The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) hosted their annual "Convening Leaders" conference in San Diego. I had the honor of being the "Conference Catalyst" in their Learning Lounge and to present in several forums.
The Learning Lounge is a new format that PCMA has pioneered over the last two years. This program was organized and orchestrated by the highly creative and cutting edge consulting firm, Velvet Chainsaw. Dave Lutz and Jeff Hurt (and now joined by Donna Kastner) are business improvement consultants who specialize in serving associations and corporations in transforming their meetings into industry happenings. The Learning Lounge became a conference within a conference, offering unique and bite-sized presentations and hosted discussions by a variety of speakers which allowed people to customize their learning needs. Those who participated in this series of sessions all raved about the format. It was the place to learn, connect and contemplate.
I presented four times in the lounge, including opening and closing presentations on how PCMA attendees could maximize their ROI at the Convening Leaders Conference and twice on how to create a networking culture in the planning of any event.
Several of those in attendance walked around the different learning "pods" in the Learning Lounge and brainstormed ideas on how to bring this format into their own conferences. (The National Speakers Association will be integrating a Learning Lounge at it's conference this summer, and I will be hosting and helping organize their program!). I expect that many meetings will add in this alternative option into their agendas.
A highlight of the week for me was being the keynote speaker for the "Student Union" program. I facilitated a conversation with the nearly 300 college students who were in attendance. These are mostly hospitality majors from the country's leading colleges that are teaching the future leaders in the convention and meetings industry. Spending time with these ambitious young professionals made me feel confident about the future!
Four of my books were also sold in the convention bookstore and I participated in a book signing which allowed me to meet even more cool people.
Having attended thousands of meetings, conferences and other gatherings throughout my lifetime, I was blown away by the chance to participate in this PCMA event. From the high energy atmosphere, to the top level education, to the phenomenal social events (an opening gala, a party for charity on the US Midway, and a block party like, with Kool and the Gang, that rivaled any music festival) --- this was truly a "Happening".
Have A Great Day.
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com