"Revolutionize the way the world thinks about meetings"

Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association, PCMA

For your annual conference Convening Leaders in a few days you have chosen "Starting the [R]evolution" as theme. Why?
It’s clear that the business of meetings and events continues to evolve. What was important 15 years ago is not necessarily important at all in today’s environment. At Convening Leaders in Boston, we want to work together, as industry leaders, to revolutionize the way the world thinks about and engages with meetings. In Boston, we’ll think differently about the ways we’ve always done things and explore new opportunities to continue to evolve our industry for the better.

Why do you offer along with your annual conference in Boston a hybrid event?
Our hybrid event allows us to reach an audience that can not physically attend in Boston – last year more than 20 countries attended with more than 60% non-members. It helps us engage the industry with PCMA and its top meeting content. It has also been shown to help grow our onsite attendance.

Which sessions does it contain and how do you involve remote participants?
The full list of sessions is here. It contains all of our keynotes and featured sessions along with some concurrent sessions we believe will appeal to our target audience. We’re offering 20+ hybrid sessions [from the 160+ face-to-face session] over 3 days.

What should associations consider if they think about running a hybrid conference?
Associations need to understand their objectives behind running an event and then build the experience from there. We are broadcasting 3 days of live education for Convening Leaders but only broadcast one day for our mid-year Conference because we have different objectives. Associations need to understand the costs associated with the event and plan it with as much care and enthusiasm as they do their face-to-face event. This is a great article that we wrote to give an overview of what’s important.

Which are the main three issues for association meetings these days?
a. The development and capture of new revenue streams – those that continue to rely solely on historic and traditional channels will find themselves in a financial freefall – this is for both their face-to-face events and product and services offerings.

b. The evolution of the association membership model – there will always be those that want to join a community; but for associations to remain relevant to their diverse audiences, they will need to have a two-pronged engagement strategy that services both members and customers – those who desire, at will, to jump in and out of the organization’s community.

c. The-speed-of-technology and the transformation that comes with it – any association that has the same org chart it did two years ago is behind the technology eight-ball. What was cool technology last year is old-school this year. Again, relevancy is at stake here – it’s critical that associations update their resource and technology infrastructure and integrate the latest tools and products to be considered “of-value” to their audiences.

Headquartered in Chicago, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) represents more than 6,000 meeting industry leaders throughout the globe. With 17 chapters in the United States, Canada and Mexico, members include planner and trade show/exhibit professionals, suppliers, faculty, students and Emeritus. For the annual conference "Convening Leaders" 3,800 delegates are expected to come to Boston from 12 to 15 January 2014, 1,000 to join in remotely. http: //pcma. org, http: //conveningleaders. pcma. org