I had the privilege of spending last week at the 33rd annual International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) Americas conference 2014, settling in at the beautiful Pacific Palms Resort in Los Angeles, California alongside a record-breaking crowd of conference center industry peers. The event delivered quite a bit in the way of entertainment and education.
Conference centers encouraged to catch the wave and remain relevant
In the spirit of the conference’s “Catch the wave” theme, opening keynote speaker, sales and leadership expert Cindy Novotny, encouraged conference center professionals to focus on the inevitable future and ride the technology wave, paying particular attention to where prospects are best reached with marketing messages and remaining creative to draw more clients to your conference center.
"The buyer of today is socially more informed and empowered," Notovny reminded the crowd.
Session topics ranged from wine pairings to sales strategy, and the shifting format from lecture to small group breakout discussions helped maintain the audience’s attention. I was particularly interested in the sales sessions centered on attracting new clients and keeping existing clients continually satisfied. The sessions reinforced how important it is to avoid stagnancy, as “whatever got you to your success today will not carry you on to be successful tomorrow.”
A clever contest that satisfied the attendee appetite
IACC 2014 copper skillet competition The entertainment side of the event was boosted by everyone’s favorite, the Annual Copper Skillet Competition. The competition is IACC’s entertaining way of recognizing “the vital role that food service plays in conference centre operations.”
Participating chefs have 15 minutes to review ingredients they receive in a “mystery basket,” and then have 30 minutes to create their dish. Although there were a long list of competitors from the UK, Canada, United States, Denmark, Australia and Sweden, the five-time winner chef Murray Hall from Canada won yet again.
Light on the traffic side
My company exhibited at this event and there was not great deal of booth traffic, which I think may be due to a couple of things. First, the booths were simply located in what appeared to be a low-traffic area. Second, the group in attendance at this event is a relatively close-knit group, and I think a lot of attendees were interested in catching up with people they already knew at the event. At least, that’s the impression I got. As an exhibitor, I am obviously looking to make new connections, so perhaps I will have to consider more pre-event communication to fellow attendees in my future exhibiting strategy.
Also, the event had a dedicated hashtag (#iaccamericas14), but I didn’t see a tremendous amount of traffic in the Twitter feed. There were various flat screen TVs around the conference streaming a live Twitter, but it seemed the hashtag was only used a handful of times by repeat users.
The mobile app for the event also appeared to be lightly used, with few attendee profiles filled out. Again, this may be due to the fact that the conference audience already seemed pretty well-networked with one another, so perhaps the social media presence and app usage were as expected.