Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 2012

Breaking Convention

By Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief
of what is “appropriate” behavior.

We employed this principle in subtle ways as we designed each environment. By adding a layer of props that were slightly incongruous, we introduced and welcomed new patterns and behaviors. Ultimately, those who used the space assigned to it a new meaning.

Fostering a sense of belonging
Over the course of the three-and-a-half days, participants establish routines within the conference environment. We actively sought out ways to encourage them to feel ownership of the place.

Integrating elements that were easily manipulated or controlled by the participants — such as lighting, spatial dividers, or movable carts — enabled individuals and small teams to establish a home base or camp. These elements were intuitive in their purpose and asked for users to “adopt” them. Because these elements were repeated throughout the entire space, participants felt a greater sense of belonging and mastery of the environment rather than staking out a single corner for the duration of the event.

Frank Graziano is principal researcher at Steelcase. His research and designs focus on emergent patterns and trends in human interactions.

Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Scott Doorley, Scott Witthoft , Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, 2012.

Olympic Legacy Having just hosted the largest event on the planet, London Mayor Boris Johnson understands the importance of the convention industry.  In a press release after the Olympic Games, he said: "The infrastructure we have built in London, including the array of new landmark hotels and inspirational event spaces appearing in and around the east of the city, is making our great capital a dream location for the conference industry.  ...The world has been watching how this city has hosted the Olympics, which I have no doubt will help lure further large events of this nature to London in the future."

Vancouver is still feeling the afterglow of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, according to Claire Smith, CMP, vice president of sales and marketing for the Vancouver Convention Centre.  "Ongoing legacies" from the Games are housed at the center, including the Olympic Cauldron and a display that showcases medals, relay torches, and a medal podium.  That's in addition to the center's "huge technological legacy," Smith said, "that allows us to capitalize on unprecedented technology infrastructure that was incorporated into the convention center to allow for the broadcast of the Olympics around the world from our building."

But perhaps even more important than these lasting reminders are more intangible ones, which "have had the biggest impact on us," Smith said.  "We have a greater sense of volunteerism, where it is now looked upon to be an honor (and cool) to volunteer and be involved in events; the community knows the importance and impact of events to our city, so there is a willingness to support and become involved.  We joke that if you appear now on the streets of Vancouver with a map open, it will take less than a minute before a helpful citizen (or two) comes up and asks if they can help you with directions.  This is a direct result of work the Olympic Organizing Committee did to prepare Vancouverites to welcome the world.

"We have gained expertise, knowledge, and skills within our event community from hosting the Olympics that makes us better, smarter, and more creative," Smith said.  "We have a greater sense of pride of our country and our city, which has given us more confidence.  And we certainly have a legacy of greater awareness of Vancouver and Whistler that makes it easier to have conversations with potential customers about the

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