This year’s Connect Marketplace was Aug. 22-24, 2013, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Produced by Collinson Media & Events, a senior leader in the meetings, travel and tourism industry, it had many people talking long after the last session wrapped. This reverse trade show set an innovative scene with its appointment-only design and celebrity guest speakers. It was the happening place to network and receive high-quality education from industry experts. We spoke with attendee, Mark Hubrich, who gave us the post-event 411 on why this was THE place to CONNECT!
Q: I understand that you were a co-presenter of one of the educational workshops, ROI Strategy: Outlining the Value of Your Meetings. Can you tell us how that went?
Hubrich: “The great news about it is that we had a pretty full room, probably about 50-60 people I would say. It was about a 3 hour workshop (1-4) with a short break in between, but people were so into the material that quite a few stayed afterwards to make sure they could review everything, like the practices and exercises that we gave them at the end. It was kind of surprising for a workshop starting at 1 that a lot of people stayed until 4:15 to 4:30. Overall, I thought that went really well.”
“One of the challenges I ran into, which I think is common at different venues, but we were in a banquet room that was in the back of the hotel that had limited internet connectivity. So a good suggestion for meeting planners out there that are planning on using technology, make sure you have Wi-Fi passwords at your venue. That way, attendees can get on Wi-Fi to download session materials. I also recommend checking the internet capability of an educational room before you go into it. Regardless, I was still able to showcase a lot of the examples from a technology perspective on how to track and how to prove event ROI, using it both for event registrations and for tracking spending in our Spend Management Tool. A lot of people said they saw a lot of interesting components to think about when they’re rolling out technology.”
Hubrich: “Most of the session was about her material, which was great. She’s taught a number of classes on this in the past few years. She gave a lot of good formulas that meeting planners can use to track how their ROI is going for the expenses as well as tracking the goals of the conference or meeting that they’re putting on. Monica is a great presenter in that respect. She’s definitely a veteran when it comes to being an educational speaker like this.”
Q: Surrounding the topic of ROI, what do you think some of the common themes are for planners today?
Hubrich: “I think that ROI is a little different when you’re talking to different clients. We did this session at the 2013 Collaborate Marketplace in Denver, CO back in June. It’s a little bit different ROI perspective when you’re talking to corporations as opposed to talking about associations and non-profits. Associations and non-profits typically don’t control a lot of spend, or travel, or hotel blocks for people coming to their conference. People usually pay on their own, so those components of ROI tracking aren’t as relevant to associations as they would be to a corporate user of this kind of product.”
“A lot of these groups may be doing events that incorporate sponsorships. So it’s helping them track ROI for the people that are helping them put on the conference, for the suppliers, and for their sponsors. That’s an area that we talked about quite a bit.”
Q: I read that this was a reverse trade show? Can you explain that to our readers?
Hubrich: “That’s something that has become more popular over the last few years. I think that Collinson Media & Events was one of the first to initiate this type of event, where the planners actually sit in a specific location in the banquet hall, or wherever the venue is, and the suppliers kind of walk around the rooms and meet up with the planners that have gone through a matching process to make sure it’s a good fit between the two appointments. It’s a bit like speed dating in the fact that you have 6 minutes for each appointment, and you have 2 minutes to find your next appointment.”
“For the suppliers in the room, it can be a lot of running around and rushing to get to the next place at first. You really have to try to control your conversation so you don’t get into anything lengthy, because you only have 6 minutes. It was kind of funny towards the end of each day. I think, for the most part, everyone had gotten it down pat. You would sit down next to someone and you’re like, “Okay, what do you do and tell me why I should be interested in what you have to offer?” That’s one thing I think was a big benefit of the reverse tradeshow theme. It really gets you to tailor and practice your elevator pitch for whatever service you’re offering so that you can reach a maximum number of interested parties in a short amount of time.”
Q: Which speakers did you enjoy the most?
Hubrich: “To me, Magic Johnson was probably one of the best speakers of the conference, because he’s just such a nice guy, and it was really interesting to hear his story. He was very engaging and had the crowd standing pretty much the entire time. He basically walked through the entire audience and stopped every 5 or 10 feet to shake people’s hands or to take a picture with them. He had everyone on their feet and got them really excited about his presentation. I didn’t get to meet him but our VP of Sales, Matt Hodge, was able to get a picture with him backstage, so that was really cool.”
“One of the other speakers that I really enjoyed was Davis Guggenheim. He was the director of documentary called, Waiting for Superman. He’s a professor who’s really promoting Charter Schools and educating minorities to help lift them out of poverty with better education programs. He talked about different case studies involved with what he’s been working on, as well as a lot of the material behind the movie. Charter Schools can definitely be an avenue for improving education in this country. I thought that was a really important and powerful message to bring to this industry to get everyone thinking about what they can personally to help these kids achieve a better future. As we get older, it’s the younger generation who are going to be the leaders of our country, and we have to start thinking about that now. So, he was also a really interesting presenter.”
Q: Final thoughts about the conference?
Hubrich: “Milwaukee did a great job of showcasing their city, and I definitely plan to attend next year. We always get a great return from being a part of Collinson Events, and it’s something we look to continue doing in the future.”