hotels and the OCCC only had 1.2 million square feet on the West side of the building. International Drive was considered “boring” with chain restaurant and tourist type of shopping.

In my 19 years, I have witnessed the impossible! The addition of the North/South Building of the OCCC adding an additional 1.2 million square feet; the construction of Rosen Shingle Creek, The JW/Ritz Grande Lakes, the Hilton/Waldorf Bonnet Creek, the Hilton Orlando and the expansion of the Peabody to the Hyatt Regency Orlando. These are the significant changes that have occurred over the past 19 years, but that doesn’t even include the Impossible of turning Orlando from a ho-hum food city to one of the Nation’s best cities for fine dining!

As a salesperson for this great city, I have witnessed the impossible when it comes to growth and development, and I have also had to ride the wave of “the Impossible” by meeting as many customers as possible within my market and introducing them to the Orlando as a top business destination as opposed to just a place for families to connect. I also had to work diligently and effortlessly to educate our customers on the value of a CVB. This has come a long way since I started with Visit Orlando and I am so thrilled to have been a part and perhaps made my mark and contribution to the CVB world which at times seemed impossible. I have learned to never use the word “Impossible”, but rather, “Anything is possible”. That is my personal motto.

We invite you to talk with the Visit Orlando expert team at the M&IW Summit Supplier Showcase coming up in August of 2019.

Posted in: Company News, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting, Upcoming Events

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Luxury Incentive Travel Comes to Wine Country

Written by Mary Enke | Creative Lead and Sr. Buyer, Incentive Travel Services

Like a fine wine, building luxurious 5-star hotels in Napa Valley takes considerable time. Napa Valley has long been regarded as the epitome of beauty. A countryside scene full of sweeping vineyards, award-winning wines, and fabulous food pairings, which make it the perfect weekend getaway or a well-deserved vacation. As one of the most desirable destinations in the world, Napa Valley has spent considerable time revitalizing their tourism offerings to extend into large group travel for global businesses.

Full of a wide range of bed and breakfast accommodations and boutique hotels, Napa Valley is slowly starting to build up the 5-star hotel reputation to host large incentive programs. Because of its Mediterranean climate and the permits needed to maintain the environmental integrity of the Valley, it is very difficult to build large properties. Projects have taken years and years, and hotel owners must be dedicated to both quality and sustainability.

The Four Seasons; for example, has been in the works for a long time. And, as you may know—wherever a Four Seasons builds—luxury travel follows. With that said, Napa Valley is on our radar to become an outstanding, long-awaited opportunity for high-end incentives.

Below are four of the most renowned properties coming to wine country:

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley are on target to open in early 2020. Located in Calistoga, right in the heart of California’s famed wine region. With its on-site vineyard, vine-to-table restaurant, wellness spa and 85 farmhouse-style accommodations, there is no doubt that this esteemed property will be in the top the list for any high-end incentive programs considering a wine country getaway.

Montage Healdsburg

Adding to the competition will be the Montage Healdsburg, located in the heart of Sonoma wine country and just minutes from the charming downtown Healdsburg. Offering 130 bungalow style guestrooms and private residences, the resort is set to open summer of 2020, hard hat tours will begin this summer 2019, and a showroom will be available this fall.

Las Alcobas in St. Helena

Another property worth mentioning is Las Alcobas in St. Helena, a Luxury Collection hotel. It opened in 2017 and is a 5-minute walk from downtown St. Helena and right next door to Beringer Estate, one of the oldest wineries in the area. The 5-star resort has 68 rooms and suites and is modern and minimal with a touch of chic farmhouse. All rooms are vineyard or estate views and feature a patio or balcony with an electric firepit and rockers. A beautiful spa and highly seasonal menu influenced by the local harvest are notable features. Recent reviews have compared it to the Auberge properties but offer a more urban setting and boutique aesthetic.

Archer Hotel Napa

Another new build which opened in 2017 is Archer Hotel Napa. It’s called a boutique, however, has 183 rooms and suites. Located in downtown Napa, two doors down from the Andaz, the Archer offers a very cool rooftop bar and a Charlie Palmer Steak. This solid 4-star is in a great location and could cater to some incentives looking for a downtown experience but could also be considered for meetings.

