I'm at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the Cvent Connect event for association and corporate planners, and it's been a whirlwind of activities, education, conversation, and some truly great keynotes so far. In the 28 or so hours I've been here, I've already filled up about two-thirds of my notebook! I have a feeling I'll be unpacking my notes for a long time after I get back to Massachusetts, but here are some of the things that have caught my attention so far:
- There are a lot of people here! I heard overall attendance, including the suppliers who attended Cvent's event for them earlier in the week, was hovering around the 2,500 mark. [Update: actual numbers were just north of 2,100, but still, that's a lot of folks!]
- I have never seen the likes of the screen in the general session room—it is just enormous! The only way to get it in one picture was from the back of the ballroom.
- The upside of going to the quieter pool area of the pool party: No food or bar lines. The downside: I missed the flashmob! I was wondering what the deal was when I saw a bunch of soaked people walk by--I hear they jumped in the pool at the end. Also, the MGM Grand has some seriously musically talented staff members.
- According to a recent attendee app usage study, three out of four event producers have a mobile app, and 86 percent of those who don't yet say they will by next year.
Arianna Huffington, of Huffington Post Media Group, got the first standing ovation right off the bat. She had so many great quotes; among the ones that resonated with me: "The need for downtime is not a bug. It's a feature of the human system." And "You can actually complete a project by dropping it."
- Early signs that your event's P&L is in danger include potential attendees giving you their secondary e-mail accounts (such as Gmail and Yahoo), not their primary work e-mail--it's an indication that they don't think your messages are worth interrupting their work day.
- Your budget for marketing should be in the single digits as a percentage of your overall budget. If you're spending 10 percent or more on it, peel back and reinvest the funds in things that actually have an impact on the attendee experience.
- There's no better way to start a breakout session, especially the last one of the day, than with a little sneak lesson on reggae dancing, followed by conga-line-style group shoulder massages. Woke us right up!
- Juliet Funt (daughter of Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame) is an amazing speaker. She paints gorgeous word pictures, spins a great yarn, is amazingly expressive, and just cracked me up, all while imparting some useful ideas about how we all can--and need to-- incorporate some "white space" into our work lives. Her take on a meeting planner's typical day on site was hilarious, and dead-on (she used to be a meeting planner), especially the part where she talked about attendees complaining about the chicken. Just a fantastic speaker with a message we all need to hear--and act on.