• 7 Tips for Planning Your Meeting Venue Budget

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Aug 27, 2019
    The meeting budget.

    It may not be a planner’s favorite to-do. But managing and tracking costs helps planners make smarter decisions to align with overall meeting goals and objectives and keeps spending under control.

    A meeting venue budget includes many different types of costs, some fixed and others variable. Typically one of the largest fixed budget items is the venue rental, which on average accounts for 30 percent of a planner’s budget.

    Keep your meeting venue budget on-track and avoid any surprises by following these seven budget planning tips. 

    1. Identify what your venue rental exactly includes

    As you plan your meeting, work with the venue manager to understand all of the items covered by your rental fee agreement.

    For example:
    •    Set-up fees
    •    Meeting/function room rental
    •    Provided tables, chairs, furniture and AV equipment
    •    Security deposit
    •    Parking
    •    Housekeeping/cleaning
    •    Deliveries/handling

    2. Assess extra fees

    Once you’ve determined what is provided, assess potential additional fees and allot money to cover extras that may come up, such as:
    •    Union/labor charges (straight and overtime)
    •    Cancellation fees
    •    Insurance costs (check to see if/what insurance your venue provides and determine extra coverage needed to protect meeting attendees and your company)
    •    Damage fees
    •    Any applicable taxes and license fees

    3. Work out WiFi coverage and costs

    Meeting attendees expect accessible and fast WiFi throughout the entire venue. Find out if WiFi is included, and if so, if the speed is enough for your meeting.

    If WiFi isn’t included, or you need additional bandwidth, detail out the costs to add more coverage, including in public networking or outdoor spaces if appropriate.

    4. Take control of the A/V costs

    More venues, like the OLC, use an inclusive model for standard A/V equipment, which makes it easier to manage the meeting venue budget.

    If your venue rental includes A/V, check:
    •    Does it include A/V include projectors, switchers, microphones and screens?
    •    What about lighting?
    •    Is labor included?
    •    What about set-up and rehearsals?

     And if you need specialized equipment, such as equipment for a livestream, ask for a detailed pricing estimate. 

    5. Factor in food & beverage

    This budget item is a bit trickier since costs increase as your attendance list grows. Beyond the actual food and beverage cost per person, look for other costs that can drive up your budget:
    •    Any minimum order requirements
    •    Tax and service fees/gratuities
    •    Corkage fees
    •    Bartender/server labor fees

    6. Plan for décor and staging

    If you’re incorporating your brand or event theme into the meeting, don’t forget to budget for additional décor items to enhance what is already included in the venue rental.

    Typical additional décor budget items include:
    •    Draping, linens, table skirting or chair covers
    •    Accent lighting
    •    Floral decorations
    •    Table decorations and centerpieces
    •    Podiums
    •    Risers and/or other staging elements

    7. Leave an emergency fund

    Of course, despite your best planning, you can’t predict what will happen in the days leading up to a meeting.

    By working approximately 5-10 percent of your total budget into an emergency fund, your budget will have the breathing room to absorb unexpected costs, like a speaker’s last-minute A/V request or additional food and beverage to cover last-minute registrations.

    Conveniently located near O’Hare for easy travel, the OLC is a multi-functional venue designed for corporate, medical and association events. Contact us to learn more about our turn-key pricing and concierge service to keep your next meeting on budget.

  • Creative On-Site Branding Opportunities: A Checklist to Discuss with Your Meeting Venue

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Jul 24, 2019
    After the time and effort spent creating the look and feel of your meeting’s brand and promotion campaign, it’s time to turn your meeting venue into a physical expression of that identity.

    Of course, every meeting venue has different rules and regulations about what you can and can’t do to the physical property. But with flexible and accommodating venues like the OLC, there are often plenty of unique and creative opportunities to put your brand stamp on the physical space.

    Use this checklist to open up a conversation about available creative branding opportunities at your meeting venue.

    The First Impression

    When attendees arrive on-site, give them a warm welcome by taking advantage of these indoor and outdoor branding opportunities:
    • The entrance
      Add branded welcome signage to let attendees know they’re in the right place.
    • The lobby
      Once attendees step inside, window clings or vinyl lettering affixed to the walls or surfaces make the lobby feel more in line with your meeting tone. If venue rules don’t allow for affixed signage on hard surfaces, place uplights in the meeting’s brand colors around the lobby for an easy and inexpensive branding alternative.
    • Directional signage
      Use branded, simple standing signs or banners to guide attendees to session rooms, networking spaces or the sponsor/exhibit area.
    • Oversize visuals or structures
      Is there an element from your meeting logo or brand that can be turned into a large sculpture? If not, turn your event name into a larger-than-life physical display. Just like the Burning Man iconic sculptures (without the fire, of course!), an oversize visual creates a bold branded backdrop for photos.
    • Step and repeat

      If a dimensional structure is out of budget or not permitted by the venue, use a branded step and repeat backdrop instead. Your meeting’s brand will be highly visible as attendees snap and share pics.

    • The bathrooms
      It’s unexpected, but taking advantage of bathroom branding opportunities adds a little fun to your event. Think mirror clings with clever sayings or quotes to humanize and personalize your brand.

    • Other digital signs
      Many venues, like the OLC, offer digital signs throughout the meeting space. Ask your venue to provide specs to add branded visuals or videos to take advantage of these digital opportunities.

    The Meeting Rooms

    Extend the brand experience where attendees will spend the most time:
    • Walk-in and holding screens

      Create a branded slide for display when attendees walk into the room, or a “holding slide” to insert during session transition times. On the slide, include the meeting logo or other branding elements, plus key information like the hashtag and WiFi network details. Coordinate the technical specs with your venue and on-site AV team.

    • Lectern signage

      If you have speakers presenting from a lectern, don’t miss this prime opportunity to incorporate your meeting brand. All eyes will be on the speaker, and the audience will take and share photos of the speaker, making brand placement on the podium a must. Just ask the venue for the best way to affix your brand to the provided podiums.

    • Slides
      The actual meeting content slides aren’t typically a venue responsibility, but since the on-site AV team will upload whatever slides are provided to them, consider giving all speakers a custom branded slide template to use when building their presentations – helping keep your brand consistent throughout the event.

    The Food and Beverage

    Attendees take photos every chance they get, especially when it comes to creative food and beverage. Work with your venue’s caterer to extend the visibility of your meeting’s brand by sprinkling in simple branded touches such as:
    • Branded buffet signs and menus
    • Edible versions of your meeting logo or theme on everything from cupcakes and cookies to cakes and more
    • Color-coordinated snacks, desserts, cocktails or mocktails that compliment your meeting’s color scheme

    The Attendee Takeaways

    Attendee takeaways may be another area outside the direct responsibility of your meeting venue. Chances are, you’ve worked hard to come up with physical items that will leave a lasting impression.

    Ask and show your meeting venue the materials you plan to hand out throughout the event so they can help determine the best method and place to display items like:
    • Registration packets
    • Attendee name tags
    • Meeting swag and other take-home items
    • Speaker gifts
    Review this checklist with your venue to take advantage of all of the creative – and on-brand – opportunities for incorporating your brand identity throughout the meeting venue.

