Smart Meetings Corporate Event Planning: Business Events, Meetings, Conferences Fri, 21 May 2021 18:36:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Virgin Hotels Las Vegas: A Cool Gift Wrapped in Fancy Paper /news/133556/virgin-hotels-las-vegas Fri, 21 May 2021 00:20:24 +0000 /?p=133556 You know when a hotel property is so different from the norm, it’s hard not to marvel at it? Virgin Hotels Las Vegas does just this.

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You know that feeling of sparked intrigue? When you can’t help but look, marvel and try to understand. When a hotel property is so different from the norm, it’s hard not to.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas does just this—it  demands your attention—and looks good doing it.

Divided into three separate towers—Canyon, Ruby and Opal—the 1,500-room (“chamber,” in Virgin speak) property’s versatility in its meetings space is something to admire. Virgin Hotels LV, formerly Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, encompasses 60,000 sq. ft. of dedicated meeting space, ranging from a theater that can host live music performances; to the 15,720-square-foot Primrose Hall; to eight studio boardrooms.

Canyon Chamber

Unlike many hotels in Las Vegas, when guests enter Virgin Hotels LV, just off The Strip on Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue, they aren’t immediately met with slot machines and tables. “The whole thing behind Virgin was a sense of arrival when you come into the hotel. Not to run right into a [gaming] table,” says Mike Rowland, executive director of group sales.

Add the property’s nontraditional space, and you’re looking at about 150,000 sq. ft. of space. One space in particular meeting professionals may appreciate is the intimate, mostly hidden and somewhat 70s-chic Shag Room, which is perfect for receptions and accommodates 120. “This has been a very popular spot. So far, we’ve sold this space more than anything else,” Rowland says.

Shag Room

The theater, which can seat 1,200, is something planners will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Las Vegas. “This is what makes us popular with convention groups—you won’t find a room like this anywhere else in the city that can be considered intimate that comes with two LCD screens, the stage wash and the built-in stage,” Rowland says. So far, he adds, this space has been used more for business and meeting groups than for live entertainment.

The Manor, formerly a retail store, is one of the newer spaces. Seating about 200 on its own, adding the adjacent outside patio rounds out that number to 300; add the event lawn and that can bring capacity up to 1,200.

Virgin Hotels LV also has two faux beach pools and Elia Beach Club (opening June), a day club venue which will present musicians; there’s also a spa and 24-hour fitness center.

Dining opportunities are wide-ranging and include The Kitchen at Commons Club; One Steakhouse, owned by brothers David and Michael Morton, sons of Arnie Morton, cofounder of Morton’s Steakhouse; Thai-serving Night + Market; seafood specialist Nobu; Mexican-themed Casa Calavera; sports betting club and restaurant Money, Baby!; and Kassi Beach House. The last three mentioned will feature patios with views of Elia Beach club. California-based Afters Ice Cream and Mediterranean Todd English’s Olives are also both scheduled to open in June.

Virgin LV may not be right on The Strip, but the first wave of visitors and guests don’t seem to mind a bit. “The No. 1 thing is customer service,” Rowland says. “We don’t have the amenities of the other hotels, but we still have guests walking out of this building happy that they got to stay here. That means a lot.”

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What Meeting Profs Get Wrong About DEI—and How to Start Fixing It /tips-tools/133544/wrong-dei-fix Thu, 20 May 2021 01:22:28 +0000 /?p=133544 What is one thing you can do to be less wrong about DEI initiatives? It helps to look at who you are inviting to your events. Here are some thought-provoking questions to ask yourself from diversity educator Jessica Pettitt.

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Who am I excluding? DEI

Jess Pettitt

After almost 20 years of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) education and consulting work, I have gotten plenty wrong. I worked in this space for years without examining my own privileges or how I even show up in a space to others. Not taking responsibility for my own actions and collecting vocabulary words negatively impacted my ability to create equitable opportunities that included diverse perspectives and experiences. I have learned over the past 5 or so years how to correct these errors and also expect more.

To be fallible and prepared means that I don’t have to react defensively and can respond in the present moment from a place of connection and responsibility (at least some of the time—I still struggle with this, of course). It took me a while, even as a DEI practitioner, to shift my focus to my learning journey and not my collecting habit.

I mean a learning journey literally because being self-reflective and responsible for who and how I am doesn’t mean focusing on diverse experiences and a current vocabulary. Pursue education in a manner than leads to more questions, not expertise. More knowledge should lead to an acute awareness of what you don’t know, and this is the foundation of a learning journey. Often, you don’t even know what you don’t know.

Course Corrections

So, now that you are primed to ask questions instead of hoard answers, what is one thing you can do to be less wrong about DEI initiatives?

The best question I would ask any client of mine when reviewing their DEI practices is simple, but not easy to answer. Who are you leaving out? Most exclaim, “No one!” in response, but this can’t be true. You don’t have a venue, enough chairs and certainly not a big enough budget to include 100 percent of the global population.

