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January 23, 2015

PCMA Convening Leaders Breaks Records in Chicago

The Professional Convention Management Association brought a record-setting 4,128 meeting planners and suppliers to Chicago last week at Convening Leaders 2015.

With speakers from inside and outside of the meetings and conference landscape, the PCMA Education and Events Teams developed a program that let every attendee choose their own education.

“We aimed to give our attendees more than education credits,” Kelly Peacy, Senior Vice President, Education and Events, PCMA, said. “The roadmap served as a path from inspiring big-picture general session concepts to specific intimate courses with personal and practical takeaways. When our attendees return home, we want them to be able to take what they learned at Convening Leaders and immediately adapt it to their own organizations.”

While the education roadmap was founded on five primary tracks (Event Technology and Intelligence, Operational Strategy, Meeting and Experience Design, Globalization and the PCMA Business School), it also included other features that increased attendee ROI.

The PCMA Learning Lounge – Freeman and PCMA collaborated together to expand the Learning Lounge with more opportunities for attendees to dig deeper into issues. Q&A sessions included keynote speakers and thought leaders, hands-on activities and areas designed to facilitate discussions and networking.

TechCentral - With the event technology landscape evolving, the Learning Lounge served as destination for meeting planners looking to explore new tools and innovations. From an App Alley featuring platform tutorials with leading mobile app providers to a Tech Demo Zone to 30-minute TechBytes educational sessions, this was an up-close and hands-on opportunity for planners to add “tech-savvy” to their résumés.

The PCMA Park - With picnic tables, park benches, lampposts and 35 trees, the middle of the West Building at McCormick Place became a community-building place where attendees could naturally network.

PCMA’s Five Speakers to Watch Series - As meeting planners continue to search for speakers, this new addition to the program included five of the most notable (and affordable) new names on the speaking circuit.

Food For Thought Luncheon - As meeting planners work to satisfy a growing list of dietary restrictions and preferences, PCMA used Tuesday’s meal time to help Convening Leaders participants understand how to easily add gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and nut-free items to their own menus.

A Big Behind-The-Screens Meeting

As leaders from around the meetings industry gathered in Chicago, meeting professionals around the world who could not make the trip to McCormick Place in-person tuned in for the PCMA Convening Leaders Hybrid Event. In its fifth year, the hybrid event continued its impressive track record with 1,000+ attendees from 33 countries. Mary Reynolds Kane, senior director, experience marketing, PCMA, noted that the team streamed 13 sessions over three days to remote attendees.

Reynolds Kane and the PCMA hybrid meeting team infused a virtual networking element to each day of the program, too, with an online happy hour at the end of each day that allowed virtual participants to stay logged on and continue their chat discussions.

Convening Leaders 2016 will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre January 10 - 13, 2016.

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