    As a creative and versatile venue for corporate, medical and association meetings and events, discover the top 10 reasons to host your next meeting or event at the OLC.

  • Planning Meetings to Attract and Engage Millennials

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Jul 02, 2019
    With the number of millennials projected to reach 73 million this year – overtaking baby boomers as the largest adult population in the United States – many meeting and event planners wonder, “How can I attract and engage this generation to attend my meeting or event?”
    One noteworthy characteristic of this generation is their desire to have a memorable experience. A recent study by Harris Poll illustrates these beliefs:
    •    78 percent of millennials would rather spend money on an experience or an event over buying something desirable.
    •    69 percent said they believe attending live experiences helps them “connect better with their friends, their community and people around the world.”
    •    83 percent of respondents said they participated in a “live event” in the past year.
    •    72 percent said they would like to increase their expenditures on experiences in the coming year.
    What can meeting and event planners do to attract and engage more millennial attendees? Here’s a look at five best practices.

    1.  It’s About the Connections

    Splash, an event marketing software platform, recently surveyed 785 millennials from around the world to identify what millennials want from events.

    The study asked, “what’s the main reason you choose to attend a brand event?” Fifty-six percent indicated networking opportunities or a chance to meet new people.

    To attract and engage millennials, planners can play to their desire to connect by promoting opportunities to meet with peers, speakers and other industry KOLs.

    2.  Visually Appealing

    Many planners now carefully plan and consider the “Instagram-aesthetic” – meaning how their event or meeting looks like when photographed and shared socially.

    But design isn’t just important at the event. According to the Splash study, 40 percent of millennials said if the invite or event page is “ugly,” they wouldn’t even go to the event.

    Instill a visually appealing approach from the very first communication throughout the entire event to attract to millennials’ keen sense of style.

    3.  Mobile and Technology-Friendly

    Technology has been at millennials’ fingertips, making them enthusiastic users who look for seamless integration in meetings and events too.

    Consider these elements to deliver on attendees’ expectations:
    •    Free WiFi – with enough bandwidth for fast connections to accommodate every guest (and more)
    •    Ample charging stations and laptops to keep devices juiced
    •    No more paper handouts and copies – communications and event materials are green/digital

    4.  Socially Shareable

    In the Splash study, 24 percent of millennials said they attend events just for “social media bragging rights.”

    In addition to meetings that are both visually appealing and technology-friendly, planners should encourage and incorporate social sharing into the overall meeting experience to appeal of millennials’ innate desire to share.

    Promoting a meeting-specific hashtag, or offering special incentives or discounts to those who post pics online or livestream their experience amps up social sharing for millennials and increases a meeting’s visibility to broader audiences.

    5.  Be Creative

    Technically, this last idea applies to engage and attract any audience. Unexpected creative elements, new ideas, surprises and more keep attendees’ engaged throughout the meeting – and give them something to share and continue talking about once the meeting is over. 

    It can be as simple as incorporating a surprise speaker, adding a fun theme, giving back to a good cause or some other creative element. Just don’t add a layer of creativity for the sole sake of creativity – align it with your audience, what they care about and the meeting goals.

      Take a virtual tour to discover how the OLC is an ideal venue for any meeting or event.

  • The Importance of Video for Your Meetings and Events

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | May 28, 2019

    From TV commercials to movie trailers, the use of video marketing isn’t anything new.

    Thanks to the Internet and the always-on smartphones in our palms, video marketing is rapidly on the rise – and for good reasons:

    Beyond these powerful statistics, the growing appeal of video is that it can be used in so many different ways.

    When it comes to meetings and events, video is a great marketing tool. It provides attendees with a glimpse into your event and gives them a taste of what to expect. Plus, it’s a lot more engaging and energetic – just like the experience they’ll have when they attend.

    Take a look at all the ways to use video to create enthusiasm before, during and after an event or meeting. 

    Trailers

    There’s a reason why every major motion picture releases a movie trailer. Film trailers are a way to attract an audience before the release of a film. If the trailer leaves the audience wanting more, they’ll be curious to see the movie when it’s released.

    Event trailers or teasers work the same way. They provide potential attendees with a sneak peek of the in-person experience.

    For an effective event trailer, go beyond location and date details. Show attendees experiencing the event or let them talk about their most valuable takeaway. Ask speakers, industry experts or even well-known subject matter experts to record snippets of their presentation or anything else that establishes your meeting as one not-to-be-missed.

    FAQs & Reminders

    What is the refund policy? What does the registration include? What kind of on-site parking is available?

    Chances are a running list of FAQs are posted on the meeting website. Instead of providing attendees with a long list of questions to read through, a video turns FAQs into a fun, fact-finding experience. (As an example, if you haven’t seen the Las Vegas McCarran Airport security reminder video, it’s a great example of how to make reminders and FAQs entertaining to watch.)

    Video also increases the likelihood that those important, but often-overlooked, reminders are seen and heard too.

    Live Videostreams

    There are plenty of times when potential attendees want to attend a meeting or event, yet can’t make the trip because of conflicting schedules or long distances to travel.

    A live videostream provides a cost-effective strategy to reach bigger audiences – whether it’s expanding the meeting to a global group or engaging a whole new market of people who haven’t previously attended. A live videostream gives a taste of the event experience and often increases the likelihood they’ll attend in person the next year. According to Digitell, a multimedia development company, “30 percent of people who watch a live stream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year.”

    Another tip: record the live videostream and rebroadcast at a later date with the original presenter hosting live Q&A. Not only does this extend the life of a video livestream beyond the initial broadcast, but it’s also another way to build momentum for future meetings and events.

    Highlights and Recap

    What better way to thank attendees for coming than a video that shows all of the memorable moments? A highlights video provides a powerful recap of the entire event experience and is a perfect teaser to build momentum for the next meeting.

    To discover how our state-of-the-art venue supports video marketing for meetings and events, including video livestreams, contact the OLC to learn more.

  • 11 Rosemont Resources for Your Next Medical Meeting or Corporate Event

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Apr 03, 2019

    Located just minutes from O’Hare Airport and downtown Chicago, Rosemont has long been a popular destination for medical meetings, association events and corporate meetings.

    Rosemont is not only home to the OLC, a state-of-the-art medical meeting and corporate event venue, but also a wide variety of hotel, dining and entertainment options – making it an ideal destination.

    If you’re planning a medical meeting or corporate event in Rosemont, read this helpful guide of all there is to see and do for small and large groups. Your event and meeting attendees will thank you for giving them a great experience.

     

         Dining

    • Gene & Georgetti
      One of Chicago’s oldest and finest steakhouses has a Rosemont outpost directly across the street from the OLC. After more than seven decades in operation, Gene & Georgetti is still family-owned and operated. Head to this institution for delicious prime steaks, chops and classic Italian fare.
    • Carlucci
      Rosemont is home to another top restaurant serving Italian traditions for more than 30 years, Carlucci. The restaurant has won dozens of awards and is frequently listed among the top 50 restaurants to visit in the Chicago area.
    • The Capital Grille

      There’s no shortage of delicious steaks, fresh seafood or world-class wines with the Rosemont location of The Capital Grille.