A Relaxing Adventure

While luxury may be up-and-coming in wine country to entice large group travelers, one element of Napa Valley remains the same—relaxing, awe-inspiring activities and entertainment. Historical wine tours and food pairing activities are a near requirement as a day trip in the area, while bike and hot air balloon tours showcase its scenic views. Interested in learning more about wine country for your next group, just email us at and we’d be happy to put you in touch with one of our incentive travel experts.

Posted in: Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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Employee Spotlight: Global Operations

Incentive Trip Team Photo Hawaii Top Performers
Written by Christina Wicklund | Event Marketing Lead

At M&IW, we know our culture starts and ends with our extremely talented and dedicated team members who bring their experience, passion, and creativity to each and every client event. One of these amazing employees is Kristi Stephan, Senior Program Manager on our Global Operations team. In her role, she specializes in high-end incentive programs.

We sat down with Kristi to learn more about her career in the industry and current position with M&IW. During our chat, we discovered what she loves most about her position at M&IW is the ability to create unique and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our clients, winners and their guests. Especially the amazing memories for the individuals who have earned an invaluable trip as a part of a reward for their hard work and accomplishments. Kristi took a bit of time out of her busy travel schedule to give us additional insight into what she values, her journey and what makes her tick.

Q: What do you value most about M&IW and why?
What I value the most is our work family. Jean and Tina, as well as our leaders and peers, support all of us in our everyday work. More importantly, they value us as workers as well as people. I feel very blessed to be part of this amazing company.

Q: What’s the most interesting destination you’ve had a program at and why?

My favorite program destination is Dublin, Ireland. I feel the city of Dublin gives one the ability to experience the beauty of the countryside, the history of the city, and it offers incredibly unique evening event spaces. It’s the perfect trifecta of destinations.

Q: What is a weird experience you’ve had while working onsite?

Being chased by a monkey in Nevis while on my morning run. That was hands down the weirdest thing that I have ever experienced!

Q: Before working at M&IW, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

While in college, I attended Disney World’s College Program in Orlando, Florida. I was selected for this prestigious internship where I learned about Disney management as well as worked a full-time job at their Hollywood Studios Prime Time Café. It was an amazing learning experience.

Q: What is a quirky fact about you that not many know?

When entering college, I wanted to be a microbiology major and become a doctor.

Q: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice at 13, what would it be?

Life is short, enjoy the moment, and the people around you.

We want to thank Kristi for not only taking the time to share her passion and a little bit about herself; but also for being an M&IW Hospitality Hero. Information about joining our team can be found at

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Above & Beyond – Stories from the Frontline

Written by Staci Simmons | Manager, Marketing Communications & Creative Services

The only thing you can plan for is change. If something can happen at an event—it will. Our experts took time to share some of their most interesting and outrageous stories from the frontline. From mother-nature to man-made, these onsite challenges allowed our team to stretch their problem-solving muscles to save the situation from escalating, ensuring the event went as smoothly as possible.

Here are their stories:

Flood of Problems

In Barcelona for a meeting, at the end of our last day, after the meeting was done and departures had concluded, our team ventured outside to reflect on the success of the event. Moments later, we received a call from the manager on duty to let us know that there was an incident in one of our attendee’s guestroom. He explained when housekeeping entered the room, it was flooded with at least two inches of water. The description was vivid… from the foul smell to pieces of food floating in the water. Our first concern was our attendee and we were relieved to learn she was at the entire meeting and safely on her travels home. Initially, the hotel threatened to charge for damages. However, after a little digging, they realized they had shut off the water the night before and into the morning. Naturally, the attendee must have turned on and checked every faucet that morning to get ready and accidentally left them on. She went to the meeting, checked out of the hotel and departed home. However, during the day the water had come back on—flooding the entire guestroom. The hotel had not announced there would be a shut-off, so the guest was not charged for damages.

Do Not Disturb

At one of our conferences taking place at large convention center in a downtown area, our staff went to set up the registration table the second day and noticed what appeared to be a “homeless” gentleman sleeping under the skirted table. It totally caught us off guard as we were not expecting an “uninvited visitor” and especially not under the hospitality desk. He woke up, we politely told him we were setting up for a conference and he left.

