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October 2013

Life After Bubba: A Look at PCMA TechCentral

By Kelly Peacy CAE, CMP, Senior Vice President Education & Meetings

Three years after retiring our planning binder and embracing the tablet we’re bringing PCMA TechCentral to Convening Leaders.

On a recent Convening Leaders planning visit in Boston, I became nostalgic, followed by a brief, albeit intense, wave of what can only be described as panic. My fellow meeting professionals will understand why.

As I made my way through the halls and rooms of the Hynes Convention Center, I was thankful for my tablet computer. All of my notes, floor plans, and photos were easily accessible to me in a lightweight device — everything literally at my fingertips. I actually paused for a moment to reflect on how far we had come with this technology. Just three short years ago, our team still relied on paper, and lots of it. We joked about how “Bubba,” our 600-plus-page Convening Leaders specifications guide, had gone on a diet for our 2011 annual meeting in Las Vegas — transforming into a sleek electronic version, completely paperless and exponentially lighter.

And that’s when the panic set in. What new technology will we use to manage our next meeting? How will it be different from what we use now, and what will be the benefits? Where will I get it? How much will it cost?

I realize I’m not alone in my struggle to keep up with technology, meetings-related or otherwise. It’s moving so fast, we don’t know from one minute to the next what’s in, what’s out, and what’s coming up. Add to that the sheer number of technologies available for both meeting management and the attendee experience, and it only gets more confusing. Another issue I personally struggle with is the best way to select and showcase these technologies at Convening Leaders, so our attendees can see what we’re using and learn from our successes as well as our mistakes.

To that end, this year we’re planning a new technology area filled with all that’s new, interesting, and developing in the world of meeting technology. Here’s a look at “PCMA TechCentral”:

  • Featured technology education sessions from key subject-matter experts, 75 to 90 minutes in length, focusing on topics such as mobile and wireless devices, Wi-Fi bandwidth, event intelligence, and tech trends to grow attendance and revenue.
  • A special area devoted to hands-on training and tutorials for apps such as Evernote, Dropbox, and more. Spend some time there to engage with your peers and learn more about the devices you’re carrying around with you.
  • Tech demos — what’s new in cutting-edge and state-of-the-art event technology?

Outside of TechCentral, we’ll be doing our best to showcase new technologies inside the classroom. How people learn continues to evolve, and we want to showcase various ways to educate your own attendees through technology. This area of focus is so important to us that we have a dedicated group of staff members researching and investigating new ways to infuse technology into the Convening Leaders experience.

Do you have a favorite technology that you’ve used, or is there something you’ve always wanted to see in action? Please let me know, and we’ll do our best to make it part of Convening Leaders in Boston. Send me an email at kpeacy@pcma.org or follow me on Twitter.

Registration is now open at conveningleaders.org. I hope you’re making your plans now for Convening Leaders 2014, Jan. 12-15. See you there!

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