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An Unusual Event Format Makes an Impact

With its “learning hub” concept, the Professional Convention Management Association configured a single ballroom to handle most sessions and breaks.

For the second annual PCMA APAC conference—an event that came about when the Professional Convention Management Association acquired Incentive, Conference & Event Society Asia-Pacific in 2017—the planning committee chose a format demonstrating the kind of creativity that would be discussed in breakout sessions for the 120 participants.

Held November 6-8 at The Parisian, Macao, the conference made the most of a single ballroom. The general-session stage and its theater-style seating were set in one quadrant of the room, while breakout areas with varied seating options occupied other spaces along the room’s perimeter. And near the center of the ballroom, refreshment-break areas featured entertainment options such as foosball tables but also small seating pods to encourage in-depth conversations about event content.

APAC-AC19-Highlight-6.jpg“The learning-hub approach was well received,” says Patricia Cheong, associate director of development for PCMA. “We demonstrated how to provide more organic networking opportunities by creating open spaces where attendees could participate in intimate ‘after-chats’ with speakers, conduct business meetings, catch up on work, or relax and play games. The learning-hub concept facilitates the transition of participants from the main stage to breaks to breakout sessions.”

APAC_PCMAgensession.pngThe topic of creativity also ran through event sessions. The final speaker on day one was Fredrik Haren, author of The Idea Book, which was included in a list of the 100 best business books of all time. His presentation, The Role of Creativity in a Rapidly Developing World, was among the sessions rated most highly by participants. They also heard about how to design inclusive event experiences for Muslim audiences, how to incorporate sustainability at events, and the pros and cons of using exotic destinations for business events.

Not every event element took place in the ballroom. The welcome reception was held at The Parisian’s pool-deck event space that features the skyline of the Cotai strip and a replica of the Eiffel Tower. And on arrival day, there was an off-site learning tour called “Macau Through the Back Alleys” that provided a look at life on the Chinese island that’s one hour from Hong Kong.

APAC_PCMAbreakout.pngCheong notes that some of the elements of PCMA APAC will be used at the association’s Convening Leaders Conference taking place January 5-8 in San Francisco. “Our participants aren’t the only ones learning during our events,” she says. “We’re learning too, and we take the risks so our planner attendees don’t have to. The business events industry looks to us for ideas.”

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