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BIG IDEA #4 – Gamification

Contributed by Anonymous

Concept: Gamification – Start pre-conference to juice creative, build anticipation and contribute to the program, have participates share results and judged live, on-site [think shark tank]:

Describe the problem, challenge or industry need that the project addresses:

In everyday life, people are constantly on their phones or tablets playing games as a way to interact with their friends and family or using social media to check in at various locations.  Planners are using gamification as a way to increase their attendee motivation engagement from pre-conference through post event.  It can help increase attendance at sessions, networking and social interactions and can help the attendee feel invested in the event.  It’s a way to help ensure that they’re active participants.  By creating a point system or prizes, you can attempt to influence attendee behavior by encouraging them to attend certain sessions or visit specific sponsor booths.

Explain your key proposed activities and strategies that correspond to the problem above:

Using gamifcation during pre-conference would juice creative ideas, build anticipation and contribute to the program. At the completion of the gamification, the participants would share their results live in real-time.  The judges would select the winner on-site (think shark tank).  The judges would be leaders from outside the industry. After the conference provide all the best practices & solutions with attendees and let them vote to win a tool or product association with the challenge or topic.

PCMA members GO HERE TO VOTE for your favorite BIG IDEA.

BIG IDEA #5 – Global Convention Center Design Competition

Contributed by Anonymous

Concept: Global competition for meeting planners and architects to design the convention center of the future, with constant customizable space.

Describe the problem, challenge or industry need that the project addresses:

The landscape of adult learning, interaction, and networking is radically evolving and will continue to do so.  Yet the facilities that meetings and event planners rely upon, especially convention/congress centers in the context of large gatherings, are to varying degrees, constrained.  In a world defined by customization is it possible to create a vision for the future on how responsive, flexible, and tailored a building could be?

Explain your key proposed activities and strategies that correspond to the problem above:

Meeting planners and architects would design the convention center of the future, with constant customizable space.
There would be an online ability to build and change the space based on each individual conference’s needs.

Most venues appreciate input from the full range of clients they work with and the design skill is building in the flexibility to achieve the best potential for all needs and variety of events whilst containing this within a good looking structure that benefits the local environment and community as the local population are “users” as well.

They have to look at it even if they don’t work with it, the events that run in it or the people who attend them.  Increasingly, the plans have to allow for technology development which moves so fast and have the capacities to expand to accommodate these changes.

PCMA members GO HERE TO VOTE for your favorite BIG IDEA.

BIG IDEA #3 – Hybrid Virtual Integration

Contributed by Stef Pfeilsticker, Jim Russell and Cassandra Smoot

Concept: Hybrid Virtual Integration – connecting a F2F attendee to virtual attendee:

Describe the problem, challenge or industry need that the project addresses:

Meeting professionals employ hybrid event technologies to share content, ideas and experiences with attendees across multiple geographies and time zones. Hybrid meetings are a still-emerging media, and most meeting professionals don’t have experience using this model yet. But those who do have significant experience in hybrid are more likely to exceed their objectives. As meeting professionals continue to experiment with hybrid meetings, they will find new opportunities—new types of hospitality and logistics as well as new content management services.

Explain your key proposed activities and strategies that correspond to the problem above:

The purpose of a Hybrid Virtual Integration (HVI) is to connect a face to face attendee with a virtual attendee – 1:1, in real-time, to share their experiences together.

Another possibility is Mobile integration and chats [possibly video] between all attendees – A buddy-type system that would allow interaction during live sessions. This technology would enable the leveraging of the attendee’s devices to interact with one another and the presenters to enhance the engagement for everyone.  It would permit a behind-the-scenes view of what is happening during the event.  The HVI would allow for attendees to review material in real-time and have a running dialogue with throughout the event.

PCMA members GO HERE TO VOTE for your favorite BIG IDEA.

BIG IDEA #2 – Universal Name Badge

Contributed by Alisha Waid and Colleen Donohoe

Concept: Universal Name Badge – tied to the individual rather than the event, with interaction and connectivity.

Describe the problem, challenge or industry need that the project addresses:

For meetings and events the name badge offers the ability to track actual attendance.  An attendee’s presence is recorded at the time the badge holder is picked up.  This allows for the meeting planner to record an attendee’s actual presence and pre-registration figures as historical data.  The current name badge is limited in its use and is not environmentally friendly.  There is a limited ability to track data on attendee engagement.