You and I make choices both consciously and unconsciously, because of our positive and negative biases that inform our habits. Our informed habits shape our decisions about who we do and do not target, invite, include and/or engage with. We discriminate. Recognizing this catches our behaviors up with our minds. Bad diversity trainings have taught us that we aren’t allowed to discriminate (at least not according to protected classes that the law shields from prejudicial judgment). The biggest mistake we all make is not noting the difference.

Think about an event you are currently planning. I didn’t mean to make you stressed out! Let’s just pick tonight’s dinner. I am a terrible cook, but I don’t do dishes, so I have made a lot of mediocre dishes over the past year.

Sometimes, I intentionally try something new or bring out an old favorite. Sometimes, I find myself halfway through a box of Cheezits and I don’t even remember retrieving from the cabinet. In my family, I don’t cook beans and potatoes as part of the same meal, but I put multiple forms of dairy on a baked potato without thinking about it.

Certain hot sauces are not appropriate for different dishes and I don’t have these rules written down. I encourage you to think about your next meal and see what you consciously or unconsciously bring to the menu decision table as well as what you do intentionally or unintentionally. Bonus if you can also identify a positive or negative bias that is present in your choices. If you can come to terms with the fact that you make choices, then you can become more conscious of those choices.

Charting Choices

Conscious Unconscious
Intentionally + +
Unintentionally + +

When thinking about DEI initiatives, see if you can complete the same chart. I will use my current clients as an example to see if that helps you.

Membership qualifications are the easiest examples of intentional conscious choices. Someone has to pay dues, be in good standing and meet specific standards according to the association in order to become and remain a member. If these standards aren’t met, then the organization intentionally removes or suspends the person. Unintentionally, some folks may be interested in membership, but not purposefully targeted.

For example, a REALTOR Association I am working with has 5,000 members, but only 1500 are active in both the industry and association. Some 3,500 members meet the standards of membership, but only 1,500 are active in the industry, so who are the 2,000 paying members that aren’t active in the industry or the association? It turns out that a lot of people pay for access to an MLS or a credential for other reasons. Even more folks maintain membership and licensures but haven’t made a professional leap just yet. These would all be consciously targeted markets, some intentional and others unintentional. If this organization launches a membership drive, it likely won’t target all of the types of members directly and may make some unconscious choices with the language, images or marketing platforms.

MoreDEI Resources for Meeting Planners

Board Rooms are another great example that can help you fill in the chart. Often organizations strategically include DEI in their plans and statements, and yet the board tables remain pretty homogeneous in race, age, experience, class, ideology, etc.  When I work with boards, I often hear something like, “We have done all of the things, they just don’t come.” Well, they are telling you that they don’t feel invited. If you truly want to include others different than who is already at the party, you may have to invite them in a different way. Unconsciously, most boards do the same things with new information so that the same people get the new information, but new people are still left out from these communications.

Helpful Questions

So, when asked for one question to get started in the right direction, I simply ask, “Who are you leaving out?” The answer to this question will help you clarify who you are inviting, but starting with the invitations doesn’t seem to allow room for the rest of the chart.

  • Who doesn’t respond and you are glad they don’t?
  • Who does respond and you wish they didn’t?
  • Who doesn’t respond and you wish they did?
  • Who does respond as you hope they will?

Jessica Pettitt has been stirring up DEI Conversations for almost two decades with her concept of Good Enough Now—how doing the best you can with what you have some of the time is better than nothing never.

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EU Approves Tourism for Vaxed Travelers /news/133537/eu-approves-tourism-vaxed-travelers Wed, 19 May 2021 21:41:30 +0000 /?p=133537 European Union officials have agreed to reopen to nonessential travel for fully vaccinated visitors.

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European Union officials have agreed to reopen to nonessential travel for fully vaccinated visitors.

According to the Associated Press, ambassadors of the 27-nation bloc have given a preliminary green light to letting tourists from outside the EU enter their territories. The European Commission says entry will be granted to those vaccinated with shots ized by the European Medicines Agency, which includes those created by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Reaction in the United States was swift and positive. “The European Union’s risk-based, science-driven plan to reopen international travel will hopefully spur the U.S. to heed the many calls for a plan and timetable to safely reopen our borders,” commented Roger Dow, president of U.S. Travel Association. “The right conditions are in place: vaccinations are increasing, infections are decreasing, all inbound visitors get tested or have to prove they’ve recovered, and it’s possible to determine vaccine status.”

Christian Wigand, EU commission spokesman, could not provide a date for the EU’s reopening, as the measure awaits full approval by countries within the bloc. The change will be nonbinding, and, according to Wigand, it includes an “emergency brake” system that is designed to stop the spread of virus variants by imposing travel limits if infection rates surge in a non-EU country.

