Individualization on an International Scale at INACSL’s Annual Conference

By Meredith Parker, Account Associate

Around the IMI Office, summer is known as a time when we have the most staff birthdays, the most creative fun committee events, and the most hectic office environment. During these months, our staff is in a constant flurry of activity, with groups in varying stages of preparing for, facilitating, or debriefing from client events held all over North America.

One of IMI’s largest clients, The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) has close to 2,000 members spread across the world. Each year since 2006, it has held an Annual Conference with about 800 attendees. Because much of INACSL’s membership is American, all of its conferences have been held in the United States; that is, until this year. In 2018, in line with its international focus and in order to recognize its significant number of Canadian members, INACSL’s signature event was held in Toronto, Canada.

Though Toronto is just a hop over the national border between the United States and Canada, INACSL anticipated that its conference would host many first-time attendees because some of its regular, United States-based attendees would be unable to obtain funding for international travel. Also, INACSL knew from past conference feedback that one of the highest-rated benefits of their conference is networking opportunities. With these factors in mind, INACSL developed ideas to help each of the 500+ conference attendees feel individually touched.

First, INACSL created Canada House as a “home away from home” for attendees. During the conference, Canada House hosted light snacks and beverages during breaks, information about restaurants and activities in Toronto, and giveaways like Canadian themed gift baskets and maple syrup – some which were free for all and some which had to be won through games or raffles. Decorated with Adirondack chairs, pictures from around Canada, and the extremely-popular cutout of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada House became a popular stop for attendees throughout the conference as a place to grab a quick cup of coffee, gather information about local sights, and a rendezvous point for casual or organized outings, including a run/walk exercise group that met each morning.

In addition to providing Canada House as a nexus for conference social activities, the INACSL team created specific opportunities for conference-goers to connect outside of educational sessions. One of these opportunities was pay-your-own-way dinners out. Before the conference, INACSL made six-person reservations at area restaurants for several nights of the event. On-site, they provided sign-up sheets for individuals to claim one of five spots on any reservation, with the sixth spot held by a someone from their Membership Committee. These groups would meet at Canada House, walk to the specified restaurant, and enjoy dinner together. This idea was a hit with conference attendees, especially those who traveled to the conference alone as first time attendees, because it provided a low-pressure way to meet other people in the same situation, get out of the hotel, and experience Toronto culture. In addition, because there was an experienced INACSL member at each dinner, there was a helpful resource for any conference or INACSL-related questions.

The INACSL Annual Conference, 2018 was a huge success – and the INACSL Team’s eye for individualization played a key role in making attendees feel welcomed, engaged, and ready to learn.

What strategies have you used to engage attendees at a large conference? Comment below.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

3 Ways to Avoid Convention Staff Burnout – At Conference

2015-11-17 burnout - during
Image Credit: Canva

By Jessica Garrett, Conference Manager

Burnout: It happens to all of us. The longer hours put in before the conference lead up to even longer hours on-site. Multiple site visits mean not sleeping in your own bed along with changes in your eating habits and generally being off of your schedule. All of these together can quickly add up to staff burnout. With burnout, you become more than just physically exhausted; it leaves you emotionally and mentally drained as well. But burnout doesn’t have to be a fact of life for convention staff. With careful planning and mindful preparation you can work towards a smoother, better conference season.

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout – During the Conference

Sleep is critical … if you can get it. You’re sleeping in an unfamiliar bed with unfamiliar sounds and you’re probably stressed about a million things that could potentially happen the next day. You also have to worry about missing your 5 am (or earlier) wake-up call. Use the first night to get acclimated to your room so hopefully you can sleep better the rest of the week. Adequate amounts of sleep will not only give you energy to last through the long days, but also helps recharge a positive outlook.

Keep your caffeine intake in check. You’re tired so your first thought is to have an extra cup of coffee or can of soda. It may not kick in as soon as you need it so you pound another one. Next thing you know you’ve had more caffeine in one day then you should have in a week. Increase your water intake instead. I used to always carry a water bottle but found I wasn’t drinking as much as I normally do so I’ve found it helpful to find times throughout the day where I can drink 8 – 12 ounces in one sitting. Find what system works best for you to stay hydrated and refreshed.

Know that you can’t control everything. There will be mishaps and attendees may get upset with you. In the moment it may be hard to keep your cool but afterwards take a deep breath, take a 5 minute walk and get back in there. You can’t control everything, so how you deal with the situations that arise and how you let it affect you is the important part. Don’t let the stress eat away at you. Focus on what is going well! Allow yourself to celebrate the “small” victories, too. They add up.

