Hey Austin! Congratulations in advance from all of us in Vancouver on hosting the upcoming PCMA Convening Leaders conference. We learned a ton during our own hosting experience, and wanted to share our insights with you. So, without further ado, here are some tips for hosting PCMA Convening Leaders 2017 in both video and checklist form.
- Create an all-star host committee. Here in Vancouver, we are fortunate to have an insanely talented, experienced and personable hospitality industry, so this point was easy. The host committee was responsible for generating event ideas (and then executing them), coordinating logistics, recruiting and motivating volunteers, and much more – so you need to ensure everyone selected to serve on the committee (and its many sub-committees) are the most dedicated, efficient and creative individuals possible.
- Creative marketing. Convening Leaders is a key industry event, but it still has to compete with all the noise inherent in the marketing space. We learned that creativity and well-tailored messaging are key for your marketing efforts to stand out. Since we are serious about creativity in Vancouver, we brought out the big guns for Convening Leaders 2016: small and impossibly cute children who conducted a site inspection of the city, which we packaged into a YouTube-ready video; cheeky and nostalgic invitations to events like our farewell bash house party; and more.
- Prioritize the delegate experience. Nothing is more important when hosting an event than keeping your guests happy, fed and entertained. Vancouver’s hospitality community banded together to pull out all the stops for PCMA Convening Leaders: Vancouver International Airport lit up its control tower in PCMA colours; venues across the city crafted a conference-exclusive Caesar cocktail; we put deep thought into creating opening and closing parties that showcased Vancouver’s young, laidback and sophisticated flare, all while giving delegates experiences that were outside-the-box and memorable; and throughout the event we “surprised and delighted” random attendees via social media so everyone who travelled here for Convening Leaders felt an even more personal connection to us and our city.
- Help PCMA Convening Leaders leave a meaningful legacy. For PCMA’s Hospitality Helping Hands CSR project in Vancouver, we partnered with two at-risk daycares. During the course of one magical morning, 150 volunteers got down and dirty constructing mudpie kitchens, crafting beautiful fence art and painting interiors that needed a desperate face-lift. The volunteers were there to witness one of the daycare’s children seeing her spruced-up school for the first time, and the sheer joy on her face will be imprinted on all of our minds for years to come. Lasting legacies should leave imprints not just on the host city, but also on its people and the delegate volunteers.
- Activate spaces that inspire. Obviously, the majority of conferences is spent in educational seminars, networking and cranking out emails between sessions. And that’s why it’s so important to build a working area that is inspirational, uplifting and stocked with necessary resources. The Vancouver Convention Centre has the inspirational thing down pat with start-of-the-art facilities and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over gorgeous Vancouver harbour – but the host committee also collaborated with Steelcase Event Experiences to set up thoughtfully-designed spaces that encouraged interaction and engagement, and created a plush lounge exclusively for planners called Club604 that featured cushy seats, technology docking stations and a quiet space to reenergize and recharge.
Austin, the Vancouver Team wishes you all the best – and we can’t wait to see what you come up with. We look forward to reuniting with our meetings industry friends and colleagues this January. See you there!