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    The experiment supports the idea that experiences can be more effective than money at driving performance.

    A new study by the Incentive Research Foundation details the use of biometric techniques to measure 42 subjects’ responses to choosing cash or noncash rewards.

    The survey, detailed in Conscious and Unconscious Reward Preference & Choice: A Biometric Experiment, captured a range of measurements, including eye tracking, pupil dilation, galvanic skin response, and facial movements. The researchers used the data to assess each subject’s response to a type of reward at both the cognitive level and the reflexive, unconscious level by measuring responses before and immediately after a period of contemplation. The research was conducted by Flying Horse Communications with the help of Steve Genco, PhD, author of Neuroscience for Dummies

    The experiment found that what people consciously choose as a reward doesn’t necessarily match what they unconsciously actually prefer. At an unconscious level, and after a period of contemplation, nearly two-thirds showed an unconscious attraction to noncash rewards.

    When researchers offered subjects a choice of rewards ranging from financial rewards like a gas or Amazon gift card, to goods like a TV or grill, or travel rewards such as a cruise, family holiday, or beach vacation, eye dilation indicated that subjects were overwhelmingly drawn to the travel options.

    In an experiment monitoring eye tracking, subjects took the longest time to fixate on cash, suggesting that it is not intrinsically motivating but rather a “default” choice.

    However, the findings suggest that after considering the options, subjects realized that while noncash rewards would make them happier, when subjects felt under pressure to make a decision, they saw cash as the most fungible option.

    Melissa Van Dyke, IRF President, said, “The IRF is excited that the experiment confirms the research findings in the 2015 Landmark Study in which the majority of survey participants displayed a preference for noncash rewards when the entire experience was considered.”








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    This week’s lesson and two-minute daily practice will help you learn how to focus your attention on what you are grateful for.

    MeetingsNet has partnered with mindfulness leadership expert Holly Duckworth, CMP, CAE, to bring you seven weeks of Mindful Monday mini-messages and two-minute practices to help bring more mindfulness to your work and life.
    Week 1: Centering 
    Week 2: Examine Your Beliefs  
    Week 3: Set Powerful Intentions  
    Week 4: Create a Vision 
    Week 5: Mindful Movement 

    How did we get to December 11 already? Mindfulness is the practice of becoming awake and aware in the present moment, so first take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you feeling the increased energy, and the increased anxiety, that comes along for many at this time of year? Remember that you can use the mindfulness skills you have been practicing for six weeks now to choose how you want to participate in each event this season.

    Week 6 Mini-Practice: Gracious Gratitude
    Robert A. Emmons, PhD, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. This week, even as you work through the busyness of personal, work, and holiday commitments, write down three to five things you are grateful for each day.

    Remember: When you put your attention on something, it will be increasingly present in your life. Why not put your attention on what you are grateful for?

    Download your Mindful Meeting Professional mini-poster at

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    TSA PreCheck members could benefit from using Global Entry biometric data recognition.

    The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly examining the benefits of merging the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck airport security programs. The two programs are currently overseen by different agencies. TSA PreCheck is a domestic program that allows approved travelers to skip regular lines at security, it costs $85 for a five-year membership, and is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration. Global Entry is overseen by United States Customs and Border Protection, it costs $100 to apply, and is available to citizens of 11 countries as well as the U.S., including the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, and Mexico. Travelers in the Global Entry program can speed through customs and immigration at major international airports in the U.S. and other participating countries.

    A merger could be beneficial to TSA PreCheck members as some travelers have found that the program has become a victim of its own success. There are now 12 million members, which means that occasionally wait times for trusted travelers are longer than for non-program members. There are other benefits of the program too—members don’t have to take off their shoes or open laptops—but for most members the speed at which they get through security is the biggest draw. The Global Entry program now uses biometric technology at many of its international entry points, allowing users to skip the immigration line and go through a kiosk with a fingerprint or facial recognition scanner. If the DHS merges both programs then the same technology can be used for both sets of travelers, theoretically making the programs cheaper, by using shared technology and infrastructure; faster, by moving TSA PreCheck members into automated security lines and eliminating the possibility of nonmembers being moved into the PreCheck line when regular lines are too long; and increasing security by using biometric data to identify travelers.




