PCMA’s 59th annual Convening Leaders conference, held at Chicago’s McCormick Place West, set an attendance record by attracting 4,128 attendees.
Carrying the theme “Make No Little Plans” and designed to embrace the spirit of innovation and risk-taking, according to PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton, the annual conference served as a laboratory of sorts for its meeting planner attendees, who experienced a variety of new meeting formats and ideas over the four-day event.
A major feature of the laboratory concept was the ever-evolving Learning Lounge area, which was launched at Convening Leaders’ 2011 show in Las Vegas.
The current edition, sponsored by Freeman, featured a mix of education styles, from group discussions and issues-focused roundtable-style presentations to hands-on opportunities and participatory whiteboard sessions.
The Learning Lounge was divided into two large sections separated by The PCMA Park, a networking area where attendees could get a free professional headshot courtesy of Chuck Fazio’s HeadShotLOUNGE and learn more about the association.
The primary Learning Lounge zones were labeled Operational Strategy, Meeting & Experience Design and TechCentral, and were further split into areas dedicated to technology, wellness, globalization, event design, hybrid meetings and emerging leaders.
A large Main Stage featured roundtable-style sessions dedicated to exploring the big issues facing the industry, such as the emergence of online housing engine Airbnb—which, with 1 million listings, is now the largest hospitality company in the world—reshuffling the hotel landscape. The Spotlight Theater, on the opposite side of the Learning Lounge, hosted similar sessions, but on a smaller scale.
New this year, and further serving its mission to be an education-focused event in both a face-to-face and online fashion, PCMA made recordings of select sessions available free of charge on its website (www.pcma.org) for 60 days following the event, after which time there is a charge for viewing; CEU credits are available.