    • Harry Caray’s

      Eat, drink and be Harry! Looking for a dash of nostalgia from the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame broadcaster combined with Italian favorites and aged steaks? Then a visit to Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse in Rosemont is in order.

    • Hofbrauhaus Chicago

      Hofbrauhaus Chicago is only one of eight restaurants and beer halls in the U.S. modeled after the 400-year-old Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Communal dining, live music, authentic Bavarian dishes and beers make for a memorable outing.

    • Sugar Factory

      Delicious dishes, sweet treats, specialty candies, ice cream and more are on the menu at this festive American-style brasserie. Be sure to share pics and ‘grams of the signature cocktails, mocktails and epic desserts!

       

      Entertainment

    • iFly

      Give meeting or event guests a memorable indoor sky-diving experience! If you haven’t experienced a state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnel, this is the place for beginners to world champions to try a human bodyflight.

    • Kings Dining & Entertainment

      This 28,000 square-foot facility features 20 ten-pin bowling lanes, 5 full-sized billiards tables, a shuffleboard table and more to give meeting and event attendees a memorable day or night of entertainment.

    • Zanies

      A trip to the Chicago and Rosemont area wouldn’t be complete without a night of comedy. Catch recognizable or up-and-coming stand-up comedians at one of the area’s top stand-up comedy clubs.

    • Fashion Outlets Chicago

      Looking to do a little shopping? Avoid the crowds on Michigan Avenue and head over to Fashion Outlets of Chicago. As the Midwest’s only two-level indoor outlet shopping experience, one-stop shopping beckons from over 130 designer outlets, including Gucci, Prada, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Burberry, as well as national brands like Banana Republic, J.Crew, Nike, Under Armour and more.

    • Chicago Dogs Baseball

      Soak up the sun and catch a ball game at the newly opened Impact Field, home to the minor-league Chicago Dogs. In addition to the game on the field, great seating options, food selections and fun fan activities mean it is time to go out to the ballgame.

    There is much more to see and do in Rosemont. Check out the area’s local amenities or contact a member of our concierge planning team for other Rosemont resources to make your next meeting or event the best one yet.

     

     


  • 25 Years of the OLC: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Mar 01, 2019

    The OLC’s hometown of Rosemont has long been a major center for corporations, entertainment and business activities due to its close location to several interstates, O'Hare International Airport, and downtown Chicago.

    Back in the 1980s, to add to Rosemont’s growing reputation as a meeting destination, several of the Village’s larger professional healthcare associations recognized the need for a dedicated education and hands-on surgical training venue for members. After years of planning, the original Orthopaedic Education & Learning Center (OLC) opened its doors in 1994.

    It’s hard to believe how quickly time flies. Not only did we outgrow our original space and move to a new larger state-of-the-art meeting and event venue back in 2015, but this year also marks the 25th year of the OLC. 

    Today, the OLC plays host to thousands and thousands of attendees and hundreds of meetings and events each year.

    Here’s a roundup of just a few highlights how the OLC has grown during our first twenty-five years:

    OLC 2018 infographic long 650


    We wouldn’t be celebrating these milestones and 25 years without each and every one of our valuable supporters and partners. On behalf of the entire OLC, thank you.

    We appreciate your support and look forward to another 25 years (and more)!

  • Meeting Venue Trends and Statistics: What Planners and Attendees Expect in 2019

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Jan 30, 2019

    After another strong year for meetings and events in 2018, many predictions show the industry continuing an upward trend this year:

    No matter what kind of event or meeting, venue selection plays an essential role in success. We took a look at trends and statistics to determine what planners and attendees expect in the coming year.

    Trend 1: Unique and Flexible Spaces

    In research conducted by SocialTables, an event management platform, 92 percent of planners and property professionals alike said they believe events are more likely to be booked outside of a hotel than they were five years ago.

    One reason why is due to the increased demand for nontraditional meeting and conference formats. For example, many attendees want to network and collaborate in informal or multi-purpose spaces. Beyond event content, the second biggest motivator for event attendance is networking.

    To accommodate a wide variety of needs, planners and attendees today expect flexible spaces that can be easily reconfigured to accommodate both group learning and peer learning. Hand-in-hand is the ability for planners to reinvent meeting spaces as they need them, quickly and easily, without needing long amounts of time to turn a room.

    Trend 2: Local Flavor

    According to Lodging Magazine, “millennials seek to immerse themselves in the destination in which they are staying.”

    But millennials aren’t the only ones who want a local taste. With the rise of bleisure travel, many attendees want to take full advantage of the locale when they attend an event or meeting.

    One way for venues to give planners and attendees a local taste is by providing sustainable food and beverage menu options or offering unique field trips or experiences to nearby destinations. These kinds of unique experiences give guests something they can’t get anywhere else and give back to the local community too – a win-win for all.

    Trend 3: Well-Connected

    According to the IACC Meeting Room of the Future report, a great venue should have good lighting and acoustics, excellent audiovisual capabilities and, most importantly, fast and reliable WiFi.

    With planners and attendees wanting to stay connected to their work and to participate in audience engagement activities during the event, high-quality broadband and solid technology infrastructure are no longer optional. Same with the wide availability of power outlets throughout the venue – these are just as critical.

    Easy accessibility to airports as well as local attractions, restaurants and shopping make it easy for guests’ connectivity to go beyond venue walls too.

    Trend 4: Wellness

    There’s no denying it – wellness continues to be a mega trend both at home and during meetings and events.

    Planners and attendees expect venues to offer healthier menu items – whether that’s vegetarian and vegan, or even Kosher or Halal options.

    Venues that take physical and mental wellness beyond food and beverage are also on the rise. Examples include facilities with water and air purification systems, ambient lighting systems to help guests relax and alleviate stress or even “unplugged” spaces for attendees to meditate or practice mindfulness.

    Trend 5: All-Inclusive

    With so many details to handle, planners increasingly want a venue that provides it all, especially when it comes to turn-key packages with A/V equipment, wireless internet and tech support included.

    All-inclusive packages reduce the need to source, coordinate and book multiple vendors – saving time and worry.

    Ready to plan your next meeting or event? Take a virtual tour of the OLC to discover more of our facility, including our 14,000+ sq feet of flexible space, all-inclusive AV and turn-key concierge planning services.

  • 15 Go-To Meeting and Event Planning Resources

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Dec 03, 2018

    Meeting and event planning sometimes gets a bad rap – like consistently being ranked one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

    But planners know how to get it done. Between handling all the logistics of finding and booking a venue, wrangling speakers, making decisions about food and beverage or any of the other million details associated with planning meetings and events, MacGyver could take a page from planners’ resourcefulness.

    To ease the stress and add a little dash of inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of helpful meeting and event planning resources.

    Contact the OLC to learn more about our turn-key concierge planning services that take the stress out of planning any event!

  • 5 Ways to Plan a Meaningful Medical Meeting

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Sep 18, 2018

    In Ashfield Meetings & Events’ 2018 The Science of Healthcare Professional Meetings study, more than three-quarters of HCPs said they would only participate in a meeting that can show a good return on their investment of time and money.

