This year’s Smart Monday powered by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) took experiential, legacy, innovation and technology to “wow” levels and had attendees buzzing with energy and ideas.
A call to action and new industry whitepaper for legacy
The opening keynote, featuring Julius Solaris, Editor of Event Manager Blog started the week off on an engaging note by delivering a passionate call to action – asking meeting planners to think of themselves not just as logistics wizards but also legacy creators and change makers.
To illustrate, Julius drew on powerful stories and tips from a new, free industry whitepaper “The Power of Events – 29 Inspiring Examples to increase the Impact of Your Events and Create a Long-lasting Legacy.” Produced by Event MB and commissioned by IMEX in association with ProColombia, the white paper shows legacy building at its best. Examples include the Soccer Club Recife in Brazil which used game-time videos to move 60,000 fans to become organ donors and the Festival of Transactional Architecture that chose the earthquake-rocked ‘red zone’ in Christchurch New Zealand as their destination to help revitalize the city.
Julius also stressed that legacy can take many forms, including contributing to positive change within the meetings industry itself like BlizzCon. This popular gaming convention uses technology to create new best practices for engaging those members of its tribe who just can’t be at the live event.
In return for the energy Julius put behind the Legacy topic, people got the message: “I cried,” said Heather Larson CMP, Meet Chicago. “It reminded me that when people get together for meetings it can be a real force for good, and not to be afraid to go for that.”
Learning, innovation and cotton candy
With the inspiration of legacy under their belts, attendees then moved into the full Smart Monday experiential and learning sessions where they were greeted by MPI’s festive Carnival theme. Complete with balloons, games of skill and cotton candy, the Carnival elements were interlaced with hands-on activities such as a giant coloring book, doggy petting with Paws for a Break and recycled hygiene kit making with Clean the World.
The session line-up was also once again a strong one, ranging from workshops on Cybersecurity, Leadership 2.0 and Event Design to Sustainability, Women in the Industry and Wellness at the Be Well Lounge.
A new addition this year, The Six Star Innovation and Experience Lab (sponsored by Detroit Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau), followed through on its promise to offer 10 ideas in 10 minutes. The lab had people speechless over their ability to meet and interact with the ultra-humanlike robot Sophia, as well as taking an eye-opening VR tour of Detroit. There were also insights to be had on experiential gifting, how to put music into action featuring a live, air guitar session with iconic rock band Journey’s lead singer, and more.
Continuing on the innovation thread, C2 made their IMEX America debut with a session on attendee centric events and PCMA led a class on putting design thinking to work for more innovation, which was sponsored by Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Another perennial favorite, Play with a Purpose, filled the IMEX Play Room with engaging activities and classes, including writing inspirational messages to children on painted rocks, learning how to “Negotiate like a Pirate,” and offering paper flowers to be “picked” with legacy-inspired, kindness ideas on the back.
Smart Monday also served as a great meet-up spot once again for peer to peer mind-melds.
Executive Meeting Forum (EMF) offered education and networking exclusively for corporate meeting executives who joined together to challenge industry norms and current ways of doing business. Attendees discussed different leadership styles and techniques and the challenges around financial management, including how to deliver quality programs with limited budget.The EMF supporting partners were Caesars Entertainment and Dubai.
Kelly Curry, Office Depot, commented: “EMF offers an informal, transparent environment where you can share issues and challenges – it’s like group therapy! Participating in the Forum reminds you that you’re part of a wider meetings and events industry. Our discussions so far have shown how many of us are in the same position, regardless of the specific sector we operate in. We’ve talked through different aspects of leadership and budget– all highly relevant for my job.”
Association Leadership Forum, created by ASAE and sponsored by Meet Hawaii, is likewise a tribe-driven event where association leaders are inspired and challenged by leadership visionaries and role models on topics such as new membership models, diversity and inclusion, embracing technology and more.
“I came last year and got so much out of it. I was really keen to come back,” said Amelia Hodges, North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants about Association Leadership Forum. “It was so good to meet people from associations all over the world who face similar issues such as volunteer engagement, and good to get perspective on common topics.”
Smart Monday, powered by MPI, wraps up with a new offering — Lip Smacking Foodie Tours on the Vegas Strip and Downtown – plus the ever-popular networking at SITE Nite North America and Association Evening.