Didn’t Miss a Beat

The meeting was at the Renaissance Orlando Sea World and it was the last day of the conference. We had an awesome closing keynote speaker who is a former Surgeon General. The board and co-chairs were very excited to hear him speak. About halfway through his presentation, the city of Orlando had a brown out. The hotel had no power at all and all the lights and audio shut down in the general session. Of course, the attendees were a bit alarmed completely in the dark. We propped the doors open quickly to get some light in from the atrium and grabbed flashlights. The speaker was so fantastic – he didn’t miss a beat! He walked off of the stage, into the audience, and just kept speaking – no microphone, nothing. It actually made his presentation better because it felt more intimate than just him flipping through a power point and being on a stage. He received a well-deserved standing ovation!

Of Course, We Can

One year, for a reoccurring event, an attendee asked for a specific room during the online registration process, describing the room in vivid detail. Shortly after they registered, they emailed us to follow up with the request with an attached photo of the hotel, with an arrow pointing to the specific room, on a specific side of the hotel, overlooking the pool. While the client’s room block was not in that area, we worked with the hotel to put the attendee near their requested room. Because we have contracted with the hotel annually, they were willing to work with us to accommodate the request.

$10,000 Well Spent

We manage programs all over the world in amazing places and spaces. However, the venue’s decor doesn’t always lend itself to our client’s vision. So, we need to get creative or take extreme measures. We once had a client request to take down a gigantic chandelier because she didn’t like how it looked in the general session and thought it interfered attendees seeing the presenters. She was willing to pay the $10,000 to have it removed and then re-installed after the event. As for the chandelier, the hotel took it down only for the client to realize she didn’t like how it looked without it either—so their maintenance staff put it back up.

Needy Friends

In our business, we get a lot of requests–big, small and everything in between. It comes with the territory, and we do our best. However, we once had a request for a treadmill and 8-pound weights to be put in a sleeping room for a National Sales Meeting. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a VIP request or even an attendee – it ended up being a guest sharing a room with an attendee at the meeting. Interestingly, Westin Hotels and Peloton have now teamed up to put bikes in fifty WestinWORKOUT Studios and select guestrooms. She was just ahead of her time.

It’s the Bridge’s Fault

A few years ago, we were standing outside an event venue waiting for the Board of Directors. Someone called me in a panic to let me know the CEO was upset that they were late for breakfast. They told the CEO the bridge was up and the mini coach was waiting for it to go down. Clearly annoyed, he told her to call us to “get that fixed.” Literally, as she finished asking us to “get the bridge down” the lights started blinking and siren blaring as the bridge slowly started to recede. The timing could not have been better. As a solution, we quickly had breakfast moved to the meeting room so they could eat and meet. Problem solved!

Snow in San Antonio

One December, we were onsite in San Antonio, Texas for a routine dinner meeting. As we all know, Texas is located in southern Texas and the temperatures usually range from hot to hotter. This particular night happened to be the first snowfall for the first time in about 20 years. Oddly enough, the hotel’s heat wasn’t working (probably because they haven’t had to turn it on in years), but we had a great idea—to pass out hotel blankets from housekeeping and serve hot cocoa and coffee during dinner. The participants and clients were impressed. Most attendees loved the fact most of them traveled from up north to warmer weather, only to find snow! An evening that could have turned out to be a disaster, ended up being a fun memorable moment for staff and customers, alike.

Every event is an adventure. Our expert team of event managers, coordinators, and onsite team members know how to diligently and professionally manage problems as they arise. To learn more about event management visit or call 1+ 262.835.3553 to speak to one of our pros.

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An Inside Look at the CMP Governance Commission

CMP Exam, CMP Governance Commission, Steve Lorenz

Written by Christina Wicklund | Event Marketing Lead

M&IW’s very own Steven Lorenz, CMP, HMCC, Senior Account Lead, and 2017 Chair Exam Development Committee, CMP Governance Commission 2015-2019; along with Liz Dombrowski, Certification Manager, Events Industry Council were approached by the Events Industry Council to co-author an article titled “Why did they ask me that? How a question gets on the CMP Exam.”

