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Hidden Gems – Our Five Top Boutique Destination Cities

Vegas, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Miami, and Houston are destination cities that get most of the large event action in the United States. San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta are the second-tier cities that also accommodate large events.

But as more and more companies see the value of face-to-face interaction with customers and employees, the number of smaller incentive and training events grows apace with blockbuster events, and the attendee demographic shifts toward Gen Y’s and Millennials.

Planners are constantly challenged to find better boutique destination cities that fit both the size and the demographic of these proliferating smaller events. Premier Meeting Services scours the nation evaluating smaller cities that are a better fit for the many smaller meeting and training events that we manage. Here is the current list of our top five boutique markets in the United States. This list is constantly evolving and we will update it here in this blog every ninety days.

Top Five Boutique Destination Cities

1. Savannah, Georgia
The old-school charm of horse drawn carriages and cobblestone streets that mark this walkable city would be enough to recommend it alone. Savannah, the nation’s largest historic district, is decorated with floral landscaping, gracious front porches, white columned mansions, wide streets, and 24 public squares.  The first planned city in America was laid out into grids by General James Oglethorpe, who named the state of Georgia after King George. Because of its beauty and charm, Savannah was the only city spared by General Sherman on his march to the sea during the Civil War.

The Lady and Sons, Paula Dean’s landmark restaurant, anchors a varietal and distinctly southern fusion culinary scene, while mid-sized boutique hotels and a modern convention center complete the southern hospitality conventioneers will enjoy when visiting Savannah.

2. Greenville, South Carolina

Most everyone knows Savannah, but few have ever heard of Greenville, South Carolina. Known as “the new Austin” because of its dining scene with more than 110 restaurants representing 27 different ethnic cuisines, Greenville is the perfect meeting location for young companies interested in vigorous outdoor activity.

  • The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour is a three-and-a-half-hour trip above the famous Green River Gorge on 11 zip lines, 2 huge rappels, and a sky bridge, while dropping 1100 vertical feet from start to finish.
  • The BMW Performance Center – attendees get to drive the newest, high tech BMW vehicles around a 1.7-mile test track. This is the ultimate adult playground.
  • Chimney Rock State Park – attendees can experience the thrill of hiking the 499-step Outcroppings Trail to the 315-foot Chimney Rock, where they’ll see an amazing 75-mile view of Hickory Nut Gorge and the Carolina Piedmont.

Five major airlines service the International Airport and the TD Convention Center contains almost 280,000 sq. ft. of convention space.

3. Monterey, California

In his masterpiece, Cannery Row, John Steinbeck made Monterey, California a household name in America. However, even Steinbeck did not adequately describe the raw beauty of the northern California coastline.
A drive along the Big Sur is to steep yourself in the world’s most unique ecology. It is considered the top road trip in America.
A round of golf at Pebble Beach, five miles from Monterey, is on the bucket list of every weekend golfer in the world.
Monterey’s conference center offers 41,000sq.ft. of exhibit or meeting space and the boutique lodging, Cannery Row, and Fisherman’s Wharf are once in a lifetime historic and ecological experiences.
Outdoorsmen from around the world have traveled to the pounding surf, rocky cliffs, and windy hiking trails along the Northern California coast.

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Broadmoor, a AAA Five-Diamond resort, has inspired the adventuresome spirit of the West since 1918. Bring your outdoor, granola attendees to The Broadmoor for your next meeting and turn them loose for rafting, mountain climbing, shooting, golf, fly fishing, horseback riding, and falconry. That’s right…falconry. You never know.
The Colorado Springs Airport provides nonstop service to 17 destinations by six major carriers, and the Broadmoor World Arena holds 9,000 people while boasting 19,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space.

5. Lake Placid, New York

If your bank employees are not invited to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland do not despair. Hold your next meeting at Lake Placid, New York.

Lake Placid was the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. High in the Adirondack Mountains, the little town is within a two-hour drive from airports in Burlington, Vermont, Montreal, and Albany, New York.

