Milestone Development

Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA) Annual Meeting Convening Leaders

The beginning of 2011 brought a refreshing start to the New Year with a trip to Las Vegas to attend the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) Annual Convening Leaders Meeting.

Each year PCMA holds an annual meeting for all its members.   Convening Leaders has long been considered the most important event of the year among meetings industry leaders. This year January 2011, there were approximately 3500 attendees.  Many were conference and meeting planners, and professionals within the conference and seminar industry. There were four days of networking, education and the latest innovations. This conference was designed to help attendees build strong relationships with other meetings, convention, and exhibition professionals, while enhancing their knowledge of the latest trends. There were more than 60 sessions that addressed attendance-building, technology, revenue streams, legal issues and professional development.  This conference is a key source of educational information within the industry.

The meeting offered General Sessions that included presentations to educate and inspire participants;  The Masters Series which were thought provoking perspectives on important business and meetings industry challenges, Breakout Sessions, Certified Meeting Planner Sessions and new this year was the introduction of the Virtual Edge Summit which detailed the growing importance of Virtual Meetings.  As business travel continues to become more and more restricted, virtual online programs have become a critical communication channel for marketing, selling, servicing and supporting your customer and prospect community as well as your employees and partners.

The conference was held at the MGM Grand Hotel. This was a very large hotel in which you needed trainers to get from one end to the other.  Wearing comfortable shoes was a must!  Throughout the hotel there were PMCA conference signage, and particularly unique were the many PCMA assistants holding “Ask Me” signs who were placed strategically in the lobby, by the elevators, at events, and all over the hotel and conference centre walkways.  Due to the hotel’s such grand scale this was very important to avoid getting lost or to ask for assistance or other conference related questions.

The conference was extremely well organized beginning with an orientation for first timers like myself. This session was informative and provided useful information as to how to get through the next few days as easily as possible.  While my expectation was that we would be given a road map through the following 4 days which did not happen, the basics they covered were summarized by eat well, don’t drink too much, wear comfortable shoes and network network network.

Along with informative educational sessions the meeting also provided creative general meetings that were motivational and fun.  The opening show was outstanding with tasty hors d’oeuvres and excellent performances topped off with a deejay and dancing.  Throughout our 4 day stint we were privileged to hear motivating stories from successful people such as: Renee West, President and COO of Luxor Las Vegas and Excalibur Hotel Casino, who shared her remarkable story and the lessons she’s learned along the way up the leadership ladder.  Tony Hsieh, CEO of, shared the story behind this successful online service leader and how they grew their gross merchandise sales from $1.6M in 2000 to over $1 billion in 2008 by focusing relentlessly on customer service. This was a real treat.  Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind, explored what truly motivates us and how we can use that knowledge to work smarter and live better.

Lunch was a particularly dynamic experience of round table networking with 3000+ attendees seated for lunch and presentations.  This was well coordinated and was pulled off effortlessly as if it was choreographed as part of a dance routine.

After the 4 days of networking and educational sessions I was able to take back home, new potential partnerships, new friendships and most importantly valuable information that I will now apply to Milestone Development to further our growth.

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