In reading this article, it sparked a few questions in my mind about what goes on behind the scenes during the creation of the CMP Exam, what’s the process, how do they come up with the exam questions, and how does it all work? So, I interviewed Steve to find out more about the CMP Governance Commission and how he was selected to serve on this prestigious board along with many other interesting questions about Steve’s journey and how it all links together. It was a thought-provoking conversation and his answers are very insightful.

  • What exactly is the CMP Governance Commission? The CMP Governance Commission is the governing body that oversees the CMP credential. It works to ensure the credential truly reflects the important work of meeting professionals and that the International Standards are current. It also oversees exam development and that all test items pass through a strenuous review process to ensure best in class certification through rigor, relevance, and value.
  • How long have you served on the CMP Governance Commission? It has been my pleasure and honor to serve since 2015 with my esteemed colleagues from all sectors of the events industry, including planners and suppliers. Read more at 2019 Events Industry Council Board of Directors.
  • When did you land this opportunity? One of my CMP mentors reached out and shared with me the structure of the CMP Governance Commission about five years ago. She thought it would be a great fit and suggested I put my name in the ring to serve on the Commission.
  • Why are you passionate about your role with the CMP Governance Commission? I am very passionate about the industry. Serving on the CMP Governance Commission is one of the ways I can give back to the meetings and event industry to keep the CMP current and relevant. It is an important function and I am thrilled to be part of it.
  • What is a unique story you have about volunteering on the CMP Governance Commission? There are so many things I have learned participating on the CMP Governance Commission. I had no idea the amount of effort and work that goes into maintaining a credential. I also had never heard of psychometrics (the science of measuring mental capacities and the key guidance practice of developing the CMP certification) before. I didn’t know this field of study even existed prior to joining the Commission.
  • As a mentor to event professionals looking to sit for the CMP, what are three pieces of advice you have to offer? Participate in educational opportunities, especially those areas that you don’t necessarily work in every day to stretch your learning outside of your current job or role. Study, study, study: the exam is rigorous, but if you accept the challenge, earning the credential and joining the CMP is well worth the effort. Don’t put it off; the application to sit for the CMP can be daunting at first glance, but if you review and start to complete it, you can see the areas that will need more of your attention or surprise yourself that you already meet the requirements to sit for the exam.
  • Give us one last item you’d like to share with regards to your experience with the CMP Governance Commission? Sitting on the CMP Governance Commission has been an incredible experience and a high point in my career. It is amazing to me that I am allowed to participate in the program at this level and I have learned so much. It is an honor to participate and advance the recognition of the CMP Community.

The CMP isn’t just a prestigious set of letters. This test is challenging because being a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is more than knowing how to plan productive meetings, execute exciting events, or even being a subject matter expert. It is also about inspiring and mentoring the next generation of event planners. When you take the CMP exam you know how much thought and care your fellow event professionals put into it and their passion for the industry. The CMP Governance Commission is always there rooting for you!

Read the full article Why did they ask me that? How a question gets on the CMP Exam. It was published on the Events Industry Council website to uncover the CMP Exam creation process.

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

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Engaging your Workforce through Corporate Responsibility

corporate giving, charity, causes, CSR, Big Brothers Big Sisters

Written by Staci Simmons | Manager, Marketing Communications and Creative Services

Over the last ten years, corporate responsibility has transformed from a single act of charity, such as sponsorships, volunteerism and community involvement to complete, brand-centric philanthropy. If done well, modern corporate social responsibility practices engrain themselves into the culture of an organization impacting employees, customers, suppliers, and even communities.

Social impact has expanded into every part of the business, by function, unit, and even geography. CSR programs can no longer afford to simply be charitable — social impact needs to be ‘built into’ a company’s strategy showcased across many aspects of operations.

Transform Your Business

  • Consider B-Corp Strategies – B Corporations build their companies around social impact
  • Encourage Influencers – Offer individual incentives for executives and employees who take social responsibility personally and mentor others
  • Create a Portfolio – Outline a portfolio of outreach programs at each level of your organization
  • Think Locally – Choose local or brand-centric activities and interest that align with corporate goals and interests
  • Promote Thoughtfully – Use consideration when sharing your CSR endeavors without diluting your message

Engage Your Workforce

The more aligned your CSR activities are with the company’s culture and values, the more they will resonate with the employees. Attendees who are personally invested will leave your meeting, conference, tradeshow or event with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. For maximum impact, we recommend starting your CSR activity in advance with some friendly competition — it is a great way to raise both awareness and funds early. Be sure to recognize top achievers and high performing teams during your event and continue to support the cause in other ways throughout the year.