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    The proposals were aimed at disclosing baggage costs and revenue.

    On Thursday, the Department of Transportation withdrew a proposal to force airlines to disclose baggage fees at the beginning of the ticket-purchasing process. Although airlines have to provide baggage fees before a final purchase, the proposal aimed to save travelers from going through a multistep process in order to compare flight prices.

    The DoT is also withdrawing a rule that would require airlines to disclose how much revenue is generated from fees for add-on services, including checked and carry-on baggage costs.

    Charles Leocha, president of Travelers United, called the move “a dereliction of duty for the DOT to stop its review of unfair and deceptive pricing of ancillary fees, which make it impossible for consumers to comparison shop for the best costs of airfare.”

    According to the Fare Compare website, for regulation-sized checked bags can range from free to $65; oversize checked bags can cost up to $200; and on some airlines, including Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit, carry-on bags can cost between $15 and $65.

    Connecticut Senator Blumenthal tweeted that the withdrawal of the proposals constitute “a slap in the face for travelers who deserve clarity when buying a ticket.”







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    This week’s lesson and two-minute daily practice will help you learn how to be more mindful about how you use technology in your work and life.

    MeetingsNet has partnered with mindfulness leadership expert Holly Duckworth, CMP, CAE, to bring you seven weeks of Mindful Monday mini-messages and two-minute practices to help bring more mindfulness to your work and life.

    Week 1: Centering 
    Week 2: Examine Your Beliefs  
    Week 3: Set Powerful Intentions
    Week 4: Create a Vision
    Week 5: Mindful Movement 
    Week 6: Gracious Gratitude 

    Mindful meeting professionals acknowledge the stress of their chosen careers—many even thrive on the multitasking and the process, because it enables them to change people’s lives.  However, if you don’t take care of you first, you can’t take care of others.

    Week 7 Mini-Practice: Mindful Use of Technology
    The average American spends 11 hours on screens—at home and at work—each day. As a mindful meeting professional, be aware of how much time you spend on your devices, and look to find ways to reduce those screen-time hours.  If that is not possible, try to be more mindful as you keep your hands on the phone or keyboard.

    Think about the practices you already are doing and apply them to your use of technology. 

    • Center on why you are going to use that technology.

    • Examine your beliefs around how many hours is too many.

    • Set an intention for what you will become as a result of using the technology.

    • Create a vision for your technology interface.

    • Introduce movement into your technology time.

    • Feel gratitude for the gift technology brings.

    Another way to make your use of tech more mindful is to add a mindfulness app or two to help you at work, when traveling, or even on your commute. My favorite three apps are Happier, Calm, and Headspace

    In the 24/7/365 world we live in where being busy is a badge of honor, I hope these mini-lessons on mindfulness each Monday have helped you become more aware of what mindful living is, and how you can become more mindful by practicing these lessons just a few minutes each day. Keep practicing through the end of the month, then join us in January to learn more basic mindfulness techniques. 

    Download your Mindful Meeting Professional mini-poster at If you would like to spread these messages of mindfulness to your event participants, email your specific needs to me at to learn how I can help as a keynote speaker, training provider, or personal mindfulness coach.





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    Photos of some of the more than 1,000 association and industry professionals who participated in the ASAE 2017 Technology Conference & Expo.

    The ASAE Technology Conference and Expo, held December 11–13 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., featured a sold-out expo floor, 25 high-level sessions, and a keynote by an actual rocket scientist—NASA's Adam Steltzner, who spoke about how to spur innovation. Other keynotes included a panel Community Town Hall discussion on mergers and acquisitions, and an interactive Fail Fest closing session that explored how failures can lead to improved systems and organizational changes. 

    ASAE also hosted three pre-conference events:

    • Digital Convergence summit—A full-day program, hosted by Community Brands and Visit San Jose, that focused on data analytics, data privacy, and data strategy, as well as how associations are dealing with any related data challenges and opportunities.

    • Women Executives Forum—hosted by Choose Chicago, the forum focused on the challenges and opportunities facing women leaders and how artificial intelligence has influenced the future of families, work, and society.

    • Keep it Clean: Harness the Power of Gold Standard Data Hygiene—This session taught participants how to develop a strategic framework for data management and key performance Indicators they could then take back to their offices and implement.

