By Kait Kisel, student writer
Hospitality Business PCMA students traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the Professional Convention Management Association Annual Convening Leaders Conference from January 7 – 10, 2018. The theme of the conference was “Amplifying Engagement.” This annual conference is held to connect and provide education for event professionals, suppliers, and students. There were 5,000+ in attendance, majority were industry professionals. Students in attendance were: Sarah Michelson (BA ’20), Ryleigh Kuhn (BA ’20), Anne Swartz (BA ’20), Britton Forker (BA Advertising ’18), Erika Witte (BA ’18), Elizabeth Rupinski (BA ’20), Hayley Pegram (BA ’19), Claire Murray (BA ’20), Kyra Alpiner (BA ’20), Brooke Desormeaux (BA ’21), Lindsay Wimmer (BA ’20), Ariana Schweymaier (BA ’21), and Jillian Seguin (BA ’20). Sarah Anderson (BA ’16), a former PCMA president, was also in attendance. Sarah currently works for and was in attendance representing PSAV. Here are just a few of their favorite sessions and speakers:
Thought Leader: From Disruption to Evolution: Digital’s Impact on the Music Industry, Joe Galante, speaker (interviewed by Nick Ross). Student thoughts: “This breakout session was absolutely phenomenal. Joe Galante, a music executive from RCA, discussed his many years of experience in the music industry, and the impact of streaming services and advanced technology on the music industry. He discussed the importance of keeping up to date with new technology and trends, and reminded us that even the seemingly invincible companies can fall. He used Blockbuster as an example, showing how quickly they were overtaken by Netflix. From an events standpoint, it is important to keep your event fresh and new, even if it is very successful.” – Sarah Michelson (BA ’20).
Thought Leader: Megatrends Beyond Tomorrow, Chris Riddell, speaker. Favorite quotes from speaker: “Every moment is a technology moment.” “We will never go back to a world without change.” “Technology is redefining what it means to have an experience.” “Think of artificial intelligence as an extension of your brain, instead of a replacement.” “We live in a culture of attention and we must create incredible micro-moments to attract their attention.” “Experiences are the new brand.”
Main Stage: New Rules of Engagement for Leaders in the Shifting Geopolitical Landscape, General Stan McChrystal, speaker (interviewed by Nick Ross). Favorite quotes from speaker: “Leaders are willing to say they don’t know.” ” To better our society, it might be beneficial to have civilians work with others to improve our society.”
Thought Leader: The Power of Purpose in Business and Life, Roy Spence, speaker. Favorite quotes from speaker: “Do right, accept the consequences.” “Do good, be happy.” “Go out with a purpose with anything you do in life.”
Multi-Cultural Design Thinking: Custom Touches for Remarkable Events, Mathias Porsch and Nicola McGrane, speakers. Student thoughts: “Being able to attend the Convening Leaders conference was such an amazing professional learning experience for me. Every day was something new. We got the chance to network with professionals in every category of the hospitality industry. This was my favorite session, especially as a student who is extremely passionate about the planning and execution of successful events, I found this session so interesting. Mathias Posch, born in Brazil, discussed the importance of making your events inclusive and welcoming to people of all cultures. He discussed that some ways that he would say things in Brazil translates very differently to people in America. Nicola McGrane stressed how important it is to make yourself aware of different cultures, address language barriers, specify starting times clearly, and carefully select food and beverage choices. Events are designed to bring people together and through this session I learned about how important it is to be accommodating of everyone.” – Claire Murray (BA ’20), director of events.
“This session, too, was my favorite; it was so inspiring. I attended high school in China, and that means I was often placed in situations, even among friends, where we had different cultures and ideals. I felt this breakout session hit really close to home and it was powerful to see how event have been designed around numerous cultures. It really is going to be the way of the future, and the sooner everyone realizes that and learns it, the better off the world will be! This session truly reinforced my plans to work, study, and travel around the world whenever possible!” – Hayley Pegram (BA ’19), director of marketing.
Media Studio: The Beginning of the End: How Video May Be Killing Your Events, Sourabh Kothari, speaker. Student thoughts: “I attended a breakout on the subject of video usage during events, where the presenter stressed the importance of engagement; audiences don’t want to hear about your organization from the CEO boasting facts and figures—they want to see a narrative told using characters like themselves.” – Erika Witte (BA ’18), director of fundraising.
Convene Presents: Hottest Food and Beverage Trends for 2018, Erin Brown, Carmen Callo, Darlene Somers, CMP, and Missy Johnson, CMP, speakers. Student thoughts: “Nashville was my first ever PCMA trip, and it will definitely be one I never forget. PCMA Convening Leaders was an amazing educational experience. Going from breakout session to breakout session I learning so much about the event planning industry and everything that goes into planning events, such as menu planning and making sure all different religions and backgrounds feel like they are welcome. One breakout session that I really enjoyed was the food panel. I learned that it’s not as simple as just deciding we’re going to have this and this on the menu, you have to think about cost and what the event can afford; dietary needs are huge and they need to make options for them. I can’t wait until I get to attend this conference again sometime in the future!” – Brooke Desormeaux (BA ’21).
Closing Main Stage: Leadership, Self-Worth and the Ability to Transform Lives, Bill Strickland, speaker. Student thoughts: “My favorite quote was from Bill Strickland – ‘We have to start treating people as assets rather than liabilities.’ He was an inspiration to go out and do something good for the world. He empowered a movement within his audience to make a difference, no matter how little it may feel like that difference is, it has an impact. He informed his audience that he in fact started from rock bottom and made it to where he is today. He encouraged trial and error, and said, ‘sooner or later something sticks.’ He lives by the basic saying of having common sense on how people should be treated – it’s right in front of your face, you don’t have to figure it out. His presentation was very moving on being the change you want to see in the world; it starts with you.” – Ryleigh Kuhn (BA ’20), PCMA vice president.
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