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A Smaller Event Offering the Same Big Ideas

With a fraction of the attendance of the Convening Leaders conference, PCMA designs its EduCon event with a different approach to delivering content that fits the association's educational theme for the year.

EduCon, the Professional Convention Management Association’s June educational conference in Los Angeles, is repeating the theme of the association’s much larger Convening Leaders conference (4,500 attendees) held six months earlier. But this 800-person conference will take a more focused, practical approach to the association's “disrupt and deliver” theme for 2019.

Small-scale collaborative sessions will allow for deeper dives into topics central to participants’ everyday work. One-hour breakout sessions fall into four areas grouped as "studios":

Collaboration: attendees work together to find practical solutions to industry issues
Deep Dive: groups closely examine hot industry topics
Fresh Look: experts from outside the industry inspire participants to solve problems

True Stories: case study sessions

Additional perspective in the form of post-session “after chats” will follow most studio sessions.

For topics such as understanding the changing work environment among planning staffs and analyzing the future of room blocks for conventions, the studio sessions are designed to meet individual learning styles. “We want to cater to different types,” said Kara Brockman, CAE, education manager for PCMA. “Some people prefer more interactive, hands-on content while others want to hear case studies. The studios will help attendees maximize their time and make sure they can learn on their preferred terms.”

Built to be Emulated
Many EduCon attendees are trying to determine how to accomplish the same things as EduCon at their own events. Planner members surveyed by PCMA highlighted the need for more stories or case studies that address alternatives to traditional classroom settings for educational sessions, with one planner saying, “Open space learning was a game-changer, but what’s next? How do we increase attendee engagement while balancing the needs of different generations?” As a result, this will be a focus of discussion.

EduCon is trying another interesting way to increase attendee engagement: On day 2, attendees will enjoy some Southern California sunshine when they gather in the center’s outdoor space for a rapid-fire, peer-to-peer session of sharing successes and failures. “Members of our audience have encountered their fair share of disruption and already put some of their own unconventional ideas to work,” Brockman said. “We want to make sure that everyone can benefit from hearing about each other’s experiences.”

Another energetic session will be the pre-conference "hackathon" facilitated by Jamie Murdock from Experient and Donna Kastner from Participants will work in teams to come up with innovative solutions for how the hospitality and tourism industries can address unsheltered homeless individuals.

The association will also leverage the perspective of interesting people from outside the business events industry during the three-day conference. John Ondrasik, leader of the popular band Five for Fighting, opens the show with an inspirational keynote on how to design the world you want in realistic ways. Leadership expert Sara Ross, formerly vice president and global head of leadership at the Institute for Health and Human Potential, will draw upon scientific research and personal experience for her keynote on managing emotional intelligence (known as EQ) to increase productivity and profitability, drive innovation, and strengthen relationships. Lastly, Ciaran Gribbin will present a capnote demonstrating the powerful role music can have in any organization. Gribbin knows this topic well: He's not only the founder of the firm Rock and Roll Team Building, but he's also a Grammy-nominated songwriter and former singer for the band INXS.

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With the Los Angeles Convention Center and the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live serving as host venues for PCMA EduCon 2019, music and entertainment will be featured elements around the conference as well. Adjacent to the convention center and Staples Center arena, the LA Live entertainment district features more than 20 restaurants, The Grammy Museum, music venues, night clubs, a bowling alley, and movie theaters.


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