Don’t forget to check out our pre-conference tips for avoiding burnout!

What are your tips for avoiding burnout during an event? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

3 Ways to Avoid Convention Staff Burnout – Pre-Conference

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Jessica Garrett, Conference Manager

Burnout: It happens to all of us. The longer hours put in before the conference lead up to even longer hours on-site. Multiple site visits mean not sleeping in your own bed along with changes in your eating habits and generally being off of your schedule. All of these together can quickly add up to staff burnout. With burnout, you become more than just physically exhausted; it leaves you emotionally and mentally drained as well. But burnout doesn’t have to be a fact of life for convention staff. With careful planning and mindful preparation you can work towards a smoother, better conference season.

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout – Pre-Conference

Plan ahead and get tasks done early. Of course, there are always going to be things that cannot be done until the week or two weeks before the conference. For everything else, get it done as early as possible so you are not bogged down with additional tasks the week before. Track tasks in a spreadsheet or use a program like Basecamp to help keep projects moving well in advance of deadlines.

Catch up on your sleep and stick to your nutrition habits as closely as possible. If you know you’re going to need to stay later at the office, plan ahead and bring extra snacks or dinner to heat in the microwave. No one particularly likes to eat multiple meals at the office in one day but it’s better than fast food at 9 pm on your way home. Try to go to bed at your normal time when at all possible. You may get a little behind on your favorite TV show, but just know there’s a DVR/Hulu/Netflix binge in your near future.

Get your personal affairs in order the week before. Pick your outfits and start packing for the conference in advance. You don’t want to stay up late packing and frantically doing laundry the night before your trip! Catch up on laundry before you leave so you are not coming home to chaos. If you are the main cook in your household, stock your freezer with pre-made, ready-made foods so you’re not stressed or hearing complaints while you’re gone.

Stay tuned for more tips on avoiding conference burnout!

What are your tips for avoiding burnout in the weeks leading up to an event? Let us know if the comments below.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

5 Must-Pack Items for Conferences

Image Credit: By Israel Sundseth

By Valerie Sprague, AMS Manager

When attending a conference, there are a few must-have items that are essential for a smooth and successful trip. From staying connected to looking out for your own personal comfort, here are some items you don’t want to leave home without.

  1. Devices and  chargers. Don’t forget those all-important devices (think laptop, cell phone, tablet, etc.); and also remember to pack those chargers for your numerous devices you will be using at a conference. A laptop left at your office or the cell phone charger still plugged into your wall at home could turn into a big conference fail!
  2. Something warm to wear. Meeting rooms and conference centers can run cold. It’s always best to be prepared with a warmer item, such as a sweater, that you can easily carry around with you and throw on should the temperatures drop in the meeting room.
  3. Comfortable shoes. Generally, conferences will involve a lot of walking or time spent on your feet. Be it walking through airports, socializing at a network event, traveling between meeting rooms at a venue or walking an exhibit hall – you will likely be on your feet a lot! So keep this in mind when packing shoes. Also, remember, it’s probably not a good idea to try out a brand new pair of shoes at a conference but, if you must, pack some adhesive bandages too.
  4. Business cards. You’ll probably want to have business cards on you when meeting new contacts, so make sure these get packed as an essential item. You never know who you will meet and it’s a great way to stay in contact even after the event.
  5. Travel bag. Don’t forget a lightweight travel bag, tote bag or backpack to carry all of the above! This will make it easy to have everything on you and stay organized when actually attending the big event.

Being prepared with these crucial items will help ensure you are prepared for your next conference experience!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Theft Prevention Measures at Conferences

Image Credit: By Alejandro Escamilla
Image Credit: By Alejandro Escamilla

By Valerie Sprague, AMS Manager

Things can get hectic when attending or working onsite at a conference, not to mention the numerous distractions you encounter. In the blink of an eye someone can grab an unattended item (i.e. laptop, mobile device, etc.) for which your chances of recovery may be very small. You might feel a false sense of security while among your peers at a conference but you can’t forget about all of the other individuals who might be walking around a hotel or conference center.