The Herb Brooks Arena holds 5,000 event guests and ski lodge hotel accommodations abound. If that mountain high, winter ski resort feel so envied in Davos is what you’re after, Lake Placid should be on your event destination list.

Hit it Better with Hybrids

Everybody’s hitting hybrids these days. Even Lydia Ko and Mo Martin hit hybrids every chance they get. At a recent charity golf event, one of my playing partners carried hybrids with only a driver, putter, and a sand wedge to round out her set. She shot 74 and won the tournament. I was sold and immediately went out and bought myself two more hybrids. Now I play four hybrids along with my wedges and driver and…I’m playing a lot better.


The first charitable contribution made at a golf event was $10,000 at the Palm Beach Invitational in 1938. Since 1938, the PGA TOUR has partnered with local charities across the country to raise an astounding $2.14 billion.  The Waste Management Phoenix Open alone recently announced that it had surpassed $100 million in charitable donations in its history. Unlike other professional sports organizations, the PGA TOUR relies on more than 100,000 volunteers annually to run its tournaments, and the vast majority of its tournaments are structured as non-profit organizations designed to donate 100% of net proceeds to charity.


Arnold Palmer made golf a popular sport for the masses. Before his televised “common man” charisma swept across America in the 50s, golf was largely an elitist “country-club” game. Then Arnold, and later Tiger Woods, captivated the “working-class” sportsman and golf took off. Everybody wanted to play golf, and this trend was not overlooked by corporations. The “golf outing” was born. Planners were called upon to design events that looked like the charitable golf events on the PGA TOUR but rewarded big customers and valuable employees. One-day corporate golf outings replete with tee prizes, hole-in-one prizes, and elaborate banquets with A-list entertainment were cloned from the already successful charity golf events on the PGA TOUR.


Then planners started to hit hybrids. They realized that corporate outings that partnered with local charities had a greater positive impact on employees and customers then simple company “golf tournaments”.  Charity golf events sponsored by a corporation are event magic. They tick all the boxes. Customers are happy. Employees are motivated. The community benefits. All corporate goals are met and often exceeded. The event ROI is off the charts.


Let’s take another look at the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s $100 million in charitable contributions. The event was started in 1932 by Bob Goldwater Sr. and the Phoenix Thunderbirds, a prominent civic organization. The Thunderbirds ran the charity event as the Phoenix Open at the Phoenix Country Club until 1987 when the tournament was moved to the TPC, Scottsdale. The investment bank, Friedman Billings Ramsey became the first corporate sponsor of the Phoenix Open in 2003, followed by Waste Management, its current sponsor.

This new hybrid form of charity event sponsored by a corporation has built the Phoenix Open into the best attended golf event in the world. In 2016, it set a PGA TOUR single day attendance record with 201,003 fans in attendance on Saturday and set a golf tournament attendance record of 618,365 fans.


The magic is in the chemistry of the Thunderbirds’ civic minded zeal and Waste Management’s corporate objectives. If you’re planning to run a golf tournament for your customers and employees, think about partnering with a local charitable organization. If you’re trying to organize a golf tournament to benefit a community or a nonprofit, find a corporate sponsor who’s interested in your cause. The resulting hybrid will exceed your wildest expectations.

Attendance Tech

Although we avoid product endorsements in this blog, now and then we come across a game changer that we feel compelled to share with the corporate planners who seek our services. Since attendance is always the number one concern of corporate event planners, we spend a lot of time researching the newest and most innovative marketing techniques.


In a recent BizBash article, Michael Barnett, C.E.O. of InGo, a social media marketing system for events said,

“For a long time we had a very top-down approach to marketing. What social media has changed is now you can have millions and billions of people buying and engaging with products and events entirely through word of mouth.”

Really? Millions and billions? Entirely through word of mouth? How does one leverage social media to that degree? The article went on to explain.

How Does It Work?