Select a CSR Activity

Our clients often ask us what are the most popular CSR programs? It is a hard question to answer as the options are endless and each program is unique and customized for your group based on your objectives, attendees, location, and budget. However, below are some programs that have been a hit with our clients over the years:

  • Arrange a Scavenger Hunt
  • Build a Beehive
  • Host a Game Show
  • Run a Race for a Cure
  • Create a Charity Match
  • Build a Playground for Kids
  • Host Fitness Challenges
  • Clean the Local Ecosystem
  • Adopt a Local or International School
  • Host a Clean Water Challenge
  • Provide Packages for Rescue Animals
  • Build a Home with Habitat for Humanity
  • Pack STEM Education Kits
  • Build a Wheelchair
  • Pack Food/Medicine bags for Project Open Hand
  • Paint Shoes with Soles for Souls
  • Register for Pledge It Forward
  • Build Bikes or Red Wagons for Children

Create a Culture of Giving

As part of our corporate Global Giveback, every year we select a different charity to support and theme our CSR activity. This year we are supporting the fight against hunger. At our annual company event, our employees packed more 26,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. Each month, we designate specific food items which makes it easy for individuals to participate and we track our collective impact. Additionally, our M&IW family is supporting a local pantry through monetary donations, food and hygiene items, and volunteering our time.

Corporations with sound CSR practices have access to many benefits — intrinsic and extrinsic. This incentive drives the implementation of corporate programs at meetings and conferences and events. More so, event marketers see that initiatives are good for business and good for the connectivity of their shareholders.

For more information about best practices in selecting, designing and executing a CSR program for your next event, contact us at



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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Top 3 Benefits of Partnering with a Women-Owned Business

Meetings & Incentives Worldwide (M&IW) is honored to be a trusted certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the WBDC-Chicago, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) for the seventh consecutive year. M&IW owned by sister team, Jean Johnson and Tina Madden, are committed to a diverse work environment that backs its words with accountable actions.

“We are very excited to offer this additional value to our current and future clients committed to supplier diversity programs,” said Jean Johnson, CMP, Co-CEO and Chief People Officer. By including women-owned businesses among their vendors, corporations, and government agencies, organizations demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier/vendor diversity programs.

While there are many benefits of working with diverse suppliers, there are three that stand out as being the most impactful to a business’s bottom line.

Top Three Benefits of a Supplier Diversity Program

  1. The Federal Government Offers Tax Incentives

Partnering with diverse and minority-owned suppliers, including WBENC provides many tax incentives from the federal level. Not only does a business receive a tax break, but they also may be able to take advantage of reduced tax liabilities if minority vendors and suppliers are being used for federal or state-funded grants or loans. As a certified organization, we can provide you with all the information needed to leverage this opportunity.

  1. Diverse Partners Can Increase Procurement Channels

Diverse suppliers have deep relationships with other vendors that may provide additional saving across your business. The strength of these relationships and their commitment to quality and innovation often leads to a tangible increase in savings and resources for obtaining goods and services.

3. Strategic Diversity Aligns Revenue & Economic Impact

Supplier Diversity programs offer an impactful and marketable way to differentiate yourself from your competitors to shareholders, employees, and consumers, which may increase business opportunities. Diversity-leading organizations know they need leaders who both understand and reflect the needs of their customers. Women-owned businesses are also one of the fasted growing sectors of our economy. Showcasing your company’s commitment to doing business in diverse markets increases economic growth in many communities.

Why Diversity Matters to Us

We live in a deeply connected and global world. It should come as no surprise that more diverse companies are achieving better performance. “We need to attract, develop and retain diverse leaders who both understand and reflect the needs of our customers,” said Tina Madden, Co-CEO and Chief Customer Officers. Additionally, as a certified WBE, we are dedicated to a supplier diversity strategy that seeks out and utilizes women-owned and minority suppliers internally and within our customers’ events.