Here are some tips on theft prevention measures to take while traveling to or attending a conference:

  • Do not leave your device(s) unattended. This may seem like common sense but it’s so easy to think “I’ll be right back” or “I’m just stepping away for a second.” Don’t risk that your device(s) aren’t where you left them when you return from a quick coffee break or a trip to the restroom.
  • Use a theft deterrent device. Consider purchasing a theft deterrent device for extra safety and security. Something like a cable security lock for a laptop would be a good investment that allows you to easily secure your laptop to a fixed item which will hopefully deter any theft attempts. Just don’t forget to hold on to the key!
  • Secure your device(s) in a locked room when not in use. Make sure to keep rooms, such as your conference storage space, locked when you are not present. Especially overnight if this is where you opt to store your device(s) when registration is closed. The same thing applies to leaving them in your hotel room unattended. It might be a good idea to use that cable lock, an available hotel room safe or to just keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room while you’re out so that nobody enters your room unexpectedly.
  • Be vigilant when traveling with your device(s). Don’t forget your laptop when packing your bag up after going through security. Also make sure not to let your travel bag with your devices out of your sight when in the airport. Don’t leave it in the overhead bin of the plane either! The same reminders apply with transportation methods while traveling, such as taxi cabs and airport shuttles.
  • Protect your data. Make sure to password protect all of your devices using strong passwords. And when able, encrypt your local files and folders; or consider storing these sensitive documents someplace other than on your device while traveling (i.e. Dropbox). In the event your device does end up in the hands of someone it shouldn’t, you will want these added layers of security. And you will also want to consider making a back-up of the data from your device prior to traveling.

Remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Top Sessions and Speakers at ASAE

Image Credit: Canva
Image Credit: Canva

By Linda Owens, CAE, Owner and President

We at IMI were proud to send four staff members to this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, Mich. With such a large team in attendance, we were able to take advantage of a variety of sessions to get a good taste of what ASAE had to offer at this year’s conference.

These are the top speakers and sessions that our staff found to be dynamic, informative and memorable. Whether you are scoping out potential speakers for an upcoming conference or looking for educational resources, this post is for you.

Our Top Speakers and Sessions at ASAE

Post-Conference Workshop: Executive Leadership Program

Speaker: Jared D. Harris, faculty member at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a Senior Fellow at Darden’s Olsson Center for Applied Ethics

Comments: This was by far my favorite session out of all the sessions I have attended over the past eight ASAE Annual Meetings. If ASAE partners again with the Darden School of Business for future sessions I will be there! Workshop participants were presented with two real-life business situations which presented an opportunity for us to test our mastery of techniques and to refine our business judgment. This workshop definitely helped me improve my way of thinking about business situations.

Executive Committees: Do’s, Don’ts and Damage Controls

Speakers: Glenn Tecker, ADHD, DsLx , Chairman and Co-CEO, Tecker International LLC; Andy Clarke , CAE, former President, League of American Bicyclists; Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE, CMC, CPC, CCRC , Founder, President & CEO, The Leaders Haven

Comments: I attended this session after finding one of Glenn Tecker’s books to be extremely helpful , so this session was a “must attend” on my list. I found the session to be interactive and had to chuckle at the two scenarios which were presented for consideration on how to navigate and how to prevent a similar scenario from happening.

10 Must-Dos to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Speaker: Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Esq., partner, Venable LLP

Comments: This session was like drinking from an intellectual property firehose. It was a very fast moving session with lots of takeaways!

Ignite

Speakers: Tammy Barnes, Director, Operations State Advocacy, American Psychological Association; John Ganoe, CAE, Executive Director, Community Association Managers International Certification Board; Tracy King, MA, CAE, Principal & Founder, InspirEd, LLC; Jakub Konysz, MA, CAE, Manager, Strategic Global Initiatives, American Chemical Society; Conor McNulty, CAE, Executive Director, Oregon Dental Association; Mark Milroy, CAE, Vice President, Learning, ASAE; Stefanie Reeves, MA, CAE, Executive Director, Maryland Psychological Association; Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated; Catherine Wemette, CAE, Chief Goodness Officer, Good for the Soul; Beth Z. Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

Comments: The IGNITE session was my favorite! It’s the learning format that’s fast, fun, and focused where each speaker gets 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds, for five minutes total. The concept is really cool, and it kept it interesting, fresh, and sometimes funny when the slides advanced before the speaker was ready. I wrote down lots of good quotes and quips from the session, but I think that the overarching theme of the session, “enlighten us, but make it quick”, was probably my favorite. I’m looking for ways to bring this into my meetings.