“InGo is integrated with more than two dozen registration programs such as Eventbrite, Cvent, Etouches, Experient, and Active RegOnline. Attendees are invited to register using their Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook accounts. Once they do, the system analyzes their connections in two ways: it looks for people who the attendee has a strong relationship with (based on things like similar education, employers, locations, or likes) and it looks for people who are similar to others who are registered for the event (based on their job functions or title). From that analysis, InGo generates a list of relevant contacts the current attendee can invite to the event with one click.”

Complicated but clever. Integrating the data bases sounds right, but how does the invitation work?

Personalized Invitations

“It uncovers the people that we might not know about that would be a good fit for the event. And they are not getting invited by a corporate email or something from the show. They are getting invited from somebody they know, somebody who they may want to do business with,” says Paul Dwyer, registration director and operations financial analyst for Reed Exhibitions, which uses InGo for some of its shows. For Reed’s International Vision Expo and Conference last September in Las Vegas, Dwyer says attendees sent out 269 personal invitations through InGo which resulted in 234 registrations. Of those, 143 were people who had never attended the show before.

How We See It

Corporate event planners are keeping up with most of the technological advances in the meeting and event industry. We thought, however, that you may have missed this wrinkle. Traditional marketing platforms are receding into history. The modern world communicates more efficiently in real time. If we are to compete for attention in the marketplace, event planners must keep up with the latest marketing technologies. InGo is another example of the innovative thinking that surrounds social media and the powerful connectivity of the internet.

Conference Coma

In a recent article in Successful Meetings Magazine, Ken Sterling coined the term, “conference coma”. We all know what he was talking about. These are the dreaded symptoms:

  • Open-eye napping
  • Compulsive texting
  • Tweeting
  • Inappropriate ear-bud wearing
  • Constant in-seat shifting
  • Absenteeism
  • Mid-day pool lounging

When planners notice this tableau, they know it’s time for a change. We are constantly looking for new ways to engage an audience. In a field like continuing medical education, for example, the proliferation of symposia over the past twenty years has led to repetitive experiences that result in audience ennui. The traditional “sage on the stage” pedagogical format is simply too old fashioned; too much “the same old thing”. Planners and producers are searching for a new way to teach.

Experiential Learning

The Harvard Institute for Learning and Teaching has come up with a program they call “experiential learning”.

Walls covered with blackboard paint and tables on wheels fill one of Harvard’s more unusual new classrooms; hammers and screwdrivers hang from a tool board attached to a half-painted wall. “We want this space to feel like a workshop or a garage,” says Logan McCarty, director of physical sciences education and one of the instructors who designed the new space. “If students are doing a lab, and they have to bolt something to the wall, or hang something from the ceiling, they can do it.” (Harvard Magazine – Learning by Doing)

…The SciBox, as its creators named the sprawling, 2,500-square-foot-space, is the stage for a few of the diverse new pedagogical experiments exploring the possibilities of experiential education – part of Harvard’s broader interest in testing new ways of teaching and learning.

… “Experiential learning is participative—for example, either making or doing,” explains Erin Driver-Linn, associate provost for institutional research and HILT’s director. “What do we need to understand, as learners, that is conceptual? And what do we need to understand by experiencing things in a different way?”

Making a Start

Designing experiential learning programs for continuing education symposia is a challenging task that promises big payoffs if done correctly. Planners are already working with producers to include the following experiential teaching protocols in upcoming trainings:

  • Hands-on Workshops – where attendees get to do a project along with the instructor.
  • Interactive learning – where technology enables attendees to interact with the presenter on a real-time basis.
  • Problem solving formats – where the audience is given a problem to solve rather than an information dump.
  • Teachers as coaches – where the teachers coach active students participating in a project rather than teach passive attendees seated in an auditorium.

Such side-by-side problem-solving is the norm at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, where approximately one-third of engineering courses include an experiential component. Students act like management consultants, taking on real-world puzzles with no clear solution or even problem definition. Faculty members act more like coaches than traditional instructors and, in many cases, they do not have the answers either.

“What do we need to understand, as learners, that is conceptual? And what do we need to understand by experiencing things in a different way?”