Explain your key proposed activities and strategies that correspond to the problem above:

The development of a Universal Name Badge(UNB) used for meetings and events offers a myriad of possibilities.  The UNB would be personalized for the individual attendee and programmed specifically for each meeting.  The badge would be bracelet style and allow the attendee to recognize people as they attend sessions walk and displays their information.  It would also allow for the exchange of contact information between attendees.  The name badge would be connected to an app to monitor and measure the number of contacts and interactions.  If an attendee recognizes a familiar face, the app would have historical information available on the attendance at previous events.  A review of the data stored in the app would enable the attendees to identify the last meeting they both attended.

The technology behind the UNB would be integrated with social media profiles, e.g. LinkedIn and would capture and track CEUs.  The UNB would have similar characteristics to Disney’s Magicbands which allows the user to check-in to an education session.    Eliminating the need for paper tickets, the UNB would allow the user access to pre-paid special events such as a gala.

The true power of this technology is the capacity to collect a variety of data.  The meeting planner would be able to access a detailed attendance report for education sessions, track the number of business leads, and the business-related connections. This data is important for the meeting manager in presenting the value of the event to their employer.  For the attendee, this information recaps and provides an awareness of their activity during the meeting.

The UNB offers a branding opportunity at each conference and for the sponsoring organization.  Young professionals using the UNB during large networking events would be able to identify industry leaders or mentors which would enhance their experience.

PCMA members GO HERE TO VOTE for your favorite BIG IDEA.

BIG IDEA #1 – Reality TV Show

Contributed by Elisa Sandoval, Jennifer Bond, Patricia Schinelhem and Ray Kopcinski

Concept: Reality TV Show – putting a spotlight on the industry that will enhance the understanding of our value:

Describe the problem, challenge or industry need that the project addresses:

Meetings and conferences are serious business.   Meetings professionals create value through learning experiences and face to face interactions for members and stakeholders, and generate revenue to support an organization’s financial goals.    The question is how does the meetings management industry provide the outside world with insights into the vital role a meeting manager has in the planning and execution of meaningful learning experiences for attendees?

Explain your key proposed activities and strategies that correspond to the problem above:

The answer to the question above, is a reality TV show!  The reality TV show would provide a behind the scenes look at how large events are planned and executed along with the impact on the community or city where the meeting was held.  Well known industry advocates such as Christine Duffy or Roger Rickard can engage prominent politicians who will validate the number of lives touched and the economic impact.  Following a $10 bill from a conference attendee as it changes hands throughout the local community demonstrates how the meetings industry is integral in the supporting the various social classes.

PCMA members GO HERE TO VOTE for your favorite BIG IDEA.

Why BIG IDEAS Matter: Channeling Disruptive Thinking for Your Next Event

June 2014

By Christopher Durso

Incremental change is a dead end. To achieve something truly new and different, business expert Luke Williams says, you have to be disruptive.

Innovative? Creative? Progressive? That’s for amateurs. If you want to effect real change, according to Luke Williams, you have to get disruptive.

“I’m not talking about little tweaks here and there,” Williams writes in Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business. “I’m talking about a way of thinking that surprises the market again and again with exciting, unexpected solutions. A way of thinking that produces an unconventional strategy that leaves competitors scrambling to catch up. A way of thinking that turns consumer expectations upside-down and takes an industry into its next generation. It’s what I call disruptive thinking.”

See Also: PCMA Education Conference

Executive director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at New York University’s Stern School of Business, Williams will deliver the Closing General Session — brought to you by Meet Puerto Rico — at the PCMA Education Conference in Toronto this month. Recently he talked to Convene about busting the myth of small-scale innovation, embracing disruptive hypotheses, and rooting out the clichés of meeting planning.

Does disruptive thinking have to happen at a
particular scale?

It can happen at any scale. I think one of the common misconceptions is that disruptive thinking is something that is best done by startups, small-scale enterprises. And my message is that we have to bust that myth. This is a style of thinking that can be applied just as effectively by large-scale organizations. Startups or small-scale enterprises have a little bit of an advantage because they can be a bit more nimble, but if large-scale organizations embrace the process and set it in motion, they can have tremendous results.

The other part of that question is, disruptive innovations never start large-scale in terms of market. If you’ve got a disruptive idea, you never go to your internal stakeholders or investors saying, “You know, this is going to be huge. We’re going to tap the mainstream market, the middle of the bell curve.” They always start at the edge of that bell curve, which in academic terms is the “diffusion of innovations”; it’s defined as the early adopters. In non-academic terms, these are the people that love change, they love wanting to experiment with new things. They’re the bit you’ve got to target initially, and you’ve got to get them excited. They’ll help you improve the solution, and they’ll help you spread the solution to the mass market.

How do you balance between disruptive thinking that is appropriate and necessary versus disruptive thinking that is just disruptive for its own sake?