Greece, with its heavy reliance on tourism, has already lifted restrictions for the United States, Britain, Israel and other non-EU countries. Spain announced it will open soon, and France is scheduled to open June 9.

Wigand says the agreement among EU nations must be approved and finalized by the end of the May for a system to be in place before the summertime travel surge.

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Mid-America Experience Boosts Meeting Profs Back into the F2F Saddle /news/133520/mid-america-experience-boosts-meeting-profs Wed, 19 May 2021 19:41:14 +0000 /?p=133520 The trail back to meeting F2F has to start somewhere. And for the 75 meeting professionals who attended Smart Meetings Mid-America Experience this week, the ideal place to get back in the saddle turned out to be the brand-new Hotel Drover in Fort Worth, Texas.

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The trail back to meeting F2F has to start somewhere. And for the 75 meeting professionals who attended Hotel Drover in Fort Worth, Texas.

Smart Meetings founder and CEO Marin Bright

The in-person event—Smart Meetings‘ second in three weeks—was filled with innovative tools (color-coded buttons to signal comfort level and sanctuary seating to make distancing not awkward) to make the return safer and more comfortable for attendees and staff. It was also chock-full of cowboy-chic touches, some of the best steak in the land and team building that turned lines into dances.

Lessons learned:

1. Focus on the positive. Everyone was already giddy about putting on real clothes and talking IRL, but an all-star cast of uplifting speakers helped set the tone for looking up. Comfort speakers included Scott Friedman, who shared secrets for turning life into a celebration (spoiler alert: they require GPS, gratitude, play and surprise); Joy Earl on finding your funny; and Debra Fine on the lost (and hopefully quickly rediscovered) art of small talk.

📍 Pro-tip: At your first in-person cocktail party start with “catch me up on what you are doing now,” rather than asking about a job situation that may have changed for the worse.

2. Work with innovative partners. By gathering top meeting professionals in one of the hottest new properties east of the Rocky Mountains (Hotel Drover), with help from a destination partner that embodies the can-do spirit of cowboy country (Visit Fort Worth), and launching a partnership with travel technology leader ITS, the heavy lifting was done before the event team’s flight touched down at DSW.

After all, if you are going to ask people to travel again, why not reward them with a sense of place? That is why one-one-one meetings were held in The Barn, a light-filled, high-ceilinged space crowned by reclaimed trusses and oversized, custom chandeliers; team building was line dancing lessons in a converted sheep barn in Stockyard Station; the VIP reception was at John Wayne: An American Experience museum; and dinner was at award-winning steakhouse Lonesome Dove Bistro.

MoreSite Inspection: Meetings and Entertainment in Irving, Texas

All of it was within walking distance along the cobblestones where longhorn bulls run daily.

3. Let people determine their comfort levels. Virtual supplier options allowed those who couldn’t travel to still participate in business meetings. And for those on site, color-coded pins offered at registration allowed attendees to signal their caution levels.

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6 Employee Retention Strategies for Event Management That Work /tips-tools/career/133514/employee-retention-event-management Wed, 19 May 2021 06:45:47 +0000 /?p=133514 Event management businesses are often subject to turnover. Here are six employee retention strategies specifically tailored for the industry.

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Event management businessesor even event management roles within a wider organizationare often subject to a lot of turnover.

This can be due to:

  • High-stress working environments
  • Unsociable working hours
  • Part-time, seasonal or entry-level staff
  • Difficulties coordinating with other staff or teams

So, how can you reduce these difficulties and improve employee retention in your event management business?

Many common retention practices, like continuous performance feedback, training and development, may not necessarily apply if you’re hiring temporary or seasonal staff. Plus, the pressures and requirements of events management are quite different from office-based roles.

Here are six employee retention strategies that are specifically tailored for event management businesses and roles.

1. Improve Your Recruitment Processes

If you need to recruit a large number of staff, or if you’re recruiting in a rush, then it’s easy to end up hurrying through the recruitment process.

See alsoEtiquette Tips for Job Hunting on Social Media

To improve retention, you need to start with hiring. Either spend time on interviewing candidates so you can be sure that they’ll be a good fit (and enjoy the fast-paced environment of event management) or use an agency that can provide you with candidates who they’ve already carefully vetted.

2. Pay a Higher Rate and/or Offer Benefits

If you want staff to stick around, then you need to compensate them well: better than competing companies. This ideally means paying more per hour, but you could also look at adding benefits. This can obviously include standard benefits such as health insurance, but you could also think about perks or other offerings like free fitness classes.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should always make sure you pay on-time and in-full. It’s best practice to use a payroll checklist to make sure you stay on top of everything related to payroll.

3. Ensure Volunteers and Casual Staff Are Included

One big issue with events management is that you may have a large number of volunteers or casual staff who are only needed at the most pressured times (e.g. during the live event itself).

This can create issues for these individuals, who may feel stressed and inadequately prepared, but it’s also difficult for full-time members of your team, who may feel that they can’t fully trust the more casual workers.

