Archive for Program Management & Event Design

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

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

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

Let’s hear what they had to say….

A More Knowledgeable and Connected Team

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

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

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

A Confident Client

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

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

A Satisfied Employee

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

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

A Final Thought

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

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

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Collaboration Rocks

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

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

Or maybe, you are all just cooperating…

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

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

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

Let me explain…

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

So, what are some of the great takeaways?

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Banding People Together would say…

ROCK ON!

 

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

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M&IW Campus Week Brings Industry Leading Content

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comprehensive Security Training Goes the Distance

Global Security Training and Situational Awareness

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mindful Event Design Goes the Distance

Psychology of Physical Meeting Environments

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

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

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

A few of the insightful points she made were…

The New Event Design Conversation

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

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

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

How Can Planners Be More Mindful

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

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

How is Mindful Event Design Going the Distance?

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

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

The Evolution of Mindful Event Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To make sure you are always up-to-date on M&IW, we invite you to join our email list. Not ready to commit? That’s okay. Simply explore all of the great information on our website, watch our brand essence video, or connect with us on social media.

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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