    With it becoming harder for HCPs to take time away from their practices, here’s a look at five ideas for planning a meaningful medical meeting.

    1. Combine Learning and Networking

    In the study, nearly 75 percent attend to network with colleagues or other specialists, and 68 percent say they attend to meet with global experts and key opinion leaders.

    Combine learning and networking to increase the educational value of interactive workshops and hands-on training sessions by pairing attendees with an experienced mentor. For both beginners and advanced learners alike, this type of mentoring format is conducive to learning new medical skills while also fostering connections with fellow colleagues.

    2. Add Interactive Learning

    Seventy-six percent of survey respondents believed more workshops and interactive sessions would increase the educational value of a meeting.

    Rather than only offering PowerPoint-heavy lecture formats, switch things up with new formats designed to better engage attendees and appeal to different learning styles. For example, offer small-group discussions or roundtables to spark discussion and debate.

    3. Provide New and Interesting Content

    Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said they go to meetings to learn what’s new within their disease specialty, and 72 percent said they attend to find out about the latest products in their disease area.

    When you consider that a good deal of information can be found online, make a medical meeting more meaningful by focusing on new and exciting content – especially as it relates to attendees’ practice areas.

    And as a full 85 percent said sessions should be kept short and impactful, move beyond the days of long PowerPoint-driven lectures. The Ashfield study found that 45 percent of survey respondents believe meetings don’t have enough of the workshops, small-group discussions and other interactive elements they’re looking for – even though more than three-quarters said interactive sessions would increase the meeting’s educational value.

    4. Offer Convenience

    With heavy workloads, time away from practice is a big concern for HCPs. According to Ashfield’s research, HCPs said they wanted their time commitment – including travel – to be just 3.2 days. They also don’t want to travel as far, saying they only want to spend 4.7 hours to get to a meeting.

    As PCMA reports, as time-strapped physician attendees look to maximize time spent traveling, hotels and event venues near airports are becoming a bigger draw. Pat Schaumann, senior director of health-care compliance at Maritz, told PCMA. “It’s easy to get in and out, which is a big selling point for physicians who don’t want to be away from their practices for a long time.”

    5. Ask What HCPs Want

    It sounds so easy, but medical meetings can be made more meaningful simply by asking HCPs what they’d like their experience to be.

    Eighty percent of respondents said they wanted to help shape the event to meet their needs – but 38 percent said they had never been asked for their input. Gather feedback through informal Q&A with attendees throughout the event, simple post-meeting surveys, formal research channels or an advisory board.

    But don’t be overwhelmed with the idea of gathering and analyzing feedback. Start gathering what feedback you can and build from there. A little information goes a long way to make medical meetings more meaningful – and keep attendees coming back.

    Looking for a medical meeting venue that’s convenient to a major airport hub and is home to an advanced hands-on bio-skills lab?

    Contact the OLC to learn more!

  • 4 Hacks to Ease Planning Year-End Appreciation Events

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Aug 29, 2018

    ‘Tis the season to start thinking about year-end celebrations – especially employee, customer and volunteer appreciation and recognition events.

    Recognition events like these are a great way to motivate and engage employees, and thank customers and volunteers for their contributions. But when they fall at an already hectic time like the end of the year, who couldn’t use a little extra help to make planning easier?

    Leave the stress behind and spend time actually enjoying the holiday season with the help of these four year-end appreciation event planning hacks.


    1. Be Flexible

    Who says your appreciation event has to be at year-end? After all, there are only so many available dates at the end of the year and it’s hard enough to find a date that works with your internal team’s schedules. On top of it, your guests’ calendars are likely loaded with other events, family obligations and additional holiday-related plans.

    So get flexible – flexible with the type of the event and the timing.

    Perhaps guests will be more available and appreciative of a breakfast or luncheon event instead of a cocktail party or dinner. Hosting an event earlier typically lowers costs and reduces obligations on employees’ personal time and commitments.

    Or think about other times of year too. Early October and mid-to-late January can be great alternative times to hold an appreciation event because typically more guests are available to attend.


    2. Book a Venue Early

    All too often appreciation events – especially for employees – happen in the office. This may or may not continue to be feasible because of space constraints. And it may not have the same effect or atmosphere as hosting guests at an off-site venue.

    If you decide to host your event at an outside venue, book early! Venues are typically in high demand throughout the year-end season.

    You’ll have the best date availability the earlier you start the venue sourcing process. Plus, if you’re looking at days and times beyond evenings in December (which tend to be the most expensive), you’ll likely save money on catering and other expenses.


    3. Go All Inclusive with A/V

    Sourcing, coordinating and booking an A/V vendor often adds extra time and stress. So rather than adding to an already long to-do list, look for a venue with A/V included.

    You’ll save the hassle of planning equipment needs and all the back and forth correspondence about equipment compatibility, and set-up and dismantle schedules will be eliminated too.


    4. Get Creative with Food & Beverage

    With so many guests having dietary preferences and restrictions, it can be a challenge planning a menu that satisfies everyone’s needs.

    Rather than defaulting to the same food and beverage set-up you’ve always used, think creatively to make your menu planning easier:

    • Instead of a full bar, come up with three or four hand-crafted signature cocktails and mocktails for guests to sip.
    • Get attendees to mix and mingle with several mini food stations instead of seated meals. Think self-serve, small bites that allow guests to taste local dishes, trendy foods or classic throwbacks. Offering multiple options also makes it easier to satisfy vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and even Kosher or Halal dietary restrictions.
    • Banish the boring menu with a food truck or similar “pop-up” food experience. Guests will enjoy the extra treat surprise. And planning is easier because food trucks are used to frequently rolling and setting up in new locations.

    Ready to start planning your year-end appreciation event? Talk to the OLC about our turn-key concierge planning services that take the stress out of planning any event!

  • How to Develop a Backup Plan with Your Meeting Venue

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Jul 19, 2018

    “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”

    There’s a reason why Murphy's Law is still a popular adage. Many planners have learned the hard way to have alternative plans in case something goes wrong – whether it’s for a minor inconvenience like printing a new attendee badge on-site or a major mishap such as a speaker no-show. 

    It’s just as important to work with your meeting venue to have a backup plan for life’s unexpected curve balls. Here’s how:


    1) Prepare for Common Mishaps

    No matter the best-laid plans, there are always factors beyond the control of both you and the venue. Preparing for possible common mishaps minimizes disruption and stress for everyone if something unexpected does happen.

    Work with your venue on how to handle common issues like these in case they arise:

    • Lack of parking: Establish designated locations for overflow parking and have signage at the ready to direct attendees where to go.
    • Food and beverage shortages: There’s a fine line between ordering just enough and running out. Ask your venue to help you determine the right amounts to order. If you run into a case of very hungry or thirsty attendees, ask your venue what kinds of options would be available on short notice.
    • No-show vendor: Transportation occasionally breaks down or inclement weather disrupts plans. Talk to your venue about a list of backup vendors that you can call on in case of an emergency. 


