My 3 favourite sessions of #WEC12 : what are yours?

At this moment MPI’s World Education Congress is taking place in St. Louis, Missouri. Unfortunately I am not able to attend personally, but I am having a great time following the hash-tag #WEC12 . While following the stream, I started browsing the educational programme and asked myself: what would have been my ‘must attend’ sessions if I could have been there?

These are my top 3 picks (+ 1 bonus!). Please let me know what your favourite sessions are, were or would have been!

1. Meeting Pros Are from Mars, Attendees Are from Venus: Techniques for Creating a Remarkable Hybrid Event

Why favourite?
Hybrid events have a bright future! They provide an answer to many challenges our industry faces today: it can reduce CO2 emissions by eliminating travel, it helps you leverage the power of Social Networks and it calls for innovative meeting design. That is why I believe this is an important session to attend. And I must admit, a little chauvinism comes into play too: Dutchman Ruud Janssen participates as a ‘remote speaker’.

Session description:
When it comes to “Creating the New Connectivity” through hybrid events, it seems that meeting organizers and attendees may hail from two entirely different planets. Indeed, the phrase “going hybrid” is becoming increasingly common in the meetings & events industry, but meeting professionals and attendees typically interpret it differently, with conflicting meanings, criteria and expectations. To complicate matters, there hasn’t been a data-driven roadmap for the successful development of hybrid-event strategies, goals and objectives — until now.

The MPI Foundation, in partnership with Mediasite Events, recently completed the most comprehensive study ever conducted on hybrid meetings. This session will reveal key insights gained from this study; and help participants understand how the most common obstacles to executing a successful hybrid event are often the result of differing expectations between organizer and attendee.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Use techniques that organizers and attendees agree make for remarkable hybrid events
  2. Gain insights on types of technology, engagement and event formats that work best for hybrid meetings
  3. Identify a skill set that should be assembled and built into partnerships to ensure hybrid event success

Samuel Smith, Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC
Ruud Janssen, TNOC The New Objective Collective (remote speaker from Switzerland)
Erica St. Angel, Erica, Sonic Foundry
Steph Pfeilsticker, Thrivent Financial

Monday, July 30 | 9-10 am CST | 16:00 – 17:00 Central European Time

2. Unconferences and Open Spaces: Designing Participatory Events to Create Real Connections

Why favourite?
Innovative meeting design is key to the success of your meeting! Most of us have come to understand that we need different learning styles to get our message remembered. Yet, there are still so many ‘sit & listen’ type of events. I hope this session will bring inspiration and energy to do it in a different way.

Session description:
People often remark that the most useful learning at a conference or event happens in the halls and during the coffee breaks, when people are able to talk about their individual interests and connect with each other on a personal level. So why leave those learning opportunities to chance?

It’s possible to design events and conferences in ways that place the dynamics of informal learning and networking at the center of the action instead of leaving it to chance in the hallways and during the breaks, so that participants can connect with colleagues in meaningful ways and engage in serious conversations about topics of personal interest. “Unconferences” and “open space” meetings are structured as participatory, self-organized events for groups ranging in size from 20 to 300 participants.

Attendees of this session will learn methods for organizing such events and experience what “Creating the New Connectivity” is like in an “unconferenced” setting. This is a participatory workshop; attendees will be asked to engage in a series of structured conversations in small groups.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Understand how traditional conference designs can actually impede real, useful connections
  2. Employ alternative methods to organize conferences and meetings and maximize connections
  3. Participate in an “unconference” experience

Mischa Glouberman, Collective Intelligence

Monday, July 30, 2012 | 2:30 – 3:30 PM CST | 21:30 – 22:30 Central European Time

3. Firing Up the CVB Sales Forces: An Inside-Out Approach to the CVB Industry Brand Promise

Why favourite?
Well, I am part of a CVB, so it speaks for itself that this session has my interest…

Session description:
In partnership with the MPI Foundation, DMAI has acquired planner feedback which explicitly indicates there is still a lack of knowledge, confusion, and many misperceptions about the CVB channel and our true value as planning partners. There is a cry for consistency across our channel, and it is time to fulfil a unified CVB brand promise and gain clear articulation of our unique value proposition to planners. Undoubtedly, we are uniquely positioned to be the best at helping planners find the right fit for their meetings because of our local expertise, our extensive in-market relationships, and our comprehensive view of our destinations, and we need to do a better job of communicating our mission!

This session will employ our sales force with a collective language and a singular voice in the meeting’s marketplace. This consistency will play a major role in securing the future relevancy and success of the CVBs.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Understand planner feedback collected by DMAI & MPI Foundation through extensive planner sessions and surveys
  2. Be educated on the CVB Brand Promise and Unique Value Proposition
  3. Be armed with tools to be proactive planner educators and work “peer to peer” to better inform planners on the value you provide

Terri Roberts, Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI)

Monday, July 30, 2012 | 2:30 – 3:30 PM CST | 21:30 – 22:30 Central European Time

Bonus: WEC for me

Why favourite?
This is a great initiative! I completely recognize the problem Midori and Jessica are trying to tackle. And I think they do it in a very nice way. Midori said after the session: “It was an AMAZING session that we are now taking on the road as ‘Not your momma’s conference orientation'”. Good luck ladies!

Session description:
Have you ever looked at a conference schedule after an event and wondered how you missed all the best stuff? Well, MPI knows how you feel. Our hope is that you won’t just attend WEC, but Explore it!

In order to maximize your ROI onsite at WEC, you need to be aware of the opportunities that surround you as well as how to take advantage of them in a way that is unique to your needs and wants. So this year we’ve designed a brand new experience to help you build your own WEC story. This session will help you understand the benefits of attending and why you need to connect in St. Louis.

On Saturday, July 28th from 4pm – 6pm, we’re hosting WEC For Me, your opportunity to learn about the innovative ways you can learn and network outside of the classroom and traditional learning experiences. Through an interactive and personalized process, we will walk you through these offerings and allow you to choose the areas of most value to you. Then, via guided tours, you will explore the many different areas as you build your WEC experience. Take advantage of this time on the schedule where you’re not competing with education sessions, contact hours or connecting with potential partners in MarketSquare or Hosted Buyer. This low-risk opportunity is your chance to explore all WEC has to offer and help you maximize your schedule through the remainder of the event, as well as getting to know fellow attendees along the way.

Some of the areas and offerings you’ll be encouraged to visit and explore include: the HIVE, the Hub, social events, the event app, MPI Store and many others.

Midori Connolly, Pulse Staging and Events
Jessica Levin, 7 degrees communications

Saturday, July 28, 2012 / 4:00 – 6:00 PM CST | 1:00 – 3:00 Central European Time

What is your favourite pick?

Would love to hear in the comments if you agree or disagree with my favourites. Or please add your own personal favourite too!

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