“If you build it, he will come” (Field of Dreams, 1989)
For those of you who follow baseball or Kevin Costner, this phrase will conjure up images of corn fields and baseball legends from the 1989 classic “Field of Dreams.” In the movie, an Iowa farmer (Costner) hears a voice instructing him to build “it”, a baseball field, so Shoeless Joe Jackson and members of the Chicago White Sox banned from playing baseball could play the game once again.
((Spoiler alert: he built it and they played! (Simple!))
For meeting planners, it might be more appropriate to say “If you plan it, they will attend.” But unlike movie magic, simply building or planning a meeting is not enough. Without strategic thinking, if you just ‘build a meeting’ — your “players” (i.e. attendees) may show up to the game in swim suits not baseball uniforms, bring tennis rackets instead of gloves, or show up not ready to play the game at all. Organizations need to ask: are my attendees truly coming to play ball? If not, it may be necessary to step back and take a strategic look at your meetings.
Question: Why are you building the field?
Identify your meeting’s purpose.
At Kinsley Meetings, our team is comprised of Meeting Architects. Our approach to meetings involves building the foundation to gather attendees and present content. The design of the meeting foundation has a direct impact on meeting effectiveness. And a meeting foundation built without a purpose, is simply not effective.
Is the purpose of your meeting to allow people to network?
If so, plan interactive social events. Build “white space” into your agenda, so that participants have time outside of sessions to interact. Plan sessions that are not merely didactic in nature (i.e. the “sage on the stage”), and that encourage conversations in the midst of meetings.
Do your attendees attend for continuing education?
If so, offer relevant content in an engaging environment. Surround Continuing Education Units (CEUs) with time to absorb and discuss what individuals are learning.
A city hosting the Superbowl is a perfect example of defining purpose. Cities not only want the economic boost through increased tourism, but according to the Motley Fool, cities are motivated in other ways as well. This includes showcasing the city on a national/global level which can lead to a grand swell of pride in their local population. Defining a meeting’s purpose helps to define its personality, its scope and makes attracting participants easier.
Question: Are your attendees playing baseball in swim suits?
Time for a redesign.
If after defining the purpose, you discover a disconnect with the feedback you are getting from attendees, it may be time for a meeting redesign. Other indicators you need a redesign include:
- Is your industry growing, but your sales are declining?
- Has your attendance dropped from year to year? Or worse…has attendance at a competitor’s conference picked-up?
- Are your educational sessions well attended?
- Are you paying for vendor services you don’t utilize?
According to Newton’s First Law: “An object in motion will stay in motion, just as an object at rest will stay at rest.” So too will a stagnated meeting, unless acted upon by an outside force – you. Your sales will continue to decline, attendance will continue to drop and dollars will be wasted – unless you take action. That action may be going through a formal Event Design or Redesign process with an experienced meeting planner. The Event Design/Redesign process will give you an objective look at your meeting, taking into account stakeholder’s interests, meeting event goals, meeting constraints (budget/location) and other key factors. This process can reset your meeting’s goals and enable you to determine where changes may be made to your meeting construct, and where they can’t.
A meeting architect knows that no two meetings are the same. Those differences are not merely in the city or the dates, the way the room is set or the food that is served. The Meeting Design/Redesign process should begin with a strategic look at the desired outcomes of the event, leading into an objective look at meeting elements that either help you achieve your objectives or detract from them.
In the next edition of Kinsley – In The Know, our Kinsley meeting experts will walk through the Event Design process. Like that ‘Field of Dreams’ farmer who understood his vision and built a baseball field worthy of legends in his backyard, a valuable Meeting Architect will help not only sow the seeds of inspiration for your next event, but will be with you to watch it grow and flourish.
