I ventured into Boston today to check out NEMICE, the New England Meeting Industry Conference and Exposition, and it was interesting.
They didn't get space to do a general session to kick it off, which they always have done in the past. But rather than gripe (though I'm sure there was some of that, too), the organizers got creative and cut the 90 minutes down to just the essential 17 minutes, then broadcast the presentation into the various session rooms. Due to a technical difficulty, it didn't make it into our session, but it still was a great idea.
My colleague Barbara Scofidio led a green meetings session, where I volunteered to be a table host for three rotations of roundtable discussions on the topic of going green when it comes to bags, gifts, and giveaways--not something I know a lot about, but I learned a ton by taking part in the discussions this morning (more on that specifically in another post). The format we used was sort of a hybrid of World Cafe and open space, where we came up with seven topics, and then had people spend 20 minutes at one table, then 20 minutes at another, etc. The table hosts reported out at the end. Also, professional facilitator Joan Parker-Roach captured the results with a graphic recording, which came out pretty cool. Of course, I forgot to bring my camera so I don't have a photo now, but there was a photographer there so hopefully I'll get a picture of it eventually.
Then I went to another session which, despite the unfortunate title of "Dimensionalize the Attendee Experience," was going along great (and presenter/Energizer bunny Chris Gasparro said right up front he knew "dimensionalize" wasn't a word but he didn't care, which was funny. Guess you had to be there). Anyway, about halfway through the 90-minute session, the alarm goes off and they had to evacuate the building. I saw a bunch of firetrucks and police cars outside, but haven't seen anything on the news so I don't know what happened, but it must not have been too bad.
At least, not too bad for the Hynes Convention Center, where NEMICE was being held. But for the conference, I have a feeling that I'm not the only one who, once having stepped out into the 65-degree sunshine, decided not to go back in for the expo and just headed home to get some work done (this is a mostly local crowd, after all). I hope I'm wrong.