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Things I Think I Know: Random Thoughts about PCMA11, ACOM and Other Trivial Items

by Greg Ruby on January 20, 2011

250px Welcome to fabulous las vegas sign 150x150 Things I Think I Know:  Random Thoughts about PCMA11, ACOM and Other Trivial ItemsThere has been a little break since our last post – it didn’t seem to make sense to post during the holidays when everyone was off doing other things.  I was then off to Las Vegas to attend three conferences – the Association of Convention Operations Management, the Professional Convention Management Association and Virtual Edge Summit for 8 days and it seemed that most of my readers were there.  So now we are back!

I just reread my draft of this post and I am frightened that it seems to read like one of Larry King’s old columns that he used to write for USA Today – would be interested to know if you like this format!

  • PCMA consistently produces the BEST educational conference for those in the meetings and events industry and is the gold standard that IAEE and MPI try to reach.  A tip of the hat to the entire PCMA staff for a great job overall on the Annual Meeting!
  • The Learning Lounge was probably the home run of the PCMA event for many attendees and the tag team of Dave Lutz and Jeff Hurt, along with the PCMA task force, are rightfully recieving many compliments and kudos for this innovative approach.  I sincerely hope PCMA retains this feature for future Annual Meetings and makes a few minor tweaks here and there to make the offerings even better.  Sam Smith goes into more detail about the Learning lounge in his blog entry – be forewarned, I appear, assisting folks at the Social Media Experts Bar at the 2:34 mark in the video.  It was also nice to see Christina Stallings make a rare public appearance, assisting the Velvet Chainsaw crew in the Learning Lounge.
  • I was able to watch the first quarter of the Ravens-Chiefs NFL playoff game on that Sunday morning, courtesy of a small party that Visit Baltimore held for planners attending PCMA, before heading off to the PCMA Student Union program led by Joan Eisenstodt, to serve as a Mega-Mentor for some of the 275+ college students that were attending the PCMA Annual Meeting.  It was good to see that so many colleges and educational institutions now teach about our industry – back in my college days, I was told that I would never make a living in the industry and should try something like accounting.  Things have definitely changed!
  • After returning from Las Vegas, I watched the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Ravens in the next round of the NFL playoffs.  I’m not sure if I can say the better team won that day.  Heck, I can’t say it about any of the Ravens losses this year, since they led during the 4th quarter of all the games they lost.  A tip of the hat to the fanatical Steelers fan, Dana Doody from The Expo Group, on her team’s two victories this year over the Ravens.  Just wait till next year!
  • PCMA held another State of the Industry panel discussion during one of the luncheons during the week.  It is time to drop this format, as it is becoming overused.  I saw many folks walking out of the program (disclosure: I was one of them).  If any folks from the Convention Industry Council happen to read my rant here, PLEASE do not do this program for a THIRD consecutive year at the May CMP Conclave in Cancun.
  • Just once, could we have the general session keynote speaker appear within 15 minutes of the start of the program?  Generally, at PCMA, we were one hour into the session before the speaker appeared.  I know that the other business is important at these sessions, but can’t we have some of it after the speaker.
  • Attendance at ACOM seemed a little lighter to me than the one I attended briefly in Seattle back in 2008.  One surprise to me, was the fairly low volume of tweeting from that conference under the hashtag #ACOM11.  At the most, we had 10 folks tweeting from that conference.
  • Mires Things I Think I Know:  Random Thoughts about PCMA11, ACOM and Other Trivial ItemsA highlight of the ACOM Conference was the Awards Luncheon on Saturday afternoon.  ACOM, in partnership with Successful Meetings, honors Convention Services Managers from Convention Centers, Hotels and Convention and Visitors Bureaus.  This year, my friend Sheila Mires from Visit Baltimore was honored as the Outstanding Convention Services Manager of the Year.  I had the pleasure of working closely with Sheila for a few years while I worked at the Baltimore Convention Center and am amazed that it took this long for her to be recognized for this honor, which is long overdue. Congratulations Sheila!
  • Pitchers and catchers report for Major League Baseball Training Camp on February 14 – right after Event Camp!  I am excited about the upcoming season and am confident that the Orioles new manager, Buck Showalter, will lead the team to our first winning season since 1997.  I was spoiled growing up as the Orioles were the best team in baseball from 1960 – 1985.
  • Registration is now open for Event Camp Chicago during February 11-13.  Hope to see you there!
  • Had an extremely delightful conversation with Mike McAllen and Jon Trask during the Virtual Edge Summit.  After a few minutes, one of them had the idea to record it for one of their Meetings Podcasts.  I finally made it to the big time!
  • If you ever stay at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, be sure to check out the art work on the walls at the FiAMMA Trattoria & Bar.  Thanks to a friend who will remain anonymous for the tip!  Also try the “Ruby Rush” penny slots, as Danalynn Wheeler claimed they brought her good luck!
  • freshness burger 150x148 Things I Think I Know:  Random Thoughts about PCMA11, ACOM and Other Trivial ItemsOne night during the week, several of us headed out of the hotel complex and had a fine gourmet dinner at In’N Out Burger.  While good, still does not compare to the burger and fries at Five Guys.  My dining companions were split 50 – 50 on this.
  • I liked the idea of co-locating the Virtual Edge Symposium with PCMA and hope that this arrangement will again be done next year in San Diego.  A few minor tweaks in scheduling and some better coordination of logistics are needed, but overall the arrangement was a success for both groups.
  • scott k Things I Think I Know:  Random Thoughts about PCMA11, ACOM and Other Trivial ItemsThe “A-ha” moment of the week came to me while attending Scott Klososky’s session on Exploring Socially Augmented Events.  I’ll have another blog entry on his program shortly,  however, you can view his archived presentation in the auditorium of PCMA365, the online community for PCMA.  I had the good fortune to have dinner with Scott and a few others during last June’s PCMA Education Conference and the dude is sharp and definitely ahead of the times.
  • I might be in the minority on this, but I kinda enjoyed the hosting job done by Ricky Gervais during Sunday’s Golden Globes award ceremony.