Interview with a Master Planner… Part 2

A little over a week ago, I posted a conversation I had with my mentor, a true meeting planner pioneer, now retired. Hoping to acquire more insight into what makes a successful planner, I asked her what were the qualities she thought made her successful. Toward the end of the luncheon we were discussing attention to detail as one of the skills she thought all great planners must possess. Then we went on…

ME: Is there any other inborn skill you think makes a successful planner?

SALLY: “Well, I’d have to say…a sense of adventure. I think the planners that set themselves apart from the rest are the ones who are willing to try new things. Great planners are not just ‘making arrangements’, if you know what I mean. They’re creative…always looking to inject new life into an event. They get excited about the event they’re planning, and their excitement is infectious.”

ME: You know, that’s true. The best planner on my team is always excited about some new technology, or a new venue she has found, or some exotic florist that no one else seems to know about. And somehow or other, we’re always more excited about her events than we are about our own. You’re right. She’s infectious.

SALLY: “I was never satisfied with the status quo. It used to annoy my parents. ‘What’s wrong with that new dress you just bought?’ they would say. ‘It’s perfectly good to wear to another occasion.’ They didn’t understand me. I always seemed to look past what is. In my career, I was always searching for a new way to present a product or a better way to make people feel more comfortable at social events. Every time I wrapped an event, I wondered what I was going to do different the next year. And I think my clients knew this about me. That’s why so many of them stayed with me over the years.”

ME: So, Sally, if I wanted to sum up what you think makes a planner stand out above all the rest what would I say? Would I say…they really care about every client in a personal way…they build great teams…they have a fanatical attention to detail…they hate the status quo…they are creative…would that be fair to say?

SALLY: “That about covers it, I guess. Oh…one other thing. They are usually good communicators. Back in my day we called it being ‘outgoing’…same thing. If a planner can’t communicate eagerly with clients, vendors, attendees, and presenters, they’re probably not going to be very good at pulling people together. And that’s what planners do…pull people together.”

I had arranged this luncheon in an offhand manner. I thought it might be nice to take Sally out to lunch to thank her for acting as my mentor all those early years. But as I drove back to the office I realized that she was still my mentor. Casually, over lunch, Sally had given me the short course in what it takes to be a great meeting planner and the qualities one should look for when hiring a meeting planner. If you haven’t read part one, go back in Recent News and take a look. You won’t be wasting your time.

Building the Perfect Incentive Trip – A 10 Step Guide

Today, travel is being used more and more as an incentive opportunity. So an incentive trip is a great chance for a company that is looking to reward their employees for all their hard work throughout the year. This type of trip can also be known to improve morale and build team spirit. But how do you ensure the plan of events checks all the boxes? How do you know if the destination is enticing enough? Or if the schedule be appropriate for your particular size of group? And most importantly, will you be able to come in under budget?

With these 10 steps, you can glimpse into the process on our end, and also be sure you can set up a successful incentive trip that your employees will be focused to strive for year after year.

  1. Let Premier Submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a Resort and DMC
    Once you submit this, we will request rates, dates and service traits. BUT, we don’t stop there! We’ll also share our objectives and suggestions based on our experiences with other clients.
  2. Talk the Talk
    We’ll need to establish a time frame – one that works best for your particular employees, but also for the location, weather and price. We’ll connect with you to review the necessities, priorities and agenda, to ensure a well-rounded and entertaining trip.
  3. Walk the Walk
    To know what your employees will enjoy and would like to see, we’ll need to put ourselves in their shoes. From this view, we can ensure they are experiencing the destination in the way they’ve been looking forward to for so long.
  4. Take Five
    It is important to “take five” after hearing about each location so that we can collect our thoughts. We ask our supplier partners for a few moments, and then we ask you to write down five key take-away items/feelings to refer to later.
  5. Ask, Don’t Assume
    Budget is a huge consideration, and something that should be discussed at length. Make sure to ask about any and all inclusions, attritions and fees. Assumption is the refuge of all misunderstandings and this is the one time we wouldn’t want to assume.
  6. Make Your List and Check It Twice
    Create a checklist for each category of service and what the highest priorities are. You have to know what you need and want – like rooms, venues, activities, meeting spaces, transportation, etc. After all, you can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you’re looking for!
  7. Review All Notes Again
    Review all your questions, concerns, visions and next steps with your partners. Make sure everyone is still on the same page and that all requests have been considered.
  8. If you Like It, Put a Ring On It
    After your due diligence of research and rechecking (as we don’t suggest impulse decisions), begin securing all parts of your trip by communicating with us your final choice. So we can in turn, continue our work with the hotel in order to secure the best contract for you, while mitigating risks with a thorough review of confirmation and cancellation policies.
  9. Relax and Enjoy Your Event
    Final piece of advice? Let yourself relax and be a part of the event you’ve worked so hard and diligently to craft.