5 Questions with a Seasoned Global Meetings and Events Expert helping Meeting Planners Navigate International Events with Ease
Carol Krugman dedicated more than 30 years to planning global meetings and events helping shape the industry today. Krug, as many know her, was an industry expert planning meetings on every continent (with the exception of Antarctica) and racking up numerous accolades along the way. She developed multiple academic programs and wrote books for meeting planners used in colleges and universities today. She recently retired, but hasn’t strayed too far from the Meetings and Event Industry, and shares her knowledge on how to not only plan successful global events, but how meeting professionals can grow their careers.
1: You recently retired as the Chair of the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events at Metropolitan State University in Denver, CO. Can you provide your top tips for people new to the industry to do/get involved in to help them grow within their career?
I like to refer to “Krug’s 3 Bs”:
- Be a sponge: Learn as much as you can, wherever, whenever and from whomever you can.
- Be fearless: Trust your instincts, take chances, fail with dignity, learn from every mistake.
- Be a resource: Be generous with your time, your knowledge and your expertise. You will always know something or have a skill that someone else does not, even when you are brand new in the industry. Share graciously.
2: What are the Top 3 pitfalls planners need to watch out for when it comes to planning international meetings?
Some of the more common pitfalls are:
- Assuming that planning meetings overseas is the same as it is here in the U.S. Underestimating the challenges of working in a country where the language, culture, currency, business practices and logistical operations are very different.
- Not working with a network of reliable local support partners, especially a good destination management company (DMC).
- Not obtaining expert assistance in specialty areas, such as currency exchange, tax refunds, technology needs, legal issues, etc.
3: How many languages do you speak? Did that give you a leg up over other international event planners?
I speak four and a half. I’m fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese with a working knowledge of Italian – enough to get in and out of trouble.
The ability to speak one foreign language is a valued skill, so my multilingual proficiency has been a distinct advantage throughout my entire career. The ability to communicate (and be charming) in French, Spanish and basic Italian was especially useful in Europe. Spanish was invaluable throughout Latin America, obviously. Portuguese was the unexpected bonus, as it provided a unique ability to work successfully in Brazil. When I started my own meeting management company in 1990, most other U.S.-based planners either would not, or could not, cope with Latin America. The political and economic instability, along with the existing cultural and language challenges, intimidated most of my professional colleagues – even those who worked regularly in Europe. My foreign language skills and extensive network of outstanding local support partners were a distinct competitive advantage. My entire career would have been different had I not had a good ear for languages and the ability to adapt to other cultures.
4: In your book, Global Meetings and Exhibitions, you acknowledge several people who helped you along your career. As you traveled the world, how did you stay connected to people you met over your career?
In the previous millennium, being continuously active in our industry professional associations and attending conferences and trade shows regularly was my ongoing source of connection. Attending an MPI WEC, PCMA Convening Leaders or IMEX was as much a family reunion as a professional education activity. Now I can keep up with all my peeps on Facebook or LinkedIn.
5: What was your favorite part about the meetings and event management industry?
- Meeting and working with so many extraordinary people all over the world, many of whom became and remain close personal friends.
- The continuous challenge to “make it happen,” no matter what the circumstances, and the finite nature of the results – you know right away whether you nailed it or blew it.
- Nothing is routine. Every experience is a unique and ongoing opportunity to learn, teach and/or accomplish something new. In over 30+ years in this business, I have never been bored.
Goat Cheese and Oven-Dried Tomato Tart
Goat Cheese & Oven Dried Tomato Tart
Spring is such an incredible time in Colorado. One of my true joys this season is sitting on the deck on a warm evening, looking at the snow-capped mountains, sipping a glass of Prosecco and enjoying a Goat Cheese Tart. It is one of my favorite appetizers and actually can be enjoyed for any occasion (and any season for that matter.) I snagged this recipe from a colleague and shamelessly now call it my own! You will too!
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed ** (see below for homemade crust – which makes it taste even better!)
- 1 cup coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 6 medium tomatoes or large romas, cored, halved crosswise, seeded
- 2 small garlic cloves, thinly slivered
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, divided
**For homemade crust:
- 1 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to sprinkle
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, chilled
- 3-4 Tbsp cold water
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Do this ahead of time! It can be prepared 1 day in advance and stored in single layer in covered container in refrigerator:
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; brush foil with 1 tablespoon oil.
