What's your favourite conference about meetings?

What's your favourite conference about meetings?

(Christoph Haug) #1

As I explore the rising industry of meeting design and event management, I realize that there seem to be quite a number of related conferences and trade fairs, :astonished: but it’s not easy for an outsider to get an overview of which ones exist, how big they are, what their main focus of philosophy is etc

Does anyone know a bit more about this? Which meeting related conferences have you been to and what was it like?

Conferences about meetings and collaboration in United States
(Maarten Vanneste) #2

Since 1999 I have been actively participating and speaking frequently in almost all of them.
What is your reason for asking? I could do presentation about that topic but probably better to reply to your questions.
If there is one I would recommend it is the FRESH conference which is small, focused on meeting design and held as a multi hub conference. I think it connects wel to the world of meeting research as I have come to discover at the Goteborg SMS.
anyone that is interested can register for FRESH18 news on FRESH

I am happy to answer more specific questions.


(Christoph Haug) #3

It may seem trivial for you, but many people don’t have the kind of overview of the field. So the idea with this topic was to get an idea of what events there are and why people attend them. Like a kind of repository that makes it easier for newcomers to get some orientation.

If you could share your experience and knowledge, that would be great. You can do it in whatever format you prefer but if you’d like some questions to respond to for each event, you could use these:

  1. Organization: What is the conference called, who organizes it, where and how often does it usually take place? Since when has it been going on?
  2. Topic/purpose: What is the aim of the conference? What are the main topics discussed?
  3. Attendance: What kind of people attend it? How many are usually attending? Why do people attend it?
  4. Recommendations: Any recommendations or personal preferences?

When answering, perhaps it would be good to not assume to much knowledge about the industry and, for example, spell out abbreviations etc.

(Maarten Vanneste) #4

this will take some time to do but allow me to do a quick start:
IMEX, Frankfurt / 20.000 pax / May
The Meetings Shows, London / 5000 / June
IMEX America, Las Vegas / 20.000 pax/ October
IBTM Barcelona / 15.000 / November
Many national shows aswel.
ALL THESE TRADE-SHOWS: stands are mainly venue’s and destinations 1,5% is technology / lots of free education / free entrance.

Awards, several awards events like BEAWORLD

ASSOCIATIONS and their conferences.
MPI (Meeting Professionals International) / AMERICAN, Dalas / 25000 members / chapters i all US states, and in many European cities/ did a european conference (now with SITE) and does WEC the big conference 2000 pax in July.
PCMA (Professional Conference Managers Association) / American, Chicago / 14000 members / mainly in USA, moving into EU / a few conferences: Big one is Convening leaders 2000 pax /
SITE 'Socity of Incentive travel executives) now does EU conference with MPI.

ICCA (International Conference and Congress Association) / Amsterdam /

My own event:
MDI Meeting Design Institute / Member based organization around Meeting Design
The FRESH Conference: 300 pax fully focused on Meeting Design. 2018 theme is Interaction 2 day Multi Hub conference happens in 4-5 cities in europ/ On of the scientist at Gothenburg SMS is confirmed as a speaker.

many other smaller & national associations and events… eg Event Tech London November…

(CIC now called) EIC Events Industry Council is the Federation of associations in the industry.

Hope this is good a start.
all the best.

(Ib Ravn) #5

You have to reckon with one huge difference in meaning when it comes to meetings. Christoph is likely talking about meetings as “5-20 people gathered for an hour or two in a place of work, with discussion of agenda items”, Maarten about a “20-2000 people event in rented rooms at a hotel or conference centre, with a program of presentations in plenary (and break-out rooms)”.

Our Gothenburg symposium in April 2017 was about the former, Maarten’s whole business is primarily about the latter.

People in the “meetings industry” (attending all those conferences and fairs Maarten listed) usually forget that this is not at all what regular folks call a meeting, while people who go to regular meetings at work mostly have no idea that there there is a whole meetings industry with “meeting professionals” which they would call event organizers. Just to clear up things.