Here at Premier Meeting Services, we know that sometimes the best way to choose a travel destination and agenda is stepping away from our desk to visit in person. We also know that working with trusted partners is critical to avoid planning upsets. So next time you’re thinking it’s time to throw some motivation your employees’ way, reach out to our team and we will help create an unforgettable trip.

Team Building

The Essence

The legendary Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne said it all: “The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.”

Vince Lombardi, no slouch himself at putting together great teams, said: “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Another football great, Joe Paterno, offered this insight: “When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.”

Henry Ford knew a little about building teams when he said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

No one wanted to argue with Steve Jobs when he said: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

One of the greatest team players in history, Babe Ruth, said this: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Team building is the third leg of the human resources triumvirate – RECRUITING – TRAINING – TEAM BUILDING. Until very recently, team building was an afterthought usually left up to the training function or the department heads themselves. Office morale and efficient work flow were seen as every manager’s responsibility. After all, wasn’t it the boss’s job to motivate and lead?

Recruiting and training the best and the brightest and molding them into efficient work groups is now seen as a highly refined professional skill. Back in the day, only charismatic leaders like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs possessed this apparently inborn talent. It was called, “building a great company” and only outliers like Ford and Jobs could do it. Today, the human resources triumvirate is considered an essential in competitive companies, and the team building function now falls to professionals.

Premier Meeting Services designs and executes team building activities and events that seek to:

• Invite new employees to feel like part of the group.
• Instill a sense of mutual benefit in defined work groups.
• Transform company goals into personal goals for all employees.
• Create a common sense of purpose among diverse individuals.
• Encourage employees to have fun at work.
• Help employees feel comfortable depending on one another.
• Help independent personalities learn to trust the team.
• Help Type A employees consider the “other”.
• Promote a deep sense of loyalty in all team members.

Humility is no longer considered a virtue among high-achievers. All successful teams, however, depend on separate, independent individuals seeing themselves as part of something bigger and understanding that they can only accomplish their personal goals by helping the team accomplish its goals.

Can team building events teach today’s employees to replace narcissism with humility? That is the challenge facing every human resource department in the country. It’s a big ask but at Premier that’s what we aim to do.

Interview With a Master Planner

I recently had lunch with my mentor, an old-school wedding planner who expanded her agency beyond weddings to plan some of the most notable national events held in Florida in the 90s. She is a true planning pioneer who, for all practical purposes, invented planning and introduced the world to the face-to-face marketing potential of national association meetings, product launches, and $1,000/plate nonprofit fund raisers. She’s a little old lady now and, as I watched her eat in silence, I began to wonder how this quiet, tidy, little lady grew to be one of the biggest event planners in the country at the end of the 20th century. Here’s a few minutes of the conversation that ensued. What wisdom!

ME: Sally, how did you get started as a meeting planner? I mean, there wasn’t any such thing when you started your agency, was there?
SALLY: My college roommate was getting married in 1968, and she was completely undone about it. She was so excited that she couldn’t even set a date after her fiancé told her to pick any date she wanted. I was so excited for her that I began to help her pick the date and the venue and the band and the caterer and the florist and even the clergyman. What started as two best friends screeching at one another turned into a six-month avocation. I did nothing else. I was working at an insurance agency as a secretary and every day at 5:00 I’d shift gears and work into the night on Joan’s wedding. Well, it went well. Everything went off without a hitch, and at the reception Joan’s cousin asked me if I would help her plan her impending nuptials. One thing led to another and before you know it I started working from my apartment planning weddings full-time.