    2) Focus and Prioritize on High-Risk Scenarios

    It isn’t feasible to have a backup plan for every little thing that can go wrong during an event or meeting. Work with your venue to differentiate between two types of scenarios:

    • Issues that would cause a big impact if they were to go south, like any possible problems related to attendee safety and security. 
    • Items that could be a nuisance, such as not enough power outlets or bathroom lines. 

    Neither scenario is desirable, but one is dramatically worse than the other. As part of your backup plan with the venue, focus on high-risk scenarios.


    3) Ask the Venue’s Contingency Plans

    Ask your venue to share their security protocols and contingency plans, such as:
    • Contingency plans in case of a power loss. Does the venue have emergency generators, and if needed, what power will remain on [like stairwells, elevators, exit signage, etc.)?
    • Protocols in case of an unexpected medical emergency. Have the venue identify how and where emergency responders, paramedics or fire personnel will come into the building to maintain privacy and keep disruption to a minimum.
    • Evacuation plans and locations of exterior rally points.


    4) Establish a Communication Chain of Command

    You may have a communication chain of command within your own internal team, but don’t forget to loop venue staff into those plans. As part of the chain of command, it’s important to establish who decides if the backup plan needs to be implemented. 

    As an example, if something unexpected happens like a venue power loss, who needs to be identified on your team? Or if you have a scenario requiring a response from local emergency officials, who from the venue is designated to make those calls?

    One helpful tool we’ve seen used is distributing a laminated card to all key internal and venue staff with a detailed listing of contact names and numbers, and who to notify about what kind of issue.


    5) Communicate the Plan

    It’s important for everyone – executive management, speakers, attendees, internal staff and vendors – to know that there is a backup plan and in what kinds of situations it could be implemented.

    If the backup plan needs to be activated, tell all stakeholders and attendees how and when they’ll receive information – whether that’s through announcements over the public address system, texts or other forms of notification. Remember: there’s no such thing as over communicating. 

    No matter how well every detail is planned and the number of precautions put in place, creating a backup plan with your venue keeps it any unexpected issues that could arise from becoming a disaster.

    Looking for a venue for your next meeting? Contact the OLC to learn more!
  • 4 Research-Backed Insights about Meeting Venues of the Future

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Jun 26, 2018

    To get to the heart of how venues are changing to meet the needs of both planners and attendees, we dug into the recently released 2018 IACC Meeting Room of the Future™.

    To support effective participant learning and information retention, here are four research-backed insights about the meeting venues of the future:


    Insight #1: Venues need to support experience creation.

    The IACC study found that more planners are responsible for “experience creation” – which will become even more important over the next five years.

    For planners looking to create a memorable attendee experience, the IACC report suggests looking for a venue that offers “a variety of on and off-site amenities that foster ‘experience creation’.”

    Venues can support planners with experience creation by providing elements such as:

    • Creative meeting rooms
    • Themed food & beverage
    • Outdoor meeting rooms/spaces
    • Ice-breakers
    • Team-based sporting activities/facilities


    Insight #2: Flexible venue spaces are on the rise.

    The IACC reports that the need for flexible, creative space is continuing to intensify, with 60 percent of meeting operators feeling the flexibility of meeting spaces will become more important over time.

    One of the biggest trends in meeting space development and design over the past three years is incorporating more flexible, “non-traditional” meeting room furniture.

    Other opportunities to create flexible spaces is by activating under-utilized spaces, such as transforming foyers or atriums into a networking lounge, or creating informal huddle spaces for attendees to brainstorm.


    Insight #3: High-quality internet in the venue reigns supreme.

    Seventy-seven percent of venue operators in the IACC report said high-quality internet infrastructure will become even more important in the next three to five years.

    Sufficient bandwidth is of growing importance too: in meeting rooms, hallways, public spaces and even outside the venue itself.

    The IACC reports many venues increasingly offering internet access free of charge to clients or include it as part of a meeting package.


    Insight #4: It’s time to re-evaluate break time trends.

    Eighty percent of venues surveyed by IACC offer continuous refreshment break service – up slightly from 77 percent in 2017. That’s just one major trend changing up food and beverage offerings. Another is the increased use of sustainable, healthier and more locally-sourced food and beverage choices.

    When it comes to finding a meeting venue of the future, research confirms that venues that support experience creation, provide flexible spaces, include high-quality internet and offer healthier food and beverage options are key to meeting attendees’ evolving needs and expectations.

    Contact us to learn more about how the OLC Education & Conference Center’s flexible space, included WiFi and AV and turn-key service can support your next meeting experience.  
  • Top Tips for Building an Effective Conference Agenda

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | May 29, 2018

    Ask any medical or corporate meeting planner about the importance of an agenda, and you’ll likely hear that it’s the critical backbone of any event. For both organizers and attendees, a well-planned agenda keeps everyone on track. And it’s also a critical tool for presenting event information in an organized and relevant manner.

    From beginning to end, here are top tips for building an effective conference agenda.

    1. Build in time for announcements

    When a meeting or event starts, many planners tend to jump right into the agenda, especially if a keynote or general session is scheduled first. While it’s tempting to start off on a high note, don’t forget the need to spend a few minutes on general announcements too.

    Just like when you’re at the movies or another unfamiliar venue, allocate time to communicate safety protocols and security procedures. Planning these announcements in advance keeps you on track with the overall agenda – while keeping everyone safe and secure.

     

    2. Allow for plenty of time for networking and meals

    Networking is one of the top reasons people attend events and meetings. Build in ample time to allow guests to mix and mingle with each other.

    An effective agenda has networking time spread throughout the day. One successful formula:

    • Dedicated early morning networking during breakfast
    • Casual networking during refreshment and meal breaks
    • Dedicated afternoon networking prior to a closing keynote or general session that attendees don’t want to miss
    • Optional early evening networking during a reception

    Planning the right amount of agenda time for meal breaks is also important. A few helpful rules of thumb:

    • Refreshment breaks for groups of 100 or less should be a minimum of 15 minutes. For up to 1,000 guests, schedule 30 minutes. And for groups over 1,000 attendees, schedule 45 minutes.
    • Allow 30 to 40 minutes for a breakfast and a minimum of 45 to 60 minutes for lunch, depending on the number of people and how the meal is served.
    • Self-serve buffets usually require less time and are ideal for smaller groups. Plated meals take longer, especially if one server is used to serve multiple tables versus one server per table.

     

    3. Don’t forget to plan transition time

    After a session, most attendees need time to listen to voicemails, return calls, check emails, visit the washroom, or physically move from one location to another.

    Before finalizing any agenda, one helpful suggestion is to walk the agenda as if you were in an attendee’s shoes. This experience is a great check to see if there is enough time to do all of the above, knowing crowds and lines for the bathroom add more time too.

    And don’t forget to work with your venue to understand the amount of time they need to transition a room set-up. You’ll want to accommodate their schedules too when planning an agenda that moves from general sessions to breakouts or hands-on training sessions.

     

    4. Schedule downtime

    It’s hard to remain focused and energized when education and activities are non-stop. Allow attendees time to see the sights, quiet moments to digest and reflect on what they’ve been learning, and time to unwind.