    Next year’s conference will be held December 4–5 at the same facility. 

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    Email management can be a nightmare, but these simple tricks can help.

    Email management can be the bane of a meeting planner's existence. This infographic by James Brockbank at SilverDoor  outlines some of the tricks Microsoft Outlook for Windows provides to help make what can be a tedious task much, much better.

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    Safety measures are becoming more common for housekeeping and other staff routinely at risk of abuse.

    The recent spate of sexual harassment scandals may be helping hotel workers make the case for employer-provided safety procedures. Unionized hotel workers in New York City have access to safety features because of the 2011 case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York Hotel, and although the case was ultimately dismissed, it highlighted the vulnerability of employees working alone in large hotels. Members of the union Unite Here working in NYC hotels have had access to GPS-equipped panic buttons, electronic whistles that alert security personnel, or iPads that can trigger a call for help since 2013. 

    The recent scandals involving Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile celebrities have helped the case for hotel workers outside NYC to get similar protections. In Chicago in November a city ordinance now requires that hotel housekeepers be given panic buttons that identify their location. According to the Miami Herald, authorities in Miami Beach are looking into legislation on mandatory panic buttons for hotel staff, and possibly other protections for workers who report harassment and monitoring for guests with a history of improper behavior.

    Other cities in the U.S., including Seattle, Wash., have adopted similar policies.

    A United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report on sexual harassment found that:

    Sexual harassment is a serious problem for women working in the hospitality industry, due in part to "the unusual hours and conditions of work, the interactions of persons in the delivery of service, and traditional personnel practices in the industry." Women who work as hotel employees report facing sexual harassment from coworkers, supervisors, and hotel guests.

    2016 report by Unite Help found that more than 50 percent of housekeepers had dealt with some kind of sexual harassment.



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  • 01/01/18--13:04: Your Legal Primer for 2018

  • Start the new year armed with these contract how-tos to negotiate with confidence and avoid contract disasters.

    MeetingsNet covered the essential legal knowledge for meeting planners pretty extensively in 2017. From force majeure to food and beverage costs, it pays to know when to compromise and when to walk away from the negotiation. 

    Here’s a refresher course.

    Don’t Skip the Fine Print
    Lawyers tell us the rookie mistakes even seasoned negotiators make.

    Why Your Conference Needs a Code of Conduct
    Today’s sexual harassment headlines underline the need to have a policy in place for when attendees behave badly.

    Contract Cross Examination, Part 1: 9 Tough Attrition Questions
    A legal expert tackles how to calculate attrition, what elements should be included, and dealing with clients who insist on not including an attrition clause. 

    Contract Cross Examination, Part 2: What’s In Your Cancellation Clause?
    Attorney Tyra Hilliard answers your burning cancellation clause questions, from hotels going hypothetical to the ethics of refusing to add room resale into the contract. 

    Contract Cross Examination, Part 3: What Falls Under Force Majeure?
    Attorney Tyra Hilliard takes on questions about acts of god, acts of politicians, and other potential situations that could make your event “illegal, impossible, or impracticable.”

    8 Ways to Negotiate a Fair Attrition Clause Both Sides Can Live With
    Attrition can be the bane of a meeting planner’s contractual existence—but it doesn’t have to be.

    Penalties Are for Hockey Games, Not Meeting Contracts
    What you need to know about the difference between penalties and damages to keep your contract off thin ice and out of the penalty box.

    Yes, You Do Need a Cancellation Clause
    “If I had a quarter for every time a planner has told me, ‘Oh, we would never cancel a meeting—we don’t need a cancellation clause,’ and then had a cancellation, I’d be rich,” says attorney, speaker, and law professor Tyra Hilliard, Esq., PhD, CMP.

    What Planners Need to Know About Cruising Contracts
    Industry attorney Joshua Grimes offers some tips that will keep meeting professionals from feeling at sea when they take their groups on a cruise. 

    Is Your Meeting Illegal, Impossible, or Impracticable?
    When is a meeting cancellation not a cancellation? When the situation rises to the level of force majeure. This could be anything from a natural disaster to a terrorist attack to civil unrest—anything that kills the possibility of holding your meeting.