(Christoph Haug) #6

Thanks for clarifying that. While it’s important to keep this distinction in mind, it’s also worth pointing out that there is an interesting grey zone. Typical examples from that grey zone are staff retreats, strategy workshops or certain kick-off meetings, i.e. meetings that are often smaller but nevertheless held off-site at a hotel or conference centre.

There is another distinction implicit in the one Ib makes (apart from size and location): the involvement of some kind of meeting professional or process facilitator. People earning their money by helping others organize their meetings obviously have a special interest in this latter kind of meetings. So, to put it concisely, on the one side you have meetings without external professional support and on the other you have those involving external professional support.

Traditionally, this distinction divides the world of meetings about the same way as the one about size and location. But this seems to be gradually changing as organizations are increasingly willing to pay professionals for helping them improve their smaller and routine office meetings or even their organisational meeting culture as a whole.

This support for ordinary meetings ranges from the good old process facilitator (and training of such facilitators) to digital applications (such as those provided by @Elise_Keith, @kelvin.mcgrath, or @CCGPierre) to more general support for thinking about organizational meetings and meeting cultures (as provided, for example, by @mike, @micke.darmell, @antoni, @asa, @maarten.vanneste and others). In other words, while the “meeting industry” was traditionally limited to special and larger meetings, it is gradually expanding to professionalise ordinary and smaller meetings.

BTW: I’d like to encourage all of you who are offering products or services related to mertings to briefly describe those in our #market category. I think this would help promote everyone’s understanding of the industry and the developing meeting profession(s).

See also this topic:

(Mike van der Vijver ) #7

Christoph makes a good point (in my view) about these two different types of meetings increasingly overlapping. And it seems only natural that they should, in my experience as as Meeting Designer. Of course, there are big differences between the dynamics of large-fish meeting (the 20-2000 Ib Ravn mentions) and small-is meeting (the 2-20), but there are also so many similarities. Here is a brief, non-exhaustive list of examples:

  • the impact of the physical environment on meeting dynamics;
  • the complexity of the relationships between meeting participants;
  • the complexity of the relationship between the world inside the meeting and the world outside;
  • the impact of culture (whether national or organizational) on meeting dynamics;
  • the fact that conventions get established in the run-up to any meeting and in the first interactions between participants;
  • very generically: the difference between content and process;
  • as a result: the need for professionals who understand what happens the process, in order to achieve good outcomes on content;
    I could go on, but maybe someone else would also like to have a go, as well…

In any case, I feel it is important to create as much clarity as possible about how we use the terms, without getting tangled up in a debate about semantics. To me, meetings is a very generic word, that encompasses any encounter between two or more people, for a purpose (so not: sitting non a bus together). Events are never very small, whereas meetings can be.

Looking forward to any other thoughts on the above!

(Elise Keith) #8

On the original topic, I always learn something when I attend an IAF event.

As mentioned previously, the facilitators really focus on those “special event” meetings, so there’s not a lot of content on the day-to-day.
Another thing I’m learning is that the professional facilitators of the world have some recruiting to do! If anyone is looking for a new area of study, might I suggest succession planning as a hot topic in the next decade?

Otherwise, for the day-to-day business meetings, these don’t have a conference that I know about. Instead, they get some very minor time in events focused on other business activities. The folks who provide facilitation training like to present at ATD conferences (https://www.td.org/). The business book folks talk at marketing and leadership events. My next presentation is for a group at a customer support management conference, for example.

It sounds like there’s an unfilled space out there. Is this an opportunity? The question is: who would come to a conference about workplace meetings?

(Elise Keith) #9

Is anyone familiar with or planning to attend this event? Seems right in several of your wheelhouses, and I’m curious about it.

(Christoph Haug) #10

Looks interesting indeed! Maybe @leah.sprain or @karen.tracy know something about NCDD?

@f.cooren, does IADA relate to NCDD in any way?

(f.cooren) #11

Dear Christoph, dear all,

I did not know of NCDD, but it looks quite interesting. It seems mainly skill-oriented, which is not something that IADA tends to be interested in, so no competition on this side.
All my best,

(Gabriel) #12

There are always interesting papers and discussions about technology and meetings at the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI). This year it is in Boulder, CO, USA.