     

    5. Stick to the published agenda

    Once your agenda has been published, don’t deviate from it. Remember attendees have reviewed the schedule in advance, likely planning con calls, meetings or other work catch up during breaks and downtime.

    For more corporate or medical meeting planning tips, follow the OLC on Twitter.

  • GDPR: A Roundup of Top Resources for Meeting Planners

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Apr 20, 2018

    In just a few short weeks on May 25, 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) officially goes into effect. It’s been big news for EU-based companies for several years now.

    But what about U.S. companies without business operations in the 28 member states of the EU. Nothing to worry about, right?

    Not true.

    GDPR is changing data privacy for both EU countries and the rest of the world, and is set to shake things up for everyone – especially for those involved in planning meetings and events.

    We’ve compiled a list of industry resources to help you better understand what GDPR means and steps to take to prepare.

    (Note: this article is intended to provide information, not legal advice. Contact your organization’s legal/compliance director or Data Protection Officer to specifically understand how GDPR applies to your organization.)

    Articles

    Other Resources

    These resources are intended only as a starting point for understanding GDPR issues. Before making any changes or plans, confirm with your company compliance expert or get legal advice to know what makes sense for your specific meeting or event.

  • Seven Tips for Planning Your Meeting Venue Budget

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Mar 29, 2018

    Finding a venue is likely the biggest decision you’ll make for your meeting or training event. It’s also typically the largest line item in your total budget.

    What should you consider when planning your meeting venue budget? Here are seven tips:

    #1: Be Realistic About Head Count

    Don’t overestimate when it comes to total number of expected attendees. A high head count often means increasing the expected food and beverage budget, plus space costs. 

    Be realistic about expected attendance. Avoid surprise charges if you go over your initial estimate by talking to the venue ahead of time about their policies for increasing head count for food and beverage or space needs.

    #2: Ask What’s Included in Venue Rental

    Make sure you aren’t double-counting budget line items because those costs are already included in the rental fee. Some venues include the following costs already in their agreements:

    • WiFi

    • Security

    • On-site staff support during the event

    • Office supplies, like flipcharts, easels and markers

    •  

    #3: Plan Catering Carefully

    Food and beverage is an essential item in your meeting budget. Keep your budget in check by planning in advance for frequently overlooked items like minimum guarantees, gratuities and surcharges.

    And if your venue allows outside food and beverage, don’t forget to account for additional catering costs like set-up, service, replenishment and clean-up. Many venues with in-house catering include all of those services as part of their service costs. But if you’re having food delivered from a restaurant, these additional services aren’t included – and need to be planned for.

    #4: Understand What the A/V Line Item Includes

    First, understand what, if any, A/V is already included. Some venues, like the OLC, have built-in projectors, display screens, microphones and other AV equipment and don’t charge extra for use. Other venues may only permit you to use their in-house A/V services, or charge an extra fee for bringing in an outside vendor.

    While many venues include power, don’t assume it is automatically included in your A/V costs. Some venues charge to plug anything in, and some only charge if additional power is needed to support power-heavy equipment lighting or sound rigs.

    Beyond equipment costs, ask if the A/V line item includes on-site labor costs or service fees, or if those are additional charges.

    #5: Assess Décor Costs

    Some venues come fully equipped to meet your needs, while others are “raw spaces.” For example, if you’re hosting a hands-on medical training, a fully equipped venue can save considerable money on the cost to bring in equipment, the labor to load it in and set it up, and the additional time to rent the venue for set-up.

    Don’t forget to ask about costs for different room configurations, additional chairs or tables, or other décor set-up costs for items like special linens, signs, banners, extra lights, table decorations or draping.

    #6: Determine Insurance Needs

    Meeting and event venues don’t always come with insurance. If the venue does provide insurance, get details about what is specifically covered.

    Work with your in-house legal team to determine if and what additional insurance is needed to guarantee attendee safety.

    #7: Pay Attention to Hidden Costs

    Read your venue contract carefully for any mention of hidden costs, such as:

    • Corkage fees

    • Credit card processing or wire transfer fees

    • Cleaning/housekeeping fees

    • Early set-up or late fees if you’re in the space before or after your scheduled event time

    • Parking for attendees

    • Security/damage deposits

    • Service charges

    • Storage costs

    • Tips and gratuities

    • Taxes

     

    Remember: decide how to spend your meeting venue budget with the overall attendee experience in mind. Don’t skimp on items that directly impact perception of your meeting or event.

    Contact the OLC to learn more about our meeting packages.

  • Emerging Technologies Medical Meeting Professionals Will Be Using in 2018

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Feb 19, 2018

    When it comes to planning and executing medical meetings and trainings, meeting management professionals face a variety of challenges -- from adhering to evolving compliance and regulatory guidelines to staying on top of new trends.

    With 65 percent of meeting professionals saying creating compelling meeting environments that enhance learning will be a challenge in 2018, here’s a look at two emerging technologies medical meeting professionals will be using this year to make their meetings more compelling and effective.


    Livestreaming

    In Eventbrite’s, “The Pulse Report: 2018 Event Industry Trends”, 96 percent of event creator respondents indicated they’ll use livestreaming this year (up from 59 percent in 2017). Why the dramatic increase? Of course, livestreaming allows medical meetings and trainings to reach more attendees wherever they might be.

    But beyond the ability to reach larger audiences, on average, viewers spend 8X longer with live video than recorded video.

    Expect more medical meeting planners to tap into the power of livestreaming this year because the technology is no longer just for mega-sized meetings. Today’s technology has made livestreaming more affordable and accessible for any-size medical meetings.

    For example, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) hosted a two-day hands-on training lab course for a targeted group of a few dozen orthoapedic surgeons. But they also livestreamed a portion of the training to extend the learning to other remote viewers.

    And when you especially consider that 30 percent of people who watch a livestream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year, there’s no reason why livestreaming shouldn’t be a larger part of medical meetings this year. Just make sure to follow these five best practices to ensure a successful livestream medical meeting or training.


    Virtual Reality

    Hands-on experiential education has always been a big draw for medical meeting attendees – whether it’s for continuing medical education, bio-skills training, medical device training or new surgical product and technique education.

    But expect virtual reality technology to shake up and provide new ways of delivering hands-on education at medical meetings and trainings in the coming year. In their 2018 Event Industry Trends report, Eventbrite found 88 percent of event planners plan to use virtual reality this year – up from 43 percent in 2017.

    As an example, the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) has embraced virtual reality simulation education as an additional learning methodology to continue the advancement of medical and surgical skills training. AANA and VirtaMed recently signed a two-year collaboration agreement to use simulators for knee, shoulder and hip arthroscopy training, plus FAST basic skills training for their courses at the OLC. New content and curriculum is being developed specifically for use with the virtual simulators.

    It’s a big undertaking. But AANA Learning Center Committee Chair, Joseph C. Tauro, M.D. says this collaboration will help AANA “ensure all arthroscopic surgeons have access to high-quality skills training and continuous education.”

    Livestreaming and virtual reality are just two technologies medical meeting planners will be using this year to make their meetings more effective.