It’s important to make casual staff and volunteers feel included. Try to introduce them to key members of the team in advance. Make sure they know what to expect on the day, what their duties will be, and who they should go to (or who they should contact and how, e.g. by text) if they have problems.

4. Brief Your Team Fully before the Event

If staff feel unprepared, they’re likely to feel stressed. You might think that there’s no problem, so long as everything goes smoothly during the event, but staff members may think differently! High stress levels can be a huge cause of turnover, so make sure you do what you can to help staff feel confident about the event.

Before the day of the event, have a conference call with everyone or send out a document to give details of everything they need to know. As Becki Cross, managing director of the UK company Events Northern Ltd, explains: “This will include practical and logistical information such as what to wear, directions and public transport information, who to ring in case of problems, which entrance to use and who to report to. We also outline their anticipated tasks with a chronological timeline of the day and their responsibilities. Finally, I include a paragraph about our company ethos and brand and what we expect from our staff

5. Seek and Respond to Staff Feedback

You almost certainly ask your attendees for their feedback, but do you ask your events management staff how they thought things went? It’s easy to assume that if people have suggestions or even complaints, they’ll come to you, but some staff won’t speak up without being invited to do so.

Be proactive about seeking feedback. You might want to ask direct questions, like “Is there anything we could do to make things easier for you?” or “What do you like most and what do you like least about your job?”

This feedback may well surprise you. Perhaps you think that staff members don’t like the long hours during live events, but actually they don’t mind at all. Instead, maybe they dislike sudden changes to plans or not having a chance to get to know their colleagues.

6. Give Staff Plenty of Recognition and Praise

We all like to be thanked for a job well done and your staff are definitely no exception. If they feel taken for granted, that may cause them to leave for a new position elsewhere. (If they feel that they only get criticism about things that go wrong, instead of praise about things that go well, then they’re very likely to leave.)

Make sure you recognize the efforts your staff go to, before, during and after events. As well as a verbal “thanks.” Small gestures like a handwritten card or a box of chocolates can make a big difference.

These retention strategies should make it easier to keep great staff members. By making sure they’re happy and by treating them well, you’ll have a fantastic team that stays around for many events to come.

Rupert Jones is a financial independence geek who strongly believes in the power of networking. He spends his time helping people leverage secrets of financial wealth and process to achieve financial freedom.

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From Desert Oases to Manhattan Skylines /news/133496/desert-oases-manhattan-skylines Tue, 18 May 2021 21:00:54 +0000 /?p=133496 New and renovated properties in California and the Northeast, including Hyatt Place NY Chelsea and Casa Cody in Palm Springs, California.

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Kimpton Alton, San Francisco

The newest Kimpton property just opened in the brand’s 比特币的网址hometown. The waterfront hotel brings 248 guest rooms to the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf. A rock-and-roll aesthetic pays homage to the original 1970s building, shown off in the lobby with blond wood, vintage rugs and earthy colors. Music is a focal point, with each guest room housing a classic Victrola record player while a curated vinyl soundtrack infuses common spaces with an eclectic mix of modern sounds. Evoking further harmony is the brand’s green commitment, from recycling Nespresso pods and unused soap to using sustainably harvested wood products.

Hyatt Place NY Chelsea

Set to open this August, the 45-story, 510-room hotel is within walking distance of neighborhood favorites such as Chelsea Market and The Highline. Private events for up to 100 reception-style can be held on The Terrace, accessible year-round thanks to its retractable roof. Equally expansive views will abound in skyline and city-view guest rooms from the 20th floor up. Amenities include a cozy sofa-sleeper in every guest room, a 24-hour gym, 24-hour market, free Wi-Fi and a breakfast bar.

Casa Cody, Palm Springs, California

Casa Cody – Palm Springs, CA

Palm Spring’s oldest operating hotel just reopened after a restoration, marrying its classic adobe hacienda style with fresh modern elements, such as glossy gem-hued tiles and bright peach velvet sofas. Set at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, the 1.5-acre property has 30 accommodations, including four freestanding 比特币的网址homes, many with kitchens, private patios and fireplaces. The onsite Market will serve a light Mediterranean menu, house-baked cookies and bottled beverages. The original 1920s property is walking distance from downtown Palm Springs and has event capacity for up to 200.

Hampton Inn and 比特币的网址homewood Suites Boston Seaport, Massachusetts

The waterfront hotel opened in April with 416 rooms and 6,000 sq. ft. of event space. Stylish, modern decor hearkens to its port location with blues, golds and whites set against warm woods and water-like patterns. Guests will enjoy atypical amenities for such a boutique feel, such as a complimentary hot breakfast and a 24-hour fitness center. Its prime location is less than three blocks away from Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and a short drive from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

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How to Produce a Stand-Out Experience /tips-tools/how-to/133443/how-produce-stand-out-experience Mon, 17 May 2021 23:23:26 +0000 /?p=133443 From communication to selfie stands to a killer emcee, here are some ways you can produce a stand-out experiences for attendees.