Reggie Henry

Reggie Henry, ASAE’s Chief information Officer spoke at a CEO Power Breakfast hosted by Fort Worth CVB. Reggie was a dynamic and engaging speaker. The focus of his session was how advances in technology are changing the way we work and live. Then he shared insights on how particular technology can be used to change the way associations provide content and services to member in order to remain relevant. This session was not one of the regularly scheduled ASAE events. However, if your membership profile has you listed as a CEO of your organization you should receive an invitation to the session directly from the Fort Worth CVB.

Jeff Hurt

Jeff Hurt, EVP with Velvet Chainsaw Consulting led the session Strengthen Your Strategic Thinking Muscles To Become A Better Leader. Jeff tangled with a difficult subject – strategic thinking – to really focus on how thinking more strategically can help us become better leaders. In the process he distilled and defined strategic thinking and provided a plethora of engaging activities for the audience all in a 30 minute session.

Deedre Daniel

Deedre Daniel, Director of Partnership Marketing with GEICO spoke again this year at ASAE. Last year I loved her dynamic and engaging session on LinkedIn. This year she not only provided her insights at a session on her own (Learn to Share or Your Bottom Line will get Spanked), she teamed up with some heavy hitters to present Selling to Association. Deedra is definitely a presenter to watch.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Make Your RFP Work for You

Image Credit: Lucas Theis
Image Credit: Lucas Theis

By Lee Campbell, Executive Director & Director of Conference

These ideas are inspired by the session “RFP Reconstructed” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 11, 2014, presented by Rachel Benedick, Mary Kreins, Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki.

If you are an event planner you know the Request for Proposal (RFP) is one of the most important documents in your arsenal and its contents can make or break your event.

Here are a few tips on making sure your RFP is as ready as you are.

Make Sure the RFP is Complete

Hotels need complete information about an organization’s conference program in order to offer the best proposal. Be thorough, but be concise.

It’s important to accurately reflect your conference program, needs, and budget. The hotel team will review all aspects of your information from the RFP to determine if your program is a good fit for the hotel, and vice versa.

Don’t Forget to Include Your History and Expectations

  • Organizational goals (e.g. What does your organization hope to gain from the event? How will you measure success?)
  • Expected number of attendees and the demographics of your group
  • History of the organization’s conferences the last 3 years
    • Hotel and city locations
    • Sleeping room pickups
    • Food & Beverage history
  • List of the expected and requested concessions
  • Date pattern
  • 3rd Party Information (will you secure your own AV Companies and Tradeshow Decorator Companies?)

Make Good Connections

Did you know? EmpowerMINT.com is a resource that hotels will check to investigate an organization’s history to determine if a partnership will be a good fit. Organizations can also use this site to register an official RFP document in order to connect with hotels.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

Using QR Codes for Event Planning

By Whitney Bertram, Operations Manager

What is a QR code?

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode). A barcode is an optically machine-readable label that is attached to an item and that records information related to that item.

The QR Code system has become popular due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, general marketing and more.

A QR code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square grid on a white background, which can be read by an imaging device (such as a camera) and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction until the image can be appropriately interpreted; data is then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image.

Free QR code generators

How to utilize QR codes during your events

  • Schedule & Program Information. QR code on a name badge or the paper program that links to the schedule or program information
  • Tradeshow Booths. Exhibitors can have a QR code at their booth that attendees can use to get further information about their company.
  • Business Cards. Add a QR to your business card so people can download your information to their phone.
  • Conference Handouts. Add a QR code to a sign posted outside of the session that can be used to download course notes or relevant web pages.
  • Put a QR sign up at an event so people can access the event survey on their phones.
  • Social Media. Post a sign at the registration desk that has QR codes that link to the association’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • Scavenger Hunt. Host a QR code-based scavenger hunt during an event.

QR Code Example Name BadgeTips

  • Include instructions on how to download the QR reader app and how to scan the QR code.
  • Make sure you have a mobile-friendly site to direct people to.
  • Before you decide to include a QR code, determine if it will add value.
  • Instead of a QR code, a link would be more useful on a website or electronic marketing piece. It’s far more convenient to click a link on a website than to get out your phone, open an app, scan a QR code, and read the site from your phone.
  • Don’t use QR codes where there is no Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
  • Don’t rely on the QR code as the only source for attendees to get more information.

Related Articles

http://www.smartmeetings.com/event-planning-magazine/2011/07/qr-codes-and-beyond

http://www.spyderlynk.com/ – The new QR code.

http://en.wikipedia.or
g/wiki/Near_field_communication – Beyond the QR code.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.