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

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How to Better Engage Attendees at Mandatory Meetings

Engaging Attendees at Mandatory Meetings

Written by Christina Wicklund | Event Marketing Project Lead

Let’s face it, some meetings are mandatory; attendees do not have a choice in the matter. These types of meetings can be challenging even for the tenured planner. How do you get an attendee to want to register for a mandatory meeting? How do you keep them engaged during the meeting? How do you offer a calming more comfortable learning environment? I presented these questions to three SMEs on our Global Enterprise Solutions team to discover the current tips and tricks for making the most out of mandatory meetings.

Jessica Menzer, HMCC, Strategic Account Manager, had plenty of insight to offer based on her 15 years of experience in meeting planning. “As we are all aware, registration is vital to a smooth-running meeting. All factors of an event are based on the quantity of attendees – room size, seating style, quantity of food, transportation to offsite events, staff on hand, the list is endless. It is essential invitees register, that is why marketing is imperative for events, including mandatory ones.”

When asked how she entices attendees to register for a meeting they don’t have a choice in attending. Jessica stated “start with a Save the Date invite with plenty of time in advance. Choose an appealing destination with a hotel located near attractions, shops and restaurants.” She continued by suggesting the use of airport hotels that are easy to maneuver to and from the airport, especially for 1-day meetings. In addition to the points above, Jessica recommends to always reveal some agenda content in advance of the event. By focusing on clear communication and the value of the mandatory meeting, planners can generate excitement and drive registrations for even the most reluctant invitee.

Once the attendees have registered, the question becomes how planners keep them engaged during a meeting that they must attend, Paquita McCray shared a plethora of ideas. Paquita has been working in this industry for more than 15 years, she is also a Strategic Account Manager at M&IW. One of Paquita’s suggestions is interactive meeting technology with electronic tablets for all participants. Tablets, such as EM-Array, have multiple uses and keep attendees interacting throughout the event. When using tablets at a meeting make sure the following items are installed prior to the start of the meeting.

  • Agenda – ability to update as needed
  • Hotel Map – meeting, breakfast, lunch, dinner and break room locations clearly marked
  • Presentation Slides – attendees can take notes and save slides for future reference
  • Audience Response System (ARS) and Live Polling Questions
  • Speaker Bios
  • Surveys, Session Evaluations and Certificates of Attendance
  • Interactive Games – Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune format is popular and questions can be customized based on the objective and content of the meeting

Additionally, many global mandatory meetings have multilingual participation. Setting up multilingual capabilities for attendees will help with engagement. To ensure clear communication, provide translation services when needed. When attendees submit questions and opinions through the tablet, give them the ability to enter questions in their local language. Ensure prior to the event that the tablet is programed to translate the question to the group/moderator.

A must-have on everyone’s list, especially for mandatory meetings, is a mobile app. Mobile apps generate engagement throughout the event – pre, during and post. Apps provide attendees up-to-the-minute information and event navigation at their fingertips. This form of technology also enhances and brings events to life via the energy of registered attendees, which is very helpful when applied to mandatory meetings.

Paquita also recommends scheduling presentations to rotate speakers; nothing is worse on one’s attention span than sitting through the same speaker for three topics, especially if the content is dry. Adjust the presentation styles and make sure speakers are dynamic. Review the decks prior to avoid speakers duplicating information.

The last great piece of advice that Paquita offered is to make sure you schedule in adequate breaks and white space. If there is a longer presentation, break it up into part one and part two with a break in between. Attendees often lose interest or focus on their own work rather than focusing on the presenter if there is too much content in one sitting.

Steve Lorenz, CMP, HMCC, one of M&IW’s Sr. Account Leads with 28 years’ experience, suggested to always book a room with natural lighting when possible. As we all know this isn’t always possible, when that is the case, decorate the entrance, stage and room with plants to provide a calming more comfortable learning environment. He also recommended breakout sessions or workshops where attendees are separated into participant types. This gives the client the ability to cover information that is more specific to each participant, such as having an investigator session separate from a study coordinator session with medical meetings. Doing this keeps the attendees engaged and interacting with their direct peers.

By utilizing these tips from our M&IW’s subject matter experts, planners will generate pre-meeting excitement, attendee engagement and offer a conducive learning environment at their next mandatory meeting.


Posted in: Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Program Management & Event Design

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