    Are These 4 Hotel Sales Practices Costing You Money?
    You have your secret strategies to get the most out of every meeting dollar. Hotel sales departments do, too.

    Can Your Force Majeure Clause Weather Today’s Storms?
    To stay ahead of a weather, civil unrest, or other potential meeting-cancelling situation, your clause should allow you to cancel before your meeting becomes impossible.

    Food and Beverage Guarantees: The Other Attrition
    Whether you call it a food and beverage guarantee or a minimum, face the facts: it’s really an attrition clause 

    Watch Out for Urban Fees
    You might not be able to negotiate them away—but you can try.



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    Let’s not get so lost in the tech razzle-dazzle and easy engagement “wins” that we forget just what meetings are supposed to be all about: people.

    In the midst of the year-end spate of predictions about what will be shaping the meetings industry in the new year, something in an IMEX 2018 trends report made me stop and think. A lot. IMEX picked up on what Alex Williams dubbed “the new age of anxiety” in a New York Times article earlier this year. Whether we’re actually any more anxious than people have been in other eras is certainly debatable, but given our always-on, always-connected, FOMO-based, social-media saturated, 24/7 news-cycle, tweet-infested reality, we’re anxious enough that the #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike hashtag is actually a thing.

    People are stressed already just by life these days, not to mention having to do two weeks’ worth of work to afford the time away to go to your event. Then add in a healthy wallop of travel craziness—TSA security lines, unforeseen baggage fees, flight delays, that kid kicking the seatback since Chicago—and people are already anxious and stressed by the time they get to registration.

    And meeting professionals, you’re not helping by offering up packed agendas, breaks that don’t actually give people a break, a diet of sugar and caffeine and carbs that have people bouncing around like so many crazed kangaroos, and late nights of partying that aren’t really zeroed out by a 6 a.m. fun run or yoga class by the pool.

    Let’s reward them with a more human experience. Let’s unpack the agenda a bit, replacing the mindless zipping from keynote to session to lunch to session to reception to party with a more thoughtfully human agenda. I was talking with someone recently about good experiences at events, and he mentioned the church camp he went to, where the kids learned a lesson, then were sent off to contemplate how to internalize that message and bring it into their everyday lives. We can do that at meetings too, build in time and spaces and the tools people need to absorb, dive deeper, and actually learn, not just tweet a sound bite or take notes that will never be looked at again.

    Especially in this new age of anxiety, we need pockets of meaning and connection. We need sanctuaries where our souls can detox from the constant dopamine drip we get with every social-media “like” and every step up on the leaderboard. so we can  We need to experience what it is that brings that deeper satisfaction—and I think meetings are the perfect place to do just that.

    Sure, you can do a sugar-high, dopamine-pumping meeting and people will love it. You’ll probably even get great evaluations. But then your next meeting will have to be even more of a sugar-high dopamine pumper now that you set that expectation. And if your goal is to provide that pocket of meaning and connection, that deeper dive, you’ll probably fall short. After all, blowing someone away is the exact opposite of pulling someone toward meaning and connection, isn’t it?

    Let’s stop chasing the quick hits and easy wins and think about what really matters—and how we can bring that into our meetings. There are some good ideas to get us started in the Purposeful Meetings white paper authored by Janet Sperstad and Amanda Cecil.

    But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of collective wisdom this industry has to tap into. How can we make our meetings more mindful, and more human? What would a truly human-centric meeting look, smell, sound, taste, and feel like?

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    While travelers from Michigan, New York, and Louisiana will not be able to use driver’s licenses as an airport ID starting January 22, those from nine other states now have until October. 

    The Department of Homeland Security has some good news this week for domestic travelers from some of the 12 states that have yet to introduce new driver’s licenses in compliance with REAL ID, the new identification standard.  The previous deadline for compliance was January 22, this year. Back in December 2017, the TSA had issued a warning to domestic flyers from Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington  that drivers licenses would no longer be acceptable to airport security and issued a list of other IDs  travelers should use to verify their identities. This week, the TSA confirmed that travelers from the states listed above will still be allowed on to domestic flights without additional forms of identification until October 11, 2018. However, travelers from Michigan, New York, and Louisiana, states that currently do not have an extension to implement REAL ID minimum standards, will still need a passport or other form of ID as a driver’s license will no longer be accepted to verify identity after January 22.