Well, this is a critical point, and this is why the device of coming up with a “disruptive hypothesis” is so important. When you hear the word hypothesis, most people think of the scientific method, because that’s where the definition comes from — you make a reasonable prediction that you can then test to validate. So, if I had a blank screen on my cell phone, I would make a reasonable prediction that the battery is flat. I would then plug it in. If the screen comes on and starts working, hypothesis correct; if it doesn’t, I need a new hypothesis. That’s the scientific method.

With disruptive hypotheses for innovation, you don’t make a reasonable prediction, you make an unreasonable provocation. We would start by thinking, why on Earth does the cell phone even need a battery at all that is charged from electricity? I’m carrying it around with me all day, why shouldn’t the kinetic energy generated by my movement be enough?

The difference is profound, and the reason this relates back to your question is, normally somebody comes up with an absurd idea — something that doesn’t seem to immediately suggest that it would deliver value in any way — and people who are trained in business, particularly if they’ve got an MBA, instantly dismiss it. If you’re a leader and you’re expected to make a bet on an idea, you’re going to choose the ideas that you think are the right ones, and the ideas you think are right are the ones that track best with your experience of what has been successful in the past.

This is how organizations start embracing incremental change without even knowing it, and this gets them into a very dangerous position, because they get themselves on a path that becomes narrower and narrower. It’s inevitable that at some point, the organization is going to reach the end of that path, where they can’t make any further incremental changes to their existing product, service, or business model. And by the time they do reach the end of the path, their customers, particularly their most profitable ones, have forsaken them for a new offering that nobody saw coming.

How might meeting professionals apply disruptive thinking to the events they plan?

I speak at one or two events a week. I’ve got a lot of respect for the industry — these are hardworking, creative, amazing people. But the No. 1 thing I hear from conference attendees is, why are these things all the same? It’s literally the same format for every conference. If you go back 50 years, you could probably even go back 100 years, to see how conventions or conferences were run, the model of people coming in, registering, seeing speakers — the decisions that underlie the orthodoxies were made in a different age and a different context. But the industry is still being driven by those decisions.

The first part of this process is to encourage meeting planners to surface what we call the clichés. The clichés are the widespread beliefs that seem to govern the way everybody is thinking about doing business in a particular space. I would start by auditing, what does a person go through when they’re coming to an event? I would look at it from the customer perspective, and I would surface all the clichés: how somebody signs up for the event, how they become aware of it in the first place, how they first arrive at the event, the need to wear a name badge. I would surface the clichés in terms of timings for presentations, that they’re 45 minutes to an hour for keynotes, that you then have parallel sessions.

It’s important to surface those, because in the meeting-planning industry, with no exception, people don’t realize how much of a hold these clichés have on their imagination. We have to free ourselves from seeing the way things are right now to have any chance of seeing what they might become.

Disruption in 3 Easy Steps

Luke Williams’ keynote at the PCMA Education Conference will focus on “three key buckets”:

1. Context

“The first part will be setting the context for how we’re starting to see in just about every industry an accelerated pace of disruptive change, meaning business models and entire businesses are rising and falling faster than ever before. The speed of this change is unprecedented — we’ve never seen this happen before.”

2. Response

“The second part is saying, well, there are a couple of reactions you can have to the accelerating pace of disruptive change. And the first is to get better at spotting and reacting to it, and this is the strategy that I find many executives follow…. Now, that’s a step in the right direction; it’s better than not being aware of what’s going on. However, my message to this audience is going to be, if you have only got a spot-and-react strategy to change, you’re probably making the problem worse, because it’s a typical workaround. You’re only addressing the most obvious symptoms of change, which is removing the motivation to get down and address the underlying, fundamental cause of the change or need to change.”

3. Solutions

“The third part is, we’re going to get into more specifics on how to do that. First is to recognize that disruptive thinking is a process, and it’s a process that should be treated as seriously and as rigorously in an organization as accounting or operations…. We’ve got to get rid of this misconception that, to make our companies more innovative, we just need to free people of their normal inhibitions and judgments. You’ll find a lot of companies investing in beanbag chairs and water pistols and getting people to take off their ties and sit on the floor and behave like children. That’s useless, particularly when you’re dealing with executives. We need a much more structured, rigorous approach to innovation and creativity and disruptive thinking.”

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.

Social Tables Founder Shares How Great Ideas Are Made

April 30 2014

By Barbara Palmer
The best ideas aren’t always those that come fully formed during a eureka moment, according to Dan Berger, CEO and founder of Social Tables, a meetings-technology company based in Washington, D.C. “What I’ve learned about big ideas and innovation is that it’s a process,” Berger said. “And good ideas can accelerate when there is collaboration.”

