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74 MPI MEETINGS OUTLOOK: 2016 Summer Edition
add-on,” she says.
of;ice, which organizes videoconferences that include anywhere from 20 to hundreds of
attendees, has prioritized the experience of joining these
gatherings to such an extent that it has developed a spec-i;ication guide for videoconferences, offering guidance
on topics such as where the speaker should sit for the
best sound quality, how to ensure that remote participants can easily join the discussion and that remote and
non-remote participants all take breaks and lunch at the
“For us to be successful when we are a doing a video-conference meeting, it has to be set up like any meeting,
where best practices come into play,” she says.
Though many meeting organizers are putting technology front and center, providers say they still have
some educating to do, when it comes to integrating it
successfully into meetings.
Mark Awad (MPI Toronto Chapter), business development manager at bb Blanc, an audiovisual and entertainment ;irm headquartered in Toronto, has found that
some planners don’t allow enough lead time for audiovisual quotes for large programs.
“I can’t say every planner does that, but a couple
of times this year, it really affected the outcome for an
event,” he says.
Sometimes, his ;irm is asked to get involved in meetings well past the stage where it could be most helpful, he
and colleagues have found.
Mike Agard, an account manager who works with
Awad at bb Blanc, says the ;irm recently did some
last-minute work as a supplier for a large-scale event for
1,600 people for a large tech company in Toronto that included a trade show and breakout rooms. bb Blanc only
learned it had won the bid about a month beforehand.
“We basically had less than a month to make it all
happen,” he says. Ideally, he adds, event planners would
involve an AV ;irm in an event of that scale about a year
“If AV companies were there from the start, we could
say, ‘Does this room work for this amount of people?’”
he says. “A lot of times I end up having to do ;loor plans
and squish people in.”
Given tight turnarounds, their ;irm is well aware that
it has to provide quotes much more quickly than in the
past and plan and schedule production and labor more
rapidly, as well. To offset those challenges, the ;irm has
tried to educate planners so they understand that more
planning time is needed to make the most of technology.
“It’s the tool that’s going to
get the message across—which
is the real reason for the event,
whether you are delivering some
type of message, doing a product
launch or speaking about a speci;ic cause,” Awad says.
REMAIN IN CHECK
Although the Zika virus and threats of terrorism have
been in the news, these did not show up often among respondent concerns in the survey, which was conducted
May 18-31 (notably, prior to the mass shooting in Orlando). However, Sharon Schenk, CMP (MPI New England
Chapter), director, conventions and event management
at CCA Global Partners Inc., a large ;loor covering cooperative in Manchester, N.H., and St. Louis, Mo., has been
keeping abreast of reports on Zika and news on infected
areas, given that her ;irm plans conventions in and incentive trips to warm places—the Southern U.S. and the
“Their safety is the most important concern to our
team,” she says.
Schenk has made it a regular part of her routine to
check government websites to see where outbreaks are
originating and keep up with preventative measures.
“I try to keep up-to-date on the virus and build our
contingency plan accordingly,” she says.
At the same time, she adds, “I’m taking the media
hype with a grain of salt. It’s a very delicate balance. You
have to look at the odds.” n
of respondents identified the ideal length of
a traditional conference presentation with a
single speaker as 20 or 30 minutes.
planning time is need
SHARON SCHENK, CMP
MPI New England Chapter
Director, Conventions and Event Management
for CCA Global Partners Inc.
“I try to keep up-to-date on the
virus and build our contingency
plan accordingly. I’m taking the
media hype with a grain of salt. It’s a
very delicate balance. You have to
look at the odds.”