    The bottom line is: All domestic travelers will need a driver’s license with a gold star in the upper right corner indicating that it is REAL ID compliant by October 2020.

    Although these deadlines are in place to force state administrators to adopt the new standards, travelers should check DHS’s map to make sure they are not stopped by airport security.

    Green states: Travelers can use an unexpired driver’s license without the star so long as they renew and get an upgraded license by October 2020.

    Yellow states: Travelers can use a driver’s license until October 11, 2018, when
    1. They will require additional identification to pass airport security, or
    2. Their state will become compliant and they can use the old license until October 2020 or
    3. Their state will get another extension

    Blue states: Travelers must have additional ID to supplement a driver’s license to pass airport security after January 22.

    REAL ID is part of legislation passed in May 2005 to make all states comply with upgraded ID requirements such as bar codes and other machine-readable formats, holograms, and anti-forgery technology.


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    2017 will go down as a year of reckoning for the entertainment industry, news outlets, and politicians, as claims of sexual harassment across the board reared its ugly head. The recent scandals involving Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and other high-profile celebrities have shined a new light on a problem that has existed for some time. A cultural shift needs to occur and this important issue needs to be addressed on many fronts and given the respect it deserves. But what does this mean for those in the hospitality industry and what steps should be taken to ensure people feel safe and comfortable in office and event settings?

    According to a United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report on sexual harassment, as shared recently on MeetingsNet: “Sexual harassment is a serious problem for women working in the hospitality industry, due in part to the unusual hours and conditions of work, the interactions of persons in the delivery service, and traditional personnel practices in the industry.”

    AlliedPRA developed a white paper to guide our employees and field staff on efforts to eliminate hostile work environments, which is defined in part as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with an employee’s work performance.

    With this issue being on the forefront of what we see in our feeds, reports of sexual harassment are likely to increase. Which is actually positive. Where in the past employees subjected to sexually harassing conduct may have been apprehensive to make formal complaints for fear of retaliation or social intimidation, now they may feel empowered to step forward.

    As employers, we have a responsibility to provide a work environment that is free from discrimination, and once we have learned that discrimination has occurred, we must perform a thorough investigation, and take immediate action to remedy the situation. Not only does the law require it, but it is the right thing to do.”

    Steps to Take
    Steps to prevent, recognize, and respond to problems quickly must occur. This requires cultivating a culture where employees feel encouraged to report incidents without fear of reprisal and a management posture that gives reported incidents priority. While some reports may not meet the standards for further action, those that do may require an outside investigator to ensure an objective and thorough review. When wrongdoing is found, appropriate remedial measures can take the form of training, verbal counseling, one-on-one counseling/executive training, “last chance” agreements, demotions, salary reductions, rescinding of a bonus, terminations—or other measures that can put a stop to wrongful behavior.

    Policy Guidelines
    A policy that clearly states what is not tolerated, and training to ensure everyone is aware of the policy and enforcement methods should include:

    • Addressing the company’s philosophy on having a workplace free from discrimination, communicating the value in diversity, and identifying classes of protected individuals.
    • Establishing a stance on zero tolerance.
    • Setting clear definitions around prohibited conduct, so employees and other staff recognize it when they see it.
    • Instituting procedures to encourage employees to immediately report violations (whether as a bystander, or as the recipient of such conduct), without requiring them to report to their supervisor. These procedures should also make it mandatory that management and supervisors report all witnessed violations.
    • Detailing the company’s response and investigation procedures, with assurance that that all complaints will be followed by a fair, complete, and timely investigation.
    • Stating that, to the extent possible, confidentiality will be maintained.
    • Making it clear that employees who report in good faith or who participate in an investigation will not be subject to retaliation or reprisal.
    • Communicating the disciplinary procedures for violating the policy “up to and including termination.”

    Oftentimes, discussions on harassment prevention and response center on legal exposure and liabilities. It is important to remember that reports of sexual harassment involve real people with real emotions, and these instances affect lives. We certainly want to limit our exposure to such claims, but to a greater extent, we always want to protect our employees against being subjected to harassing conduct, and when reports are made, every effort should be made to treat all who are involved with dignity, understanding, and respect.