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Few industries were more impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than the events industry. Event planners, speakers and attendees all saw their calendars cleared out last March, returning slowly with virtual events and only now showing a glimmer of hope for the return of live conferences.

Like other industries, though, competition for attendance and participation is fierce, so event planners must take a page out of the corporate playbook and focus on attendee experience as a key differentiator.

Competing on price is a loser’s game; just ask the local gas station that has its competitor right across the street. One lowers the price of gas by a penny and the other follows. It eventually ends in an impasse or them both giving away gas for free. Similarly, reducing ticket prices for events has downstream implications on budgets for speakers, entertainment, lighting, food and beverage, giveaways, and other key elements of the experience.

Competing on product is also getting tougher and tougher, as even the most innovative companies in the world—like Uber or Snapchat—eventually get copied.

So what’s left? The experience. And fortunately, the experience is delivered by human beings for human beings, so by definition it will be unique.

Here are some ways you can make attendee experience a differentiator for your next event:


Every time you communicate with customers is an opportunity to create an experience, yet most of the time this critical aspect is ignored or just phoned in. Communication channels include the event website, registration page, confirmation/welcome emails, pre-event instructions, event signage, nametags, programs and table tents.

One particularly overlooked communication channel is the dynamic hold screens that are displayed to the audience before the event begins each day or in between sessions. Are they showing basic animated graphics with boring instrumental music, or a curated video of the cocktail party the night before accompanied by an upbeat, sing-along music playlist?

What is the experience you would prefer as an attendee? That should be the guide for determining the experience as a planner.

A Killer Emcee

Nothing will suck the energy out of a room faster than a dull emcee. Think of the teacher calling attendance (“Bueller? Bueller?”) played by Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If that’s what your emcee is like, the entire vibe of your event will be ruined. The best emcees energize the crowd, keep them attentive and get them excited for the next speaker.

The emcee should generally not be an executive, a vendor or anyone who is not a trained public speaker. It is a critical role in making the experience memorable.

The Best Speakers

Even before the pandemic, corporations were taking a harder look at travel and entertainment expenses and demanding that conference attendees return to the office with actionable learnings. So it’s more important than ever that the speakers at an industry conference keep the audience’s attention and prevent them from reaching for their mobile devices.

Yet too often the speaker selection process is managed by the sales and marketing teams, and it usually identifies people in two major categories–sponsors and big corporate logos.

The sales team wants to fund the event with corporate sponsors, so they offer up speaking opportunities as a “carrot” to those willing to shell out thousands of dollars to have their name on the wall and in the program. The marketing team wants big corporate logos so they can show them to prospective attendees in hopes of impressing them with the quality of other people attending the event.

What’s missing is any filter to determine if these people can actually communicate effectively from the stage.

Public speaking is a developed skill, and it requires the person on stage to maintain the audience’s attention while educating them and hopefully entertaining them at the same time. You wouldn’t want an untrained airplane pilot flying you across the country; why would you want an untrained speaker in front of your paying customers?

The best speakers have a “speaker’s reel” so planners can view actual video of them presenting, have simple slides that put the focus on the speaker rather than tiny, unreadable charts or paragraphs, and a willingness to engage with the audience before, during and after the presentation.

Make It Shareable

The best way to generate buzz about your event is to have those participating share it with friends and business colleagues. So why do so many events make it hard to do so?

Make sure the event hashtag (you do have an event hashtag, right?) is prominently displayed on all signage and in the program. Also be sure to include the speakers’ Twitter handles in the program, in any handouts, and preferably on screen during the presentation. This makes it easier for those of us who love live-tweeting events as a means of taking notes and sharing key takeaways with our social media followers.

Fun design elements like the conference hashtag in giant blocks, or selfie stations with frames and costumes, or screens displaying live social media streams—are additional ways to generate sharing.

What’s At Stake

Remember that customer experience includes every single interaction a customer has with a brand. So for an event, that means the location, transportation, meals (and the lines to get to them), snacks, Wi-Fi, charging stations, networking, entertainment, hotel rooms and swag bags all contribute to the overall attendee experience.

One bad element can ruin an otherwise great experience at a conference and cause an attendee to reconsider returning the next year. But when they all work together to provide a fluid, consistent and remarkable experience, people won’t just return—they’ll bring others with them.

Dan Gingiss is an international keynote speaker, , podcaster and customer experience coach with a 20-year professional background at companies like McDonald’s, Discover and Humana. His newest book is The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share which is releasing in September. For more information. 

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Hybrid: Two Strategies, One Powerful Marketing Product /tips-tools/133484/hybrid-marketing-product Mon, 17 May 2021 23:05:07 +0000 /?p=133484 How can marketers create hybrid events that resonate with physical and virtual attendees while delivering ROI for hosts, sponsors and exhibitors? In this new era, event organizers must develop strategies for each audience.