    If you’re looking for a facility capable of supporting state-of-the-art technologies like these as part of your next medical meeting or training, take a virtual tour of the OLC to learn more.
  • 6 Considerations for Choosing a Corporate Meeting Venue

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Jan 18, 2018

    Your venue plays a big role in the success of your corporate meeting. Here are six considerations for choosing a great venue for your next corporate meeting.

    Consideration #1: Start Early

    If you have a specific date in mind, start looking for your venue early. Popular venues can book months in advance. Start your search at least four to six months to improve your chances of securing your desired date.

    As you begin your venue search, identify the answers to these key questions:

    1. Estimated number of attendees
    2. Space requirements – include your total space needs, plus any plans for networking, education or training space
    3. Budget


    Consideration #2: Location, Location, Location

    Whether the meeting is for locals or attendees traveling in, location is a top primary consideration. For locals, evaluate whether the venue is easily accessible by major roads or public transportation.

    If attendees are coming in from out of town, pinpoint how close the venue is to a major airport and hotels.

    Don’t forget to consider parking and other local amenities.

    • Does the venue have ample parking?
    • Is it free?
    • Are restaurants or other attractions nearby to provide attendees with dining and shopping options?


    Consideration #3: Capacities & Maximums

    Venues have to abide by fire and safety codes, which dictate the maximum number of attendees that can fit into the entire venue as well as individual rooms. Ask for maximum capacities for any rooms you plan to use. Don’t forget – maximums vary by room set-ups too. If you’re planning to use round tables, be aware that maximum may be less than a classroom set.

    At the same time, make sure your rooms won’t be “too big.” While you can technically seat 50 people in a room designed to hold a maximum of 175, you may not want to have that much room to spare.

    You’ll also want to know if there are food and/or beverage minimums. Some venues have a minimum spend requirement. Make sure your planned catering spending is in line with their requirements.


    Consideration #4: Space Flow and Layout

    When reviewing floor plans or layouts, think about how attendees will move throughout your event:

    • Are there a variety of rooms, like auditoriums, classrooms and conference rooms?
    • How flexible is the space to change into other configurations?
    • Is there ample room to accommodate registration and check-in?
    • What space is available for attendees to use in between meeting sessions or during networking breaks?
    • How easy is it for attendees to get around the venue? Are there potentials areas where bottlenecks may occur?

    As you look at specific rooms, review:

    • Sightlines. Can attendees see the speaker from anywhere in the room without any obstructions?
    • Temperature controls. Do rooms offer individual ventilation and temperature controls that can be easily changed as needed?
    • AV. Does the venue’s rental agreement include all the AV you’ll need, like projectors, screens, microphones, outlets/charging stations and WiFi? And most importantly, is it up-to-date to handle graphics-intensive presentations or videos?
    • Wayfinding. Is there clear signage to identify each room and help attendees find where they need to go?


    Consideration #5: Comfort, Safety and Security

    The safety and security of your attendees and your employees are paramount. Understand the overall ambience by looking at areas like:

    • Overall cleanliness, upkeep and maintenance
    • Locations of washrooms
    • Attendee-friendly amenities – like a mother’s room or meditation/prayer space
    • Accessibility options such as elevators or automatic doors


    Consideration #6: Venue Staff

    You’ll be working hand-in-hand with the venue staff for several months. As you’re going through the evaluation process, get a feel for what it will be like working them.

    • Are they timely and responsive to your requests?
    • Do they seem friendly and easy-to-work with?
    • Does the staff make suggestions or offer other ideas to improve your meeting?

    There’s a lot that goes into choosing a venue. But careful considerations of these six areas can set your corporate meeting up for success.

    Take a virtual tour of the OLC to learn more about our facility.

  • Five Tips for Coordinating Security with Your Meeting Venue

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Nov 15, 2017

    Meeting security for attendees and staff has always been top-of-mind. But recent world events have heightened awareness and concern. Many meeting planners wonder what questions they should ask and how to work with their meeting venue to ensure safety for all.

    Of course, it’s always best to work with your own legal and compliance teams on your specific meeting security needs. These five meeting venue security tips can help you get the conversation started while easing the minds of meeting attendees, sponsors, vendors, speakers and internal staff.

    #1: Start the Security Discussion at the Site Visit

    Don’t wait until after you’ve signed the contract with your meeting venue to ask about security. Start the discussion early.

    An initial site visit is ideal to get a first-hand look at the security and safety measures the venue has in place. As you walk the venue, look for:

    • Visible security at the facility entrance. Do you need to show credentials to gain access to the venue?
    • Additional visible security measures, like personnel or closed-circuit cameras and monitors.
    • All of the ways in and out of the building, and locations of stairwells and emergency exits. Ask for a floor plan to make sure all are clearly marked.
    • Access points from delivery doors, loading docks and storage areas.
    • The vehicle access allowed around the venue. If you want to limit how close vehicles can get to the venue, look for physical barriers or open areas between drop-off zones and the building entrance.


    #2: Ask About the Meeting Venue’s Security Protocols

    Ask your venue to share their security protocols and evacuation plan. They may not be able to share every single detail, but they should be able to tell you the basics, such as:

    • What are the protocols in case of an unexpected medical emergency? How and where will emergency responders, paramedics or fire personnel come into the building to maintain privacy and keep disruption to a minimum?
    • What are the contingency plans in case of an unexpected issue, like a power loss?
    • What are the venue evacuation plans and where are exterior rally points for evacuates located?
    • If your meeting has a high-profile speaker or executive in attendance, ask your venue how they’ll coordinate with third-party security details. For example, depending on the speaker, walkthroughs or inspections are conducted leading up to the meeting as well as extra security protocols put in place during the time the speaker or executive is on-site.
    • Ask if the venue staff will make housekeeping announcements, or work with your own staff to inform attendees about what to do in case of an emergency.



    secure wifi for meeting#3: Protect Proprietary Information and Products

    If your meeting features proprietary information or products that needs to stay out of the public eye, you’ll want to make plans to ensure it stays protected.

    Ask about:

    • Locked storage rooms and monitored loading docks to ensure equipment or products are protected at all times. Who has access to the areas throughout your meeting?
    • A dedicated LAN or hard-wired phone to keep top-secret files off public networks.
    • Password-protected WiFi for attendees.


    #4: Prepare Your Backup Plan

    Remember -- security is all about the “just in case.”

    No matter how well every detail is planned and the precautions put in place, make a “what if” plan so it won’t be a disaster when something doesn’t go as expected.

    • Educate your staff. Before the meeting, brief them on floor plans, emergency routes and exits so they can quickly and safely direct attendees where to go.
    • Know the location of any on-site Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in case of an unexpected medical emergency.
    • Be aware of the location of the nearest fire station and hospital emergency room.


    #5: Communicate Security Precautions to Attendees

    Give attendees a heads-up they may be subject to additional security protocols during the course of your meeting – like needing a photo ID to pick up credentials or going through bag inspections or screenings.

    Remind attendees if they’re expected to wear their credentials at all times—and let them know security personnel won’t give anyone access to the meeting venue without proper identification.

    It’s also a good time to remind guests common sense security precautions still prevail. Tell them to take personal belongings with them and not to leave anything unattended. And the familiar refrain of “see something, say something” applies too. It’s OK to say anything, at any time, about suspicious activity or out-of-place items.