Berger is among the meeting professionals who have been accelerating ideas via the Twitter hashtag #BIG-IDEASCL, as part of the year-long BIG IDEAS initiative sponsored by PCMA and the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, and supported by the PCMA Education Foundation. The campaign, launched at PCMA Convening Leaders 2014, is designed to foster innovation and fresh thinking within the meetings industry.

Berger’s three-year-old company provides meeting-design software that allows venues and planners to, among other things, collaboratively diagram events of any size, from fitting stages into ballrooms to designing buffets to placing table napkins. In comparison, Berger’s original idea was modest. He was formerly a congressional aide, and part of his job involved giving his boss as much background as possible about the people he would encounter at social events. One evening, as he headed toward a dinner, Berger had a thought: Wouldn’t it be cool if I could see where people were sitting in advance and could get their bios?He created Social Tables as a table-seating app linked to the social web.

Berger found that people weren’t very quick to publish their seating charts. But users soon began to ask him for more features, such as the ability to move furniture around the diagram and to specify the placement of screens and AV equipment. That was a tipping point, Berger said, and more features have followed. When Social Tables took off, it was less the table-seating tool that Berger first imagined and more a comprehensive, cloud-based meeting-design platform that could easily be used by almost anybody involved in planning or executing an event, from banquet managers to AV technicians. Since the company’s founding, the software has been used to plan 100,000 events, and in the last 18 months, the company’s customer base has grown from 150 to 1,800.

Throughout Social Tables’ development, the ideation process has been a collaboration between the company and its customers. Berger said: “We’re constantly trying new things, getting feedback, and then course-correcting.”

Read more:

#BIGIDEASCL: Asking the (Outside) Experts

By Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief @PCMAConvene

Every industry needs a regular infusion of fresh thinking. With that in mind, PCMA and the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau — a PCMA Uber Partner — have joined together to foster innovation with the BIG IDEAS initiative. Supported by the PCMA Education Foundation, BIG IDEAS was launched at PCMA Convening Leaders in Boston this past January, and will last throughout 2014 — a year-long quest to gather the best ideas to move the industry forward.

What’s the hallmark of a big idea? For one, it looks at the tried-and-true from a genuinely different perspective. Here’s an example, taken from Convening Leaders 2014:

Four design students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University were invited to attend the first day of Convening Leaders on Jan. 13. Their mission: to share their experiences in terms of the design of the conference itself. They were given no parameters other than to observe the event and meet afterward to consolidate their thoughts for an education panel recap session, moderated by global meeting professional Kristin Mirabal, CMP, on the following afternoon.

During the recap, Harvard’s Allison Green and MIT’s Sofia Berinstein, Zheela Qaiser, and Myung Sung talked about what they thought worked and what didn’t. The Opening General Session was clearly a hit. “There was so much energy,” Green said, “and your theme was brilliantly displayed and woven throughout the whole session.”

Qaiser agreed, adding: “Entering the main event, I thought it was amazing that all of these people were entering the hall all at once and were having their badges scanned, yet there were no long lines. It was like managed chaos. Inside, the projection screen was just awesome. The whole event catered to our [generational] ADHD world, and I was standing there thinking, I can do 20 things in this room all at the same time! It felt great.”

In addition to that positive review and benefits found in the meeting’s networking areas, the students agreed that wayfinding could be improved. And they found there was a tradeoff in the breakout sessions — between the depth of information provided in a lecture-based session that didn’t feature any attendee interaction vs. shallow engagement in sessions that had baked-in interactivity. According to the students, there wasn’t enough time to really share valuable information during the designated interactive period.

In all, the design students identified three key attributes of a well-designed face-to-face event: social energy, a forum to help to make connections, and a focus on visuals.

Would you allow an industry outsider to critique your program? It’s one idea that can lead to others to improve your participants’ face-to-face experience.

Read more:

Shark Tank Star Mark Cuban Joins The Big Ideas Challenge

Taking the stage at the Professional Convention Management Association’s (“PCMA”) Convening Leaders conference in Boston earlier this year, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (“DCVB”) announced that ABC Shark Tank star and NBA Dallas Stars owner Mark Cuban will headline the BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE  — an innovation development initiative to define the future of the country’s Trillion dollar meetings and events industry. The BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE is part of an Uber partnership between PCMA and the DCVB.

The BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE invites the global meetings and events industry and big-thinkers everywhere to share their ideas on how people can better connect and engage at meetings and events today and in the future. It also seeks ideas on how the industry’s story of success and innovation can be better showcased to policy-makers and investors.