The post Hybrid: Two Strategies, One Powerful Marketing Product appeared first on Smart Meetings.

As the world opens up and Covid restrictions are lifted, we will not return to business as we knew it before, largely because of lessons we learned about the benefits of communicating digitally. For example, marketers, human resources professionals and event planners will continue to leverage the advantages of virtual communications, including massive logistical efficiencies, the ability to extend the lifecycle of an event and the use of advanced analytics to maximize ROI. So, while events are beginning to offer physical options, the future of events will be inclusive of hybrid events, offering a vibrant digital overlay to the in-person experience.

So, how can marketers create impactful hybrid events that resonate with physical and virtual attendees while delivering ROI for hosts, sponsors and exhibitors? The answer is to understand both your in-person and virtual audiences while creating powerful experiences for both.

Today’s successful hybrid events celebrate and amplify the offline physical event online. In this new era, event organizers must develop strategies for each audience.

Tapping into The Differences

It’s no secret that the bread and butter of virtual events is compelling and engaging content. Without it, attendees lose interest and log out. Physical events, on the other hand, rely on “the experience” and surroundings. With that in mind, event organizers need to marry the best of both of these worlds to create a hybrid event that is enriching and unique to attendees.

Consider speakers for your hybrid event. It goes without saying that keynote speakers often resonate much better in person and, therefore, should likely be giving a presentation from the main stage. With this in mind, consider invitation-only status to influential attendees and speakers for the in-person portion of the event.

When thinking about virtual and in-person attendees collectively, consider offering a few limited sessions to both physical and virtual audiences together while largely focusing on separate sessions for virtual and in-person attendees. The point here is to create the right impact for each audience. In other words, the organizer can zero in on the key stakeholders/attendees in person and make that personal connection while creating top-of-the-funnel leads via the virtual environment.

Integrating Emerging Technology

In recent years, virtual and augmented reality have become increasingly popular and integral to meetings and events, as organizers leverage these technologies to add an experiential dimension for virtual attendees that can enable them to feel immersed in the physical experience.

MoreEvent Tech: Survive and Thrive Guide

Augmented reality, in particular, is easy to execute and can enhance both the speaker and virtual attendee experience in myriad ways. For example, if you are selling or presenting a product through a barcode, you can have the entire product in a physical room—even virtually. What’s more, if you are introducing a new model or design, consider adding in a layer of AR to pique attendees’ interest further.

With the use of a headset, virtual reality can also be used to create a dynamic experience for attendees. With virtual reality, exhibitors can create a virtual room where virtual attendees can see not only the event but also be a part of the physical environment. From a product perspective, VR allows virtual attendees to see beyond the physical assets into its manufacturing, look-and-feel, and user experience—all while participating from the comfort of their 比特币的网址home. Leverage VR to take attendees beyond a product demonstration and create a product experience.

The Future for Hybrid Events

Hybrid events have helped eradicate limitations that came with physical events—limited budgets, resources, time, space, accessibility, availability and more.

As we look ahead, hybrid events are poised to become the backbone and de facto format of the meeting and events industry. Hybrid events bring the ultimate flexibility, cost savings, and reach while allowing brands, sponsors, and exhibitors to capitalize on business objectives and generate maximum event ROI. And, it also has a longer shelf-life; along with capitalizing on the returns of the physical event on the scheduled date, you can still continue capitalizing on the returns of it for the same event virtually for days post it. Today, event platforms also offer you white-glove client success teams that lend support before the event, during the event, and post the event to ensure complete event success, leading to delivering the easiest and most immersive and engaging events that drive business results.

Vaibhav Jain is founder and CEO of the virtual and hybrid event technology company Hubilo. A graduate from Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Vaibhav has 10 years of marketing, operations, finance and sales expertise in the Information Technology sector.

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What Is Unconscious Bias (And How Meeting Planners Can Defeat It) /tips-tools/133480/unconscious-bias-meeting-planners Mon, 17 May 2021 22:48:57 +0000 /?p=133480 How can meeting planners be part of the solution in the movement to defeat unconscious bias? First, you need to know what it is.

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How can meeting planners be part of the solution in the movement to defeat unconscious bias? First, you need to know what it is.

Unconscious bias (also known as implicit bias) refers to unconscious forms of discrimination and stereotyping based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, age and so on. It differs from cognitive bias, which is a predictable pattern of mental errors that result in us misperceiving reality and, as a result, deviating away from the choices that would most likely reach our goals.

Cognitive biases impact all sorts of decisions, not simply the way we evaluate people. For example, as this study reveals, these biases harm our shopping choices as consumers. In other words, from the perspective of what is best for us as individuals, falling for a cognitive bias always harms us by lowering our probability of getting what we want. Despite cognitive biases sometimes leading to discriminatory thinking and feeling patterns, these are two separate and distinct concepts.