    Visible security tells meeting attendees you have their safety in mind and take safety seriously. These tips are a great start to working with your own internal teams to decide the specific plans and precautions you’ll take when working with your meeting venue.  

    Looking for a venue for your next meeting? Contact the OLC to learn more!

  • What Emerging Technologies Mean for the Future of Business Meetings and Events

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Oct 24, 2017

    It wasn’t that long ago that we thought the technology featured in the hit movie Minority Report was far from reality. But here we are with autonomous driving cars on the horizon, roller coasters adding virtual reality headsets and voice-controlled assistants in our homes.

    Just as emerging technologies have rapidly changed our personal and professional lives, there is now an overwhelming landscape of technology options in the meetings and events space. It’s hard for meeting and event professionals to know where to focus resources, let alone how to make all these different platforms, applications and tools work together.

    But the future of our meetings and events depend on thinking creatively and strategically about how best to incorporate technology – not only to support our goals, but to improve the attendee experience.

    Recognizing this challenge, the PCMA Education Foundation engaged Association Laboratory, a leading association industry research consulting firm, to conduct an investigation into how attendees and event organizers are using technology to make face-to-face events more productive.

    The result is the Planning for the Meetings of Tomorrow report. If you haven’t seen the report yet, it’s available free for event professionals. (Hint, hint, download it now!)

    I may be a bit biased as a member of the report’s Research Advisory Committee, but it’s really insightful. Here are a few key findings:

    The Attendee Experience Drives Attendance

    The top three reasons respondents cited for incorporating new technology into events all focus on the attendee: improving the attendee experience, making the event more fun/engaging, and customizing the attendee experience.

    To accomplish increased attendance and revenue, organizations must take a market-centric approach. Organizations should consider:

    • The different attendee markets,
    • What each audience considers “engaging”, and
    • Specific strategies to link these two factors to the content, location and cost of the event.


    Factors Inhibiting Technology Adoption

    Report respondents identified development or purchase costs as the biggest barrier to adopting and using new technologies at events.

    Association Laboratory found successful technology adoption requires balancing what the technology adds to the attendee experience with the overall cost along with attendees’ learning curve.


    Current Use of Technology

    To promote the event and drive registration, email and websites are the most frequently used technologies. Surprisingly, speaker promotion, plus attendee-published information on social media is growing in importance for spreading the word about events.

    When it comes to the on-site experience, WiFi is an essential foundation to success. Any efforts to make access to WiFi faster, easier and more affordable are critical to an engaging user experience. It also paves the way for using event apps, communication tools and other technologies successfully and to their fullest potential.

    Technologies like remote participation, second screen technology and tracking technologies like iBeacon and RFID are also on the rise. Association Laboratory notes “behind-the-scenes” tracking technologies are one of the top three emerging technologies –something expected to become an important foundational technology too.

    After an event is over, post-event engagement is an area of potential opportunity for event organizers. But because it’s difficult to take subjective feedback and turn it into a usable format, this also represents an areas for organizers to take advantage of innovation as it’s developed.


    Emerging Trends

    It’s hard to predict the future, but Association Laboratory’s research noted the following areas to keep an eye on:

    • Virtual or augmented reality and gamification
    • Remote participation and second screen technology
    • The use of artificial intelligence to automate routine interactions

    If you’d like to learn more about this research, along with practical ideas for attracting the next generation of attendees, I hope you’ll join us on November 14, 2017 from 2:30-5:00 pm. The OLC is the host venue for the complimentary Planning for the Meetings of Tomorrow seminar.

    Dean West, FASAE and President of Association Laboratory will discuss how emerging technologies are altering event registration, the attendee experience and post-event follow-up. Plus, there will be ample opportunity to meet with fellow peers and colleagues to network and ask questions.

    Register today to reserve your seat before space runs out!


  • 5 Corporate Meeting Trends to Watch for 2018

    by System.Collections.Generic.List`1[Telerik.Sitefinity.Model.IDataItem] | Sep 28, 2017

    Artificial intelligence. Green meetings. Corporate social responsibility initiatives. The rise of attendees using second screens. Corporate meeting trends may come and go. But a corporate meeting designed to create a positive attendee experience is always in style.

    How can planners and organizers keep their corporate meetings on-trend? With dozens of meetings and events at the OLC each quarter, we sat down with our crystal ball to identify five corporate meeting trends to keep an eye on for 2018.

    Designed for Experiential Learning

    The concept of experiential learning – rich learning from hands-on experiences and collaborative learning opportunities – has become a big meetings industry buzzword. More organizers are embracing this trend to increase the effectiveness and memorability of their meetings and events.

    Everything from hands-on learning labs and one-on-one mentor instruction to simulator-based training opportunities help attendees learn more effectively. More learning means more engagement and more satisfaction, which creates a positive and memorable experience that continues long after the meeting is over.

    Another reason experiential learning is on the rise is this approach appeals to a wide generation of attendees too, from millennials to baby boomers.

    Flexible Room Sets

    Hand-in-hand with the experiential learning trend is the use of non-traditional room set-ups. Organizers recognize that not everyone learns best in a typical lecture/classroom format.

    To create an environment more conducive to learning, organizers are veering from typical arrangements to alternative set-ups with comfortable seating, brainstorming hubs for group collaboration or even standing desks or tables with whiteboards.

    When attendees feel more comfortable, the exchange of ideas and information flows more freely.

    More Livestreams

    Forecasts project live meeting attendee is expected to grow 1.6 percent, with virtual attendance expected to rise 2.4 percent. 

    Nothing beats the learning and networking that comes from face-to-face meetings. But as meeting organizers continue to recognize the opportunity to reach a larger audience through virtual elements, expect to see more live videostreams as part of corporate meetings.

    The Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) successfully embraces this trend with their AANA Professional Excellence (APEx) courses. In-person attendees work with instructors one-on-one. But AANA also livestreams a portion of their live event to extend their event reach to remote attendees.

    The strategy is a win-win for both organizers and attendees. According to Digitell, a multimedia development company, “30 percent of people who watch a live stream of an event will attend the same event in person the following year.”

    Tighter Safety and Security

    After natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Irma plus global incidents on the rise, attendee security is top-of-mind for many organizers.

    Before signing a contract, organizers are putting more emphasis on asking key security-related questions like “Is security included in the rental fee?” and “Does the facility offer 24/7 closed-circuit monitoring?”

    And unlike the past, on-site security personnel is a good thing. Organizers are helping attendees feel safer and secure with visible security personnel. Precautions like this will continue as they show an organizer takes security seriously.

    Locally-Inspired Cuisine

    The idea of local cuisine began gaining in popularity as organizers looked for ways to be green and sustainable with F&B at their meetings. But now, organizers realize locally-inspired menus and specialties provide attendees with a taste of the host city – and also contributes to the idea of creating a memorable meeting experience.

    Look for more local – and healthier – options as meeting hosts recognize the opportunities for meals and breaks to not only nourish the body, but nourish the soul too.

    Contact us to give your next meeting a boost by incorporating these on-trend ideas.

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