Convening Leaders, the annual convention of the Professional Convention Management Association, is an industry event that’s never been afraid of taking risks.
Here are 10 things that PCMA CL23, which brought 3,300 attendees to the Columbus Convention Center last week, did right.
Let’s start with this year’s private performance by Ohio native John Legend at Nationwide Arena. PCMA is known for bringing in big-name entertainers, with Willie Nelson and Peter Frampton taking the stage in previous years. There’s no question that it’s a draw for registration, a memory-maker for attendees, and an overall smart strategy a la Dreamforce. Other big names on the CL stage this year included Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and presidential contender, who moderated an industry panel; organizational psychologist Adam Grant; Thomas Barg and Ammar Kandil, creators of Yes Theory; and author Daniel Pink.
From its ADA accommodations, to a partnership with the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association (which held its networking reception featuring Columbus’ beloved drag queen, Anisa Love) to a strategic alliance with the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (and many other examples), CL walked the talk when it comes to inclusiveness.
Elevated Rest Rooms
PCMA brought in the Montreal-based outlet Les Cabinets to pretty up the bathrooms in the convention center with amenities like mouthwash, gum, lotions and toiletries, dental floss—even orchids! Can we please have them at every industry meeting?
Show Daily Recycling
There were bins everywhere for this often-misplaced newspaper. Bravo!
At the dining areas on the show floor, attendees could simply place their dirty dishes on a table and volunteers separated everything into bins. You didn’t even have to do it yourself, which most likely led to a much greater chance of items being sorted correctly.
Local First Options
There were signs everywhere that local purveyors were used for F&B, including this hearty IPA from Columbus Brewing Company.
These Flowater stations were scattered throughout the convention center, and appeared to be getting a lot of use. They need to be a permanent fixture at all of our meetings in 2023—and they can be sponsored!
It was nice to see a graphic recorder drawing on paper rather than high-tech boards. A big part of this art form is that the drawings can be taken down after the event and hung on the walls back in the office, to remind everyone of the discussions that occurred at the meeting.
Free COVID Supplies
SafeExpo was set up right outside The District (as the trade show floor is called) with free masks, COVID tests and information.
PCMA: Creative Convention F&B
Gone are the days of boring convention food. From charcuterie boxes to jarred salads (including one with fresh ahi tuna and green beans) to bite-size avocado toasts and smoked salmon bites, the convention center’s catering team showcased its creativity at every turn.
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