See moreHack Your Incentives: The Meeting in Your Attendee’s Head

Cognitive biases are common across humankind and relate to the particular wiring of our brains, while unconscious bias relates to perceptions between different groups and are specific for the society in which we live. For example, I bet you don’t care or even think about whether someone is a noble or a commoner, yet that distinction was fundamentally important a few centuries ago across Europe. To take another example—a geographic instead of one across time—most people in the United States don’t have strong feelings about Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, yet this distinction is incredibly meaningful in many parts of the world.

It’s incumbent for meeting planners both to understand and to overcome unconscious bias. Doing so not only helps you create more inclusive events; it helps you run the business side of meeting planning most successfully.

The most important pair of cognitive biases for meeting planners in addressing unconscious bias are the halo effect and the horns effect. The halo effect refers to the fact that when we like one aspect of someone, we overestimate their other characteristics. Usually this liking stems from a similarity between us and the other person. Conversely, if we dislike one aspect of a person, frequently due to a difference between us and them, we’ll tend to underestimate all of their other characteristics.

Say you’re choosing a caterer. Did you know you’re more likely to select the one whose sales rep you perceive as more aesthetically pleasing even if the sales rep doesn’t do the catering itself? Research suggests you’ll unconsciously find reasons to talk yourself into selecting the person, even if they would not be the first choice by objective measures.

Or say you’re considering how much time and effort to invest into minimizing the prospect for microaggressions toward minority event attendees. Unless you’re a member of that minority, you’re likely to underestimate the impact of such discrimination on the minority attendees. Thus, you’ll misallocate your resources to the detriment of that minority.

Such unconscious bias by meeting planners, or by attendees who discriminate against minority attendees, is often unintentional—that’s why we call it unconscious bias. The discriminatory behavior results from unconscious, implicit thought processes that the meeting planner would not consciously endorse.

Fortunately, research shows that you can overcome these mental blind spots to make the best people decisions. One way to overcome cognitive biases involves using a decision aid, such as this website that narrows our choices to the top 10. An externally-vetted list by a trusted third party, such as a highly credible publication, will minimize the impact of your own unconscious biases.

Another strategy involves specifically focusing on observing differences and similarities between yourself and other people or groups. Notice whether the difference makes you feel more enthusiastic/optimistic/positive toward these people or more cautious/skeptical/negative toward them. Then, as you’re making choices about who to work with or how much resources to invest in each, deliberately lower your estimates of the former and raise your estimates of the latter. This skill gets much easier over time with practice and can help you learn about and address your own unconscious bias as a meeting planner.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally recognized , behavioral economist, cognitive neuroscientist and academic on a mission to instill leaders with the most effective decision-making strategies. He is the of several books, including Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), and has over 550 articles and 450 interviews in publications such as Inc. MagazineEntrepreneur and Fast Company. Contact him and register for his free Wise Decision Maker Course here.

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Event Tech: Survive and Thrive Guide /tips-tools/technology/133474/event-tech-survive-guide Mon, 17 May 2021 22:37:44 +0000 /?p=133474 In the latest Smart Meetings webinar, “Event Tech Survival Guide,” three industry leaders shared stories of problem solving, predictions, and how we can thrive, not just survive.

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They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. But meeting professionals are different: They know what they have, know that it’s liable to change and when (not if!) it does, this resilient pack gets to work.

If further proof was needed, the latest Smart Meetings webinar, “National Council of State Tourism Directors; Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey, CMP, CEO of Nifty Method; and Brandt Krueger, owner of Event Technology Consulting and Smart Meetings events correspondent, shared stories of problem solving, predictions, and how we can thrive, not just survive.

Doing Things Right But Still Coming Up Short

To kick things off, JT Long, moderator and editorial director for Smart Meetings, asked the guests to share event tech horror stories.

Krueger began by recounting a virtual event hiccup that occurred despite doing all the necessary preparations.


Brandt Krueger

I came 比特币的网址home and described to my wife that this was possibly the most stressful thing I’ve done in 20 years. We did everything that we should have. We had backups. We came in the day before. We set everything up. We left everything on. It was one of those things where we did everything you’re supposed to do. The next morning, we came in hours in advance, so that we were all tested and ready to go—and none of the links worked.

We were unable to connect to the platform from our remote location where we were broadcasting. We’re bouncing around from support to support. We were getting a lot of, “Oh, it looks good on our side,” from the platform team. Maybe 10 minutes later one of our computers connects. We’re able to get the livestream up and running, but we’re running on one machine with no backup for most of the morning.


Shameka Jennings

At a two-day virtual conference that I managed, we had yoga on the second day. The yoga began at 10 a.m. We have a yoga instructor on, and everything is ready to go.

As 10 a.m. comes, she moves into position, and all of a sudden, she’s frozen, and we can’t see her. We’re thankful that the day before we had yoga as well, and we recorded the session; I had [IT] replay that session. She was so excited about doing it, and we did not see any of it. I’m a huge fan of prerecording for such a reason.