ME: What was it about that first wedding that made you think you might want to do this for a living?
SALLY: The thing I loved about that first experience was that it was personal. I really loved Joan and really cared about her wedding. I never had that feeling in the insurance office. I thought…Wow…I really love doing this for people I care about. This isn’t work. This is fun. This is personal. And I was so gratified at Joan’s wedding when everything went so well, and she was so pleased that I realized I needed to do something I really cared about for people I cared about. I kept that personal commitment throughout my entire career, even after I started working for big corporations. I made sure I really cared about a client before I would take a commission. I recommend that “personal attachment” to every planner of every event. You won’t care about your work if you have no personal attachment to your clients… and it will show. You won’t be happy in your job and your clients won’t be happy with your performance. That “real caring” is the magic sauce for event planners. That’s what separates the greats from the run-of-the-mill.

ME: How did you go from planning weddings for friends alone in your apartment to planning big corporate events?
SALLY: Well, I began to get a reputation as someone who could handle all the details and knew all the local vendors. So, the first skill I had before I even realized it was that I was learning my way around venues and caterers and bands and florists. I could put a good team together to pull off an event. That’s still the main skill I recommend new planners develop. A great planner is only as good as the team he or she can pull together.

ME: How did you transition from being a wedding planner to a corporate event planner? I mean, what made you think you could do big events? Is it the same skill set in your opinion?
SALLY: Aside from really caring about your client and having a personal relationship with them, I think that big corporate event planners need two other skills that I think came naturally to me. The first is fanatical attention to detail. I might be OCD for all I know.

ME: Oh, you are. Take it from me.
SALLY: Well, I’m glad of it. As the size and complexity of events grew, on one level I never even noticed. Each event was its own story, and I would handle every detail as they came up. It never occurred to me to consider the amount of detail. Every detail got the same amount of my attention. That frame of mind is a must for a big event planner. No stone goes unturned. It’s just natural to people like me.


I will publish a little more of my interview with Sally next week. The more we talked the more I realized that Sally was a legendary event planner not because of what she did but because of who she was. Next week she explains how we can all rise above run-of-the-mill, as she calls it.

How to Keep Them Coming

Premier Meeting Services collaborates with Athena Education Group, LLC, as the continuing medical education provider to plan, develop, and implement live CME conferences, meetings, and symposia at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Over the years, our main challenge has been to keep medical education meetings up-to-date and attractive to an often repeating but ever-evolving audience of medical professionals.

  • The Baby-Boomers in the audience who have been to many CME programs are “old-pros” who attend for very different reasons than their younger millennial colleagues. Often senior practitioners come to network with old friends, recruit employees, and find out “what’s new”.
  • The Millennials, on the other hand, come not only to learn but often to find a job, make new friends, and develop a feeling of belonging to their professional practice group.
  • Differences in motivation are not only generational. Attendees at CME conferences also have a unique personality profile. Medical professionals are often scientists who tend to be more introverted than the typical attendees at a national sales meeting. It is becoming almost mandatory for planners to design networking opportunities that ease the uncomfortable face-to-face component that natural introverts tend to avoid, otherwise they will continue to lose attendance to online learning.

Diverse attendee motivations are the medical meeting planner’s marketing challenge. Make no mistake, attendees expect a customized experience. They will go to the expense and inconvenience of attending a CME program only if they feel it answers their unique needs. What, then, can planners do to uncover these preferential differences in CME audiences from year to year and from seminar to seminar?

5 Steps of Effective Research

Premier Meeting Services follows a step-by-step program when planning each CME program.