    Jamie Gardner is the director of talent and team development at global destination management company AlliedPRA. This post originally appeared on the company’s Connect blog.

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    Someone give our readers a backrub, please. The high stress level of event planning is evident to anyone on the front lines, but CareerCast’s just-released Most Stressful Jobs of 2018 report, puts an exclamation point on the issue: You’d be hard pressed to find a job that’s more stressful unless you want to carry a gun, walk into burning buildings, or have your office at 30,000 feet.

    While the end product—the event—is open to every attendees’ scrutiny, few understand what actually goes into the job. Putting on meetings and events requires obsessive organization and attention to detail; a level of savvy in (for starters) negotiation, marketing, social media, and budgeting; as well as creativity and great communication skills. And, of course, the stakes are often extremely high, whether the event is an association’s annual conference, a company’s annual sales meeting, or a rewards trip for top achievers.

    CareerCast rates work stress in terms of 11 factors: travel, career growth potential, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards encountered, meeting the public, competition, risk of death or grievous injury, immediate risk of another’s life, deadlines, and working in the public eye. And here’s what emerged as the top 10 most stressful jobs, along with their stress scores:
    1. Enlisted military personnel  72.47
    2. Firefighter  72.43
    3. Airline pilot  61.07
    4. Police officer  51.97
    5. Event coordinator  51.15
    6. Reporter  49.90
    7. Broadcaster  49.83
    8. Public relations executive  49.44
    9. Senior corporate executive  48.71
    10. Taxi driver  48.11

    Wondering what’s on the other end of the scale? According to CareerCast, diagnostic medical sonographers have the least stressful job of all, with a stress score of just 5.11.

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    We know that too much distraction is detrimental, and yet we still can’t put down that phone. Let’s change that.

    Whether you’re walking down the street or through an airport, at a restaurant, or in meetings and events, there’s one sight you’re guaranteed to see: people staring at their phones. And you may just be one of them.

    We go through the motions of day-to-day life while failing to invest any real concentrated effort into getting anything out of it. We’re lucky if we remember more than a quarter of that conversation we just had. We travel from place to place tuned out, lost in our heads and distracted by technology.

    We sacrifice time with our families and friends to answer emails and messages. We give up necessary sleep to check alerts and texts. We lose lives because drivers focus their attention on a screen and not on the road. While we may be exhausted by the end of the day, we feel we’ve accomplish nothing of any real value. We’re failing to honor what matters most.

    When do we say enough?

    When we commit to focusing our attention on what truly has meaning for us, everything in our lives flourishes. We feed our relationships, complete our event tasks, boost profits, increase productivity, and restore our accountability. When meeting professionals commit to avoiding interruptions in order to engage in conversations and truly connect with their teams, morale increases and profits soar. When coworkers remove daily distractions, they have time to focus on important tasks and achieve deadlines. When families commit to each other, their relationships grow and their need for superficial technological fulfillment decreases. When we as individuals realize we cannot operate in a 24/7 world and that we require rest and recovery to be our best selves, our productivity improves.

    Are you ready to make a change? Are you ready to admit you’re distracted? Are you ready to recognize it’s time to pay attention to what matters most? Let’s create moments that matter for our attendees, sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, teams—and ourselves.

    Join me on an #AttentionRevolution where we change our habits and behaviors so our distractions no longer decay and our attention pays.

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    Some of the sights from PCMA Convening Leaders in Nashville, Tenn.

    Professional Convention Management Association Convening Leaders 2018 took place at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. While attendees did not manage to break the Guinness World Record for the most people forming the shape of a musical instrument, they did break the record for most attendees at Convening Leaders, with over 4,500 meeting professionals.

    The event saw outgoing President and CEO, Deborah Sexton, pass the baton to incoming President and CEO, and former PCMA COO, Sherrif Karamat.

    Although many of the offsite events took place at museums, there was nothing stuffy about them. The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame & Grammy Museum both hosted parties with local food and drink (read: bourbon) and the Music City Center brought in multiple local singer-songwriters to entertain attendees.

