Ignite a Sp@rk of inspiration. August 2009 Issue

August 2009
Ignite - a spark of inspiration
We’ve been feeling a mild case of mid-summer meeting madness this month, so thought we’d review a few wild and crazy gathering places we’ve spotted recently.
Pedal power. The Conference Bike is a free-wheeling novelty dreamed up by American artist Eric Staller, built by a German manufacturer, and adopted up by the likes of Google, which bought two a couple of years ago to use as “conference rooms.”
Operation desert snow. Canadians may be blasé about the white stuff – especially in August –  but it’s hard not to be intrigued by the Alpine Meeting Package at the Kempinski Hotel Mall of Emirates in hot, dry Dubai. At this over-the-top property, guests stay in Ski Chalets with views overlooking the slopes of Ski Dubai – the world’s largest indoor ski resort.
Light as air. From its blow-up Office in a Bucket (about $6,000), to the show-stopping 12-metre Cube (which sells for about $40,000), Inflate U.S. carves out meeting and event space from thin air for clients like Garnier Canada. Also whimsical, if less practical, the inflatable Cloud meeting room by Swedish designer Monica Forster looks like a break-out room that might easily float into the sky.
Marked up in Denmark. The MindLab offices of the Danish government hatched up a unique concept for its hallmark meeting space: an egg-shaped conference room without corners. Step inside “the Mind”, and it’s all one big whiteboard: you can write your bright ideas over all the walls. (Photo: Magnesium)
The V-word. While there may be a recession in the real world, the virtual world is trying to cash in as a low-cost meetings destination. The 3D, computer-generated Second Life world is reinventing itself as a work venue for collaborative meetings and training. Read a Second Life case study of IBM’s experience hosting a global technology conference online. Or watch this strange video promoting an online conference centre called Virtualis.


Get epic value for your next meeting in Canada and the opportunity to donate to your favourite local cause. Book your meeting by August 31st, 2009, for more details visit www.starwoodhotels.com/valueaddedmeetings


Canada Rocks 2009 Fundraiser
When: Monday, Aug. 24, 2009
Why go:
Party for a good cause, at the fourth annual fundraiser for meetings industry research and careers in Canada.
What’s in it for you: Mix and mingle with other meeting and event pros. Snap up great goodies in a Silent Auction to support the MPI Foundation Canada.  

More industry events at Ignitemag.ca

good to know
Biz travellers get tax break on personal perks
Employees who use personal credit cards to pay for business travel and other expenses are getting a break from the Canada Revenue Agency. Any loyalty points or frequent flier miles collected no longer have to be reported as employment benefits on their tax returns, as long as they’re not converted to cash, don’t represent a planned employment perk or way to avoid taxes. Employers, however, do still have to report fair market value of any loyalty points earned on corporate cards, once redeemed, on employees’ T4 slips. To review other recent administrative policy changes on tax treatment of business travel and non-cash gifts, download this PDF of CRA’s Income Tax Technical News.
Ban “BlackBerry prayer” at meetings?
Two U of T, Rotman School of Management professors have raised wireless ire by calling to ban the use of BlackBerries, iPhones and all other e-mail devices in corporate board meetings. The distractions they create are contributing to bad decisions, write Rotman professors David Beatty and Mark Weber in a Financial Times column, and may represent a breach of corporate directors’ fiduciary duties: “Everyone has grown familiar with the routine: there is a quiet buzz, hands reach for holsters, heads and shoulders slump semi-prostrate into a ‘BlackBerry prayer’; and two or three minutes later the supposed guardians of shareholder interests and vigilant governance return their gaze — and their attention —  to the meeting and business at hand." BlackBerry addicts have been quick to defend their right to meet-and-click.
Ultimate perk: ‘Compete’ in the Olympics
If you’re trying to motivate good employees on the bench through recessionary times, putting them on loan can be a way to offer competitive on-the-job training. The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) has announced a plan to offer businesses and governments the opportunity to give their employees a once-in-a-lifetime professional experience through working temporarily for the Games. The organization has launched an employee loan program to fill most of its remaining 1,500 short-term jobs, preferably people who already live in the Vancouver area or who can arrange their own accommodations. More details available here on VANOC's website.

Calling all science geeks. Here’s a chance to work alongside an A-list of medical experts, engineers, rocket scientists, and other all-round brainiacs. The Canadian Science Policy Conference 2009 Organizing Committee is looking for a Conference Program Manager on a project basis to coordinate and manage aspects of its event planned October 28-30, 2009. Duties include creating a conference program guide, building registrations, and ensuring logistics are in place. Full listing on this job site.

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