Well, that wraps up this blog entry.  There are a few more posts to follow in  the next several days!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Bruno January 20, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Greg: I love the format of your blog. I’m a big fan of bullet points. I was only present for a single luncheon at PCMA and all of VES (as you know) but was struck by the contrast: large throng of people (PCMA) vs. small intimate group (VES). Long luncheon where the leadership and sponsors were paraded out and attendees sat in semi-silence (PCMA) vs. box lunches where everyone got a chance to talk to one another about virtual events, i.e. their reason for being there without interruption (VES). Education across the spectrum of the event space (PCMA) vs. everything you could possibly want to know about a single topic (VES). Personally after many years in the industry, I prefer the latter on a regular basis. If I go to a meeting I want immersion and not just surface grazing. I prefer the entire enchilada down to the last tantalizing bite not just a lick of the sauce. See you on down the road friend!

mike mcallen January 20, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Hey Greg -
It was an honor to have you on meetingspodcast. I also really enjoyed hanging out with you during the week. I am really surprised at no mention of our delicious wing dinner.

See you at Eventcamp!


Dana Freker Doody January 20, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Go Steelers!!!

Dave Brull January 20, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Once again a west coast bias… Go bears. Great seeing you and checking out the wall art at MGM together. .

Dave Lutz January 21, 2011 at 7:32 AM

One of my highlights of the week was doing the ACOM panel with you, Greg! We got to get you to work on your Godfather accent for maximum effect.

Your bullets above have great insight for where PCMA and VES can make improvements. I walked out of the industry panel too. It almost got juicy when Debrah asked the question about hosted buyer programs…but when the association exec answered in terms of ROI, I knew it was time to leave.

All in all, there’s no question that PCMA is delivering the gold standard for our industry. By just making a few tweaks, they will retain that position.

Wendi Haught January 21, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Greg, I agree with Michelle on the bullet points – and the power of the intimate environments created within VES. The big group format at PCMA for the general sessions is effective, but can be “too much of a good thing” when followed by other big group formats. Some focused topics at lunch would be great.

Loved the Learning Lounge and do hope it’s retained and just slightly refined for next year. It was a big win evidenced by the fact that the late nighters also made sure to be the early morningers!

And Five Guys dominates. Enough said.

Kevin Richardson January 25, 2011 at 11:41 PM


I agree about the “State of the Industry”. That sends the wrong message. What I’d prefer is more student involvement. Let students and customers tell us (peers) where THEY are taking the industry. Then allow PCMA to support that discussion with research and education. Stop telling me where you’re guiding the industry and start putting me in more positions to have conversations about where we (peers along with PCMA) will take the industry.

Jody urquhart January 27, 2011 at 10:36 AM

The idea of more student involvement is right on. Can’t wait to hear about scott’s presentation on socially augmented events

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