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    We are each responsible for our own career progression, and we all benefit from the growth or our industry. That’s why I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to articulate our value in three ways:
    • The value you personally deliver to your organization
    • The value our industry provides to the global economy
    • The value of your community service 

    What You Deliver
    When you consider the value you personally bring to your company, think about your ability to:
    1. Drive business profitability and deliver on strategic objectives
    2. Design initiatives to align with core values and organizational goals
    3. Make business decisions or achieve sales based on data and metrics
    4. Quantify ROI for both the organization and attendee or client

    I urge everyone to craft a one- to two-minute "elevator" pitch that quickly and concisely articulates your value to leadership. You should have this rehearsed. Don’t think up something on the spur of the moment when the opportunity presents itself. Be proactive and be prepared!

    What Our Industry Delivers
    For the good of our industry, I suggest that we memorize a second brief speech that articulates the value of our industry to the economy. For example, a report commission by the Events Industry Council and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2012, the meetings industry contributed over $280 billion direct dollars to the economy, employed over 1.8 million people, and paid over $28 billion in federal, state and local taxes. (And preliminary results from an updated report look even more impressive.)

    What Your Service Delivers
    Let's not lose sight of the time you personally dedicate to making the world a better place! We typically don't articulate this value, because it feels self-serving. However, you should reflect on what you give back to the industry or to your community in volunteer time and acknowledge the value that you are providing to these great organizations. It may be as simple as participating in fulfilling Clean the World kits at IMEX, volunteering at the local chapter of an industry association, or fundraising for a non-profit, such as Make-A-Wish. 

    So as 2018 kicks off, I urge you to be prepared to articulate your value to your organization and to the community, in addition our industry’s value to the economy whenever possible!


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    Four ways to rid yourself of excess baggage when on the road.

    Picture it: Spring 2008. Barcelona. A large pink suitcase, a medium pink suitcase, a black leather laptop tote, and a purse. An escalator. What could possibly go wrong?

    When I was at the busiest point of my meeting management career, I traveled between 25 percent and 30 percent of the year to both domestic and international destinations. Despite many years of travel experience, I was a terrible packer. I traveled with far more luggage than necessary and used about half of what I packed, and ended up with unnecessary baggage fees and a sore shoulder or two. 

    Back to Barcelona. Business trips were the most challenging, since you need clothes for business meetings and evening engagements, and matching shoes. The taxi had dropped me off at the wrong terminal, and I found myself walking endlessly, trying to get to the correct one. That’s when I found myself with all of this luggage on an escalator, trying to get down to the next terminal. To my horror, the wheel of my large suitcase got stuck in the mechanism and halted the escalator, setting off a loud beep. A line of grumpy travelers behind me hefted up their own luggage and started walking down, some casting me looks along the way as they squeezed past me and my luggage.

    After that experience, I realized that I needed to change the way I packed. And I’d like to share what I learned with you.

    First, make a list.
    The easiest way to pare down what you’re putting in your luggage is to work from a list. (This helps you save money at the grocery store, too.) But don’t wait until just before you pack to make this list. The best way to ensure that you don’t forget anything is to build the list a few weeks before, and then review it once or twice before you pack to ensure you didn’t forget anything. Chances are that you will add and subtract things in that time, since moving through your routine will help you notice where there might be items you’ve forgotten or could live without.

    Then gather your items in one place.
    Since I was traveling at least one week a month, I really needed a separate set of toiletries and travel-related gear. Since much of this was on my list, I was able to build up a bit of an inventory while I was out and about—whenever I went to the pharmacy, I’d stock up on travel-sized soaps, lotions, and toothpaste. Because I loved my hair stylist’s hair-care line, I purchased some travel-sized products when I was there for my regular appointment. Even if you’re not traveling for a week or more, start to put aside your clothing in one place as you do your laundry, assuming you won’t wear it in the meantime.

    Pack, and then unpack.
    Oftentimes, I’ll pack items together per day, so that I have an idea of what to wear and unpacking and dressing on the road will be easier. This process also helps me eliminate the “just in case” items, since those typically go unused and add needless weight. Then, I unpack: When I’m done, I challenge myself to remove at least three items from the pile as well. 

    Downsize your actual luggage.
    While I had always sought out the largest possible suitcase in the past, I have now downsized and my largest piece of luggage is technically medium. This forces me to minimize what I pack, while knowing that I can easily fit enough for a week in that one case. 

