Nearly two million events take place in the United States every year. And post-pandemic, the majority of people on both the planning and supply side of our industry are new. That means it’s more important than ever for us to share knowledge and best practices with each other.

At Encore, we’re lucky. We get to work at and attend some of the industry’s most buzzworthy events, so we can be your eyes and ears for all the juicy insights your peers took away from each experience. Here’s our roundup of three you might have missed along with key takeaways to help power your planning.

Event No. 1: PCMA Convening Leaders 2024

Convening Leaders attracts business event professionals from around the world and is known for its marquee-name keynote speakers. This year’s show in San Diego was no exception, where a fireside chat with President Clinton and Secretary of State Clinton was a highlight.

What you missed:

  • In partnership with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Strategic Alliance of National Convention Bureaux in Europe (SANCBE), PCMA announced it will co-locate the industry’s first sustainability and climate summit in Barcelona with Convening EMEA Oct. 2-3, 2024.
  • The PCMA Foundation and BESydney released research addressing gender disparity in leadership: Advancing Women in Business Events. Their key finding? Despite women comprising 70 percent of the global business event workforce, they fill only 20 percent of the senior-level roles. Considering this overwhelming disproportion, the report says it’s necessary for the business events industry to make efforts to advance women into board roles and C-suite positions.
  • A fireside-style keynote with President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton explored how loneliness has been weaponized for political gain. Additionally, they encouraged the audience to engage in empowerment politics rather than “victim politics.”

Must-know insights: Thinking bigger with event budgets

Industry experts came together during the event for a candid discussion on budget trends and smart ways to make an impact with your dollars.

Host Courtney Stanley, Global Keynote Speaker, led the roundtable talk. The discussion featured Harold Batiste, Senior Vice President, Sales Operations at HPN Global; Heather Nash, CMP, CAE, Chicago Dental Society; and Taylor Nicole Abbate, Director of National Sales, CSI DMC.

Here’s what they shared on The Breakdown LIVE at PCMA CL: Thinking Bigger with Your Event Budget.

  • According to the recent Encore Planner Pulse Report, nearly half of meeting professionals are increasing budgets in 2024 and more than a third say their budgets are flat.
  • When thinking bigger about your event budget, invest in areas that will have the biggest positive impact on the meeting experience. These include anything experiential, like food, networking, education and technology, says Harold Batiste of HPN Global and Heather Nash of the American Dental Society.
  • A final takeaway from the roundtable? Leverage AI to help you ideate creative ways to stretch your planning dollars, suggests Taylor Abbate of CSI DMC. Don’t forget to ask venues what they’re providing in the cost and ask how you can work together to create unique experiences.

Click the play button to watch the full discussion. You must be logged into LinkedIn to view the video.

Event No. 2: IMEX America 2023

The industry’s most important trade show takes over Las Vegas every October. With education provided by leading associations and a massive exhibit hall filled with global destination marketing and tourism organizations and supplier partners, IMEX is a one-stop shop for meeting destinations and event ideas.

This year’s theme? “Human Nature,” a focus that gave attendees the opportunity to engage in educational sessions and discussions on human nature as it relates to the events industry.

What you missed:

  • A record-breaking 15,000 participants, including more than 5,000 buyers, attended. More than 70,000 1-on-1 meetings happened over the course of the show.
  • Nearly 1,000 people experienced the immersive Break Free activation, which helped encourage empathy through immersive event design. The goal? To connect with participants about the importance of fostering belonging and inclusion, using multisensory storytelling.
  • More than half of planners (59 percent) say attendee engagement is a struggle, while 70 percent agree that technology is crucial to cultivating engagement.

Must-know insights: Designing events for belonging

Delving into the year’s theme, Encore favorite Courtney Stanley gathered experts from across the industry for a live discussion from the show floor on best practices for designing events where attendees feel they belong.

DeShawn Wynn, CMP-HC, Winning Touch Event Design; Megan Janel Zimmer, CED, Encore; and Trevor Lui, Co-founder, Quell Now Inc., joined the discussion. Here’s what they shared on The Breakdown LIVE at IMEX: Designing for Belonging.

  • Inclusion and belonging isn’t a trend, says Wynn — it’s about treating people like humans. If you have the mentality that everyone walking through the doors is important to you then everyone will feel like they belong and not like you’re just checking boxes.
  • When planning inclusive events, a critical best practice is to consider things that impact enjoyment, like ADHD, or disabilities like color-blindness, which can affect the way information is received or perceived, says Zimmer.
  • Lui adds that belonging is different for everyone; listening is your most important tool. That’s the best way to design inclusive experiences for diverse groups and communities. Tap into internal communities within your organization and seek out external communities if they don’t exist within your organization.

Click the play button to watch the full discussion. You must be logged into LinkedIn to view the video.

Event No. 3: GMID 2024

Global Meetings Industry Day celebrates the impact the business events industry has on local and global economies. One of the hallmarks of this annual event is MPI’s 12-hour GMID Virtual Event, which offers education from around the world.

What you missed:

  • Watch parties convened around the world to share the day of education and advocacy with each other. On the Wall tab of the virtual event platform, participants shared images and selfies of their community experiences.
  • The event celebrated the economic impact of our industry, which contributes $119 billion in travel spending and supports nearly 600,000 jobs, and the resilience and creativity of our peers in the meetings and events industry.

Must-know insights: Maximizing supplier relationships

Giving a nod to the event theme, “The Event Professional’s Journey,” Courtney Stanley once again brought experts together to chat about a critical aspect of event planning — how to get the most out of working with suppliers. 

Amanda Armstrong, CMP, CED, Encore; Lisa Astorga, CMP, DES, ISTH; and Kelli Threlfall Kahn, Global Head of Events & Experiential Marketing, Blackstone, share insights and best practices from their own experiences. Here’s what they had to say.Armstrong shared a surprising Live Data Technologies statistic: Two-thirds of all planners and suppliers are new to the industry post-pandemic. This is one essential reason why it’s more important than ever to share best practices and invest in partners who are invested in your success, she says.

  • One of the best ways to build trust and supplier relationships, says Astorga, is to forge multiyear partnerships. Doing this also generates cost savings.
  • Kahn recommends bringing partners in from the beginning. Engaging people early on with clear objectives, she says, sets you up for success.

Click the play button to watch the full discussion.

Interested in more event recaps that keep you up to date on fresh takes and new learnings?Stay tuned! As we move through the year, Encore will continue to share top tips, clever insights and industry happenings you should know. 

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