- Place tomato halves, cut side up, on baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic and 1 tablespoon thyme over tomatoes; drizzle remaining 1/4 cup oil over. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Bake until tomatoes begin to shrink and are slightly dried but still soft, about 2 hours. Cool tomatoes on sheet.
- Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 13-inch square. Transfer pastry to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, pressing pastry firmly onto bottom and sides of pan. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch. Fold overhang in and press, pushing crust 1/4 inch above pan. Pierce crust all over with fork; chill 30 minutes.
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line pastry with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans; bake until crust edges are golden, piercing with fork if crust bubbles, about 12 minutes longer. Cool crust 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, using fork, mash mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme together in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add eggs and cream and stir until mixture is well blended. Spread cheese filling evenly in crust. Arrange tomato halves in filling, cut side up. Place olives between tomatoes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over top. Bake until filling is puffed and set, about 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Push up pan bottom, releasing sides. Serve tart warm.
2019 is well underway! To start the year off right, the Kinsley team made a few meeting & event planning specific resolutions:
Resolution #1: Exercise More!
As meeting planners, we know during a conference you can really log some miles moving between general session, breakout sessions, offsites and more. We crush Fitbit’s 10K daily step recommendation each day onsite. Back in the office it can be a different story in the weeks/months leading up to a conference as we analyze budgets, plan agendas, review signage and tackle work on the computer. In 2019, as a team, we resolve to move more! According to Harvard Medical School, walking for 2.5 hours a week (21 minutes a day) can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30%. What’s more, walking has also been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of obesity.
And if that doesn’t get you moving – it can also help reduce stress! Break out those tennis shoes!
Resolution #2: Eat Healthier!
Let’s face it, food and beverage can sometimes make or break and attendees experience at an event. Meetings and conferences are opportunities to stray away from one’s normal diet – at least for a few days – with everything offered. And while we are not planning to cut out decedent desserts or savory bites at events we plan, rather, we will look for simple ways to give attendees the opportunity to keep things in check. Simple options include: adding whole fruit to breaks, offering sparkling water as opposed to soda, and serving salads with dressing on the side.
Let’s eat and be merry!
Resolution #3: Drink…Smarter
Happy hours, welcome receptions, and hosted bars can be a backbone to a great event. Why? Because they give / provide attendees a chance to network with one another in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.They can also be a hurdle for healthy lifestyles.This year, we plan to keep in mind these facts when it comes to sipping on alcoholic beverages:
- Choose clear (ex. Gin or Tequila): they don’t have the added sugar that darker alcohols contain.
- Tonic and Soda are not equals: tonic water has sugar, soda water is basically fizzy water – no calories there!
- White or Red? Red wines tend to have a higher alcohol content which may lead to a hangover the next day, but white wines can be sweeter and more refreshing – leading you to drink more and get a similar hangover. Our vote: whatever you drink, chase it with water.
Resolution #4: Give to Others
For multi-day events, finding a pockets of time in the agenda for a volunteer event can provide an incredible ‘bang for your buck!’ A volunteer event allows attendees to network beyond the hotel or conference center walls. Volunteering connects your event to the local community which can lead to increased media exposure and help increase your organization’s public image. For your attendees, volunteering can be an opportunity to physically accomplish something, which in turn can help increase their sense of happiness and pride. These emotions then can be attributed to their overall experience during and perception of your event.The Kinsley team will strive to look for ways to help you, help others.
And finally, one resolution that endures from year to year:
Our Kinsley commitment to providing exceptional event and meeting planning service, delivering solutions outside of the box, and having some fun along the way.
Do you have a resolution this year? If so, we’d love to hear from you.
Numbers don’t lie!
Whether planning conferences for thousands or intimate dinners for a few, the Kinsley team’s experience managing events is sure to impress. (more…)