    In summary: Make a list of what you need, review it, build your travel-sized item inventory along the way, and then edit your packing in real time. Building this into your routine when you’re not traveling will help you enjoy the process in anticipation of a fun trip, and will help you be efficient.

    Do you have any packing tips that I missed? Share them!

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    An innovation expert suggests we are all responsible for nurturing (and stifling) innovation.

    David Owens, PhD, began his presentation at Professional Convention Management Association Convening Leaders in Nashville with a photo of a bumper sticker saying, “Creative People Must Be Stopped!” The message summed up his session, “Everybody Wants Innovation (but No One Wants to Change).”

    Owens, a professor of the practice of management and innovation at Vanderbilt University, asked the audience to name five proven ways to increase innovation in an organization and, after a slow start, they came up with a few ideas, including brainstorming sessions, time outs to think about challenges, and moving workers around between departments so that fresh eyes could look at old processes. Then Owens asked for 50 ways to stop innovation, and the floodgates opened. Owens was given more ideas than he could keep up with, from citing budget constraints to committees to appoint committees to select committees to consider ideas. It was a stark illustration that we are all well-versed in ways to stifle innovation but have to struggle to think of ways to encourage it.

     Owens asked, “What if we just stopped stopping innovation?”

    3 Ways to Support Innovation

    The best way to support innovation, according to Owens, is to support innovative ideas, good and bad, and then identify the good ones and act on them, based on data, not fear.

    He suggested that there are three steps involved in the creation of innovative ideas, and organizational structure, market forces, and risk-averse policies can stifle each step.

    1.     Perception. In order to have an idea about innovating a process or strategy, employees need to see the big picture. Without data, it is hard to see solutions to problems, and organizing employees into silos can make it hard for them to even recognize inefficiencies, let alone consider solutions.

    2.     Intellection. Employees need to be able to think about what they are doing rather than constantly playing catchup with tasks.

    3.     Expression. People are often afraid to articulate an idea because they are afraid of being wrong, or of being seen as criticizing the company or colleagues. Sharing ideas is an act of courage and employees have to trust in the organization in order to ask dumb questions, make suggestions, and share insights.

    In order to support this three-step process, an organization must create a space that encourages employees to recognize areas of improvement, question the status quo, and feel safe enough to share their ideas.

    Identifying Good Ideas

    Once an innovation has been suggested, Owen said the only way to determine if it is a good or a bad idea is to take it out into the world and get input. He said, “For an idea to work, your organization must be able to execute on it. Do you have the capability to try it? Is there a favorable market for the idea? Does it fit with other people’s idea of a good thing? If you can satisfy all these requirements, you have innovation.”

    But if the response is negative, consider the reasons before dismissing it. Responses such as, “We’d have to do X first and that is not our department…” or “We have thought about doing this before but nothing happened…” suggest the problem lies with your organizational structure, not the idea.  

    Owens cautioned that managers often stifle innovation because it is not always easy to identify. He gave two examples of ideas that took off.

    The first involves the Vitruvian Man sketch by Leonardo da Vinci. The sketch illustrates an idea from the architect Vitruvius about the ideal mathematical proportions of the human body. On examination, Owens said that the proportions are not close to average human proportions and in practice they are no indication of ideal beauty—it is a terrible idea that lingered for centuries. He said, “600 years ago a guy had an idea, and Da Vinci drew a picture of it that was so compelling people believed it.” Owens gave a second example: “What if someone said to you, ‘How about letting a series of total strangers live in your house with all your things for a few days at a time?’ Would you recognize that for a good idea? Because Airbnb is a multimillion-dollar company now.” 

    Owens finished his presentation by cautioning that group culture is predisposed to say no to innovation because groups tend to like cohesion and rocking the boat causes disagreements. Managers need to encourage group members to speak out in order to create a culture of innovation.

    He said, “Studies show that people who criticize ideas are perceived as having a higher IQ than people who don’t have any input, so in many cases people with ideas don’t articulate them because they are afraid of being seen as dumb. Your team members may criticize an idea to show they understand it, not necessarily because they oppose it.”

    Lastly, Owens reminded the audience that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, so don’t give up on an idea at the first hurdle. Innovation often starts small and builds upon incremental successes.








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