Prerecorded vs. Simulive vs. Live


As I’ve said, prerecord. Especially when it comes to the big things where you don’t have the technical support. Prerecording those type of sessions and also sessions that might not have a lot of engagement activities, such as yoga.

I don’t fault doing yoga live; that’s what the person I was working with wanted to do. However, since there is not a lot of interactivity, those types of events could be prerecorded. I think that’s the great thing with virtual: People can watch things on their own time.


When we’re looking at the spectrum [of virtual], a lot of it has to do with interaction. A lot of event tech companies that are going to do well are the ones that were doing polling, Q&A and interactivity beforehand, and then added the video capabilities.

It’s not just a matter of getting a platform that has Q&A, polling and things like that. That’s an important part of it, but we want to design connections between the audience; design opportunities for the audiences to interact.


Lindsay Martin-Bilbrey

As a follow up to that, it’s really important to remember the adage, “There’s not one ring to rule them all.” Because an event tech ecosystem for a hybrid event is going to have lots of things going on; you have your broadcast tech, you’ve got your AV tech, you’ve got your community tech. There can be one platform that does maybe 60 or 70 percent, but the ones that are out there advocating that they do it all, and they do it all very well, are lying to you.

Thriving, Not Surviving


One of the things that [Jennings] pointed out earlier is that we are reaching more people than ever. Let’s talk about how this has helped planners—how now that we can measure everything and we have so much data, we’re actually going to thrive and not just survive.


The big fear is that if we start doing more for hybrid and start giving it away for free, [attendees] are not going to come to our events now that they’ve had a taste of what it’s like to stay 比特币的网址home. But the evidence is to the contrary.

What we saw going from year-to-year of putting on hybrid events is that in-person numbers either stayed the same or went up, like, 86 percent of the time. I would argue that the remaining 14 percent were probably the ones where the camera was placed in the back, they called it hybrid, and it was a bad experience [for virtual attendees]. You gave your online audience the worst seat in the house and expected them to be happy with it.


How we’re thriving is with DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion). Providing accessibility is a space that we haven’t talked about; people really haven’t focused on it when it comes to the importance of virtual and hybrid.

We haven’t gotten to a space where people find it worthy to pay out of pocket to go to their meeting. Having this space, and opportunity where people can participate who might not normally have access to the platform or conference they would attend in person, has really made a wealth of difference.

People will get back to going to in person, without a doubt. I’m keeping this virtual space available to those that don’t have the support but still need what’s offered.

Predictions and Surprises


First, I believe the virtual aspect is here to stay. It offers accessibility to attendees who may not have the funding to attend, as well as an easy buy-in for potential attendees to get involved with a meeting without a lot of investment.

Secondly, this is going to be a hospitality family affair. While we see event tech shining to support the transition to virtual and hybrid, I foresee our hotel and CVB friends getting into the action, too, which will make the planning of these meetings a family across the hospitality board. Lastly, there is value in virtual. I predict seeing the use of virtual to build momentum to, during, and after in-person events.

I’ve been surprised by the innovation. Give us planners a bottle of wine, and we can do anything. My prediction for hybrid meetings is how I plan to do them: taking one community in person and one community online and finding the ways that I can tie them together, but still trying to create unique experiences for both parties.


On the event technology side, event apps are going to be the ones to watch. I think that cross-functionality is going to help us bridge as we return to reincorporating our in-person audience. We’re going to see a lot more remote presentations where we’ve got a nice, controlled environment, with lights and cameras. We’re seeing a lot of investments being made in venues to do that in hotels and train stations all over the world.

Lastly, I think we learned over the course of the last year that not every event and meeting needs to be in person. Don’t get me wrong at all, I appreciate and love the in-person events; there will always be in-person events, but we’ve learned not each one needs to be.


Slow and steady is going to win the race. I’ve talked to some very large enterprises that we work with, and they believe hybrid is here to stay. This is not something that’s going away.

Another prediction is communities making a resurgence. Whether you’re a corporation, association or somewhere in between, that aspect of having that 365 experience is going to be a valuable asset. Not just the producers you’ve been working with over the last year, but thinking about the community managers who can tend to seeds that you planted at the in-person, hybrid and virtual events so that the conversation can be 24/7.

My final prediction is that our teams are going to continue to be remote and distributed. Having those pop-up abilities and the ability to talk about your event deeply, as well as widely, is going to be incredibly valuable from a stakeholder perspective.

The thing that surprised me is the resiliency. It’s been said a lot, but we always knew this was a group of people and an industry that could really roll with the punches. You can’t do what we do and not be okay with surprises, even though we hate and try to control for them. But the joy that these people continue to bring, even when things are going terribly, horribly wrong! They are out there supporting and lifting each other up and continuing to make the fabric of our industry stronger.

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