The winner of the BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE will receive an opportunity to brainstorm their BIG IDEA to Mark Cuban as part of a brainstorming session later this year in Dallas on the future of the meetings and events industry.

“As a city that benefits tremendously from meetings and events of all kinds we want to make sure BIG IDEAS continue to fuel our industry’s explosive growth” said DCVB president/CEO Phillip J. Jones. “Dallas is a community built on BIG IDEAS by people who aren’t afraid to say ‘lets do this. We want to invite those who believe in the power of BIG IDEAS to join us in defining the future of one of the country’s largest industries and opportunity generators.”

“The thinking behind the BIG IDEAS initiative is to encourage conversation within the industry on how to keep us moving forward and how we can consistently bring pioneering ideas to our community,” said Deborah Sexton, President & CEO, PCMA.

BIG IDEAS can be submitted to the BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE by anyone before 1PM ET June 23rd 2014 at or via paper entry form during the BIG IDEAS Networking Luncheon at PCMA Education Conference on June 23, 2014 in Toronto.

You can follow @BIGIDEASCL on Twitter for regular updates. The top five ideas will be posted on by July 7, 2014 for public voting, and the winner will be announced on August 1, 2014.

Complete details on the BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE are available at

Contact: Frank J. Librio, Jr. – (214) 571-1075


About Professional Convention Management Association
PCMA is the multi-channel professional resource and premier educator for leaders in the meetings, conventions, events and trade show industries. PCMA provides their 6,300 members with a community of likeminded colleagues, innovative education and creative global solutions to enhance both their professional development and their organization’s face-to-face and virtual connections. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA has 17 chapters throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico with members in more than 35 countries. For additional information, please visit the PCMA Web site at

About Dallas

The Dallas metroplex is the leading business and financial center in the Southwest, offering visitors an unparalleled array of amenities such as more than 75,000 hotel rooms, flexible meeting space, moderate climate, service-oriented staff, and a central location with two major airports with more domestic nonstop flights than any other U.S. city. As one of the top visitor destinations in Texas, Dallas provides the best shopping in the Southwest and the largest urban arts district in the nation, with five cultural venues designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects.

Read more:

BIG IDEAS from Convening Leaders 2014

During Convening Leaders 2014 in Boston, PCMA, the PCMA Foundation and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau launched the BIG IDEAS Initiative to showcase BIG IDEAS and BIG Thinkers in our industry.

Bd452vpIAAAJqM4We had over 100 post-it note submissions along with 100′s of tweets and Facebook postings outlining ideas from room sets to convention center design. Here’s a summary of the “idea buckets” that became apparent:

SPACE DESIGN: Ideas submitted here focused on redesigning venues to make them more appealing and to enhance networking potential. There was an interesting idea about converting abandoned shopping malls into meeting venues. David Adler also challenged tradeshow organizers to think more like shopping mall managers.

ENGAGEMENT and EXPERIENCE DESIGN: Ideas submitted here focused on enhancing attendee engagement at events by introducing new types of networking experiences with higher levels of participation. Borrowing from the tech world, using Hackathons to deploy creativity and diverse group dynamics to solve a specific challenge was seen as a powerful idea to be explored.

LEARNING DESIGN: BIG IDEAS around learning design were seemingly driven by the fact that people “learn different” today but that educational events have yet to sufficiently integrate that line of thinking into their event design. “Social learning” was offered as one concept. Another example of a BIG IDEA around learning design that is currently in-play is “One Day University”.

OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY: BIG IDEAS shared in this area suggest Convening Leaders attendees remain challenged by current technology solutions aimed at improving meeting operational efficiency. Submissions were focused on the need for fully-integrated, end-to-end planning solutions and a global database of meetings that included history and event specs.

ENGAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY: Surprisingly few BIG IDEAS focused on technology innovations. Those provided focused again on improving attendee engagement and creating more value from networking sessions. BIG IDEAS around “smart badges” and an integrated social media management platform were suggested.

Taking the stage at the annual Convening Leaders conference in Boston, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (“DCVB”) announced that ABC Shark Tank star and NBA Dallas Stars owner Mark Cuban will headline the BIG IDEAS CHALLENGE.

The BIG IDEAS Challenge invites the global meetings and events industry and big-thinkers everywhere to submit their ideas on how people can better connect and engage at meetings and events in the future. It also asks for ideas on how the industry’s story of success and innovation can be better showcased to policy-makers and investors.

The winner of the BIG IDEAS Challenge will receive an opportunity to pitch their BIG IDEA to Mark Cuban as part of a brainstorming session later this year in Dallas on the future of the meetings and events industry.