  1. Collect available client data – Most clients have attendee preference data gathered from previous trainings. Premier planners analyze available data to extract preferential differences from varying stakeholders. Clients rarely take the time to analyze the data they already have and often aren’t sure what they are looking for. Planners can collect and analyze already collected data.
  2. Interview internal stakeholders – Every member of the organization has a slightly different objective for each CME program. To design effective trainings planners must understand the needs of both young and old, journeymen and rookies, national and international participants, teachers, students, experts, medical media, and medical organization principals.
  3. Design new exit questionnaires for each training – keeping data up-to-date is essential for an accurate knowledge base going forward. If you want to know why people choose your CME offering, the best way to find out is to ask them.
  4. Refine data points to discern – net satisfaction levels – segmented attendance statistics – social media response reports – participation levels – negative elimination reports. These segmentation studies can be converted into action plans for designing the next CME program.
  5. Macro-market research –Refined data points must be viewed in the context of overall market research to truly understand who your target client is and what he wants from your training. Recent market research, for example, reveals that content is no longer king. Contact is king. Attendees are motivated more by making face-to-face contact with colleagues and experts in their field than they are by whatever specific content is being offered.

Not the Same Old Thing

One of the dangers in planning CME programs is to rely solely on content to attract an audience. While it is true that the learning experience is at times compulsory, the choices of where and when a medical professional can get the required continuing education certificate are multiplying algebraically. Planners must be prepared to answer the question, “Why would I attend an event rather than learn online?” When you can answer that question for a varied constituency, you are on the road to success at your next CME event.

Don’t Forget to – VIDEO IT!

At Premier Meeting Services we are advising clients to revise their AV budgets to include a professional video production company. Like most meeting planners who produce continuing education programs and company training sessions, videotaping high profile presenters and breakout sessions is nothing new for us. But, recently, we have upped our game.

We realize how valuable a complete video record of every event is to attendees, clients, and meeting planners alike. Professionally produced video re purposes and magnifies an event as follows:

  • Educational sessions and trainings can be turned into webinars.
  • Customer interviews can become case studies.
  • Recorded content can be streamed for a blended event of live and online. In member-driven associations, for example, members who cannot attend the event are often willing to pay to attend online. This is a great additional revenue source.
  • Your event never really starts or ends; it just takes place over four or five days and the other 360 days it lives on as you drip-feed the content out to people who went to the conference as well as to people who didn’t.
  • The most valuable information is captured on tape. Whether it’s a recent medical breakthrough or an educational session for certification, when it’s captured on video it’s value to your organization is expanded dramatically.
  • Your marketing department can broadcast your event’s culture via YouTube or Vimeo.

Do you need a Pro?

Each of these different uses requires different content and production value. Only a professional video production company can replicate the true value of your event. We have found, for example, that if your video production company can make content available immediately after a breakout session, the people who just walked out of the session often want to go back and watch something they may have missed or need a reminder of. If you wait two weeks to make it available, very few people will watch it.

Yes, You Do!

We have all noticed the difference between the videos we take on our iPhones of our child’s holiday pageant and the latest Hollywood blockbuster. The difference, of course, is production value.

  • Filming with two or three cameras
  • HD sound recording and dubbing
  • Editing and producing for a wide variety of uses
  • Adding AR/3D/Special effects, etc.

Because we have found so many professional applications for our event videos, home production is out of the question for us. Putting your camera on a tripod and turning it on will give you a record of your event, but shooting with a mixture of wide and tight shots then editing it together will give you a significantly better product that only a pro can produce.

For example, pros shoot what is known as B-Roll – other stuff which could conceivably be happening at the same time as the main event action (audience reaction – slides on the screen – crowds coming and going at your event – an aerial view of the venue – etc.) that adds drama, texture, and context to your event narrative.

The video pros we work with often suggest stage lightening. Stage lighting isn’t about accuracy, it’s about mood – and for that reason pros often use unique colors to light action at an event where the whole set may be bathed in blue, or red to create an effect that will alter the narrative in ways that you would never have imagined.

Whatever You Do – VIDEO IT!

A professional video recording of your entire event is no longer an event extra – it is an essential. Check with your event planner to make sure that they have a professional video production company they work with and gladly include the cost in your budget.