Ignite a Sp@rk of inspiration. October 6, 2010 Issue

OCTOBER 6, 2010
Ignite - a spark of inspiration

If your conference, training event or annual get-together is falling into the same-old, same-old comfort zone, we have expert advice to help shake up your content and put innovation on the agenda.

Tap into your audience. If your organization has problems to solve or challenges to meet, the best answers won’t necessarily come from the big-ticket speakers you may be auditioning. At many gatherings, “the true experts are in the audience and not on stage,” says Ed Bernacki, founder of the Ottawa-based Idea Factory, and author of the Seven Rules for Designing More Innovative Conferences. Remember, you’re not entertaining your attendees, you’re providing an environment in which to engage in new ideas and learn behaviours.
Rethink your planning template. If you’ve inherited a well-worn template to plan the same events each year - filling in the blanks with new dates, venues and speaker names – take the initiative to help your stakeholders start fresh and rethink the event’s ROI. “If they’re investing money to bring people together on behalf of your organization, it’s valuable to spend time to review or define your objectives, and calculate how the organization will profit,” says Bernacki. One tool you can use is this Conference Effectiveness Kit strategic planning guide, shared here exclusively with subscribers of e-Sp@rk.
Give people time to learn. Adjust the pace of proceedings for your audience to absorb and reflect on what’s been said to get the most from your investment in hired speakers. “You pay a bundle for a motivational speaker who talks for 60 minutes, people applaud, and then, usually, it’s right onto lunch or something else,” says Bernacki. “Why not tack an extra 20 minutes and prompt people to talk amongst themselves  on the messages they got?” When people discuss what they’ve learned while it’s fresh, it’s more likely to influence behaviour and meet conference objectives, he says.
Seed the networking process. Every conference planner knows the value of unstructured time for people to meet and mingle. But why rely on chance encounters to spark business relationships and ideas? Find ways to use this time productively by helping people connect to share ideas and interests. For instance, position flipcharts or signs around the room to ID your organization’s five or six burning questions or topics, to help match interested parties.
Focus on the take-home. A blank pad is nice to have in a conference kit, but often ends the event lost at the bottom of the bag. Consider adding take-home tools such as checklists, business card organizers and even smart phone apps to help participants share and comment on ideas. Bernacki takes this idea a step further, creating a complete Conference Navigator Guide to help delegates organize thoughts and ideas ­– with tips to turn what they learn into real-life action.

Find more corporate and association event planning  ideas and resources at ignitemag.ca, or share yours with us on facebook or at IgniteMeetingsConnect.


SITE Canada Education Day

When: Oct. 20, 2010
Where: The Thompson Toronto
Why go:
Add to the dialogue at Canada’s only educational conference focused on the incentive market, and learn what still works when it comes to motivating others.
What’s in it for you: Download the event details to see opportunities to network, and register online before Oct. 11, 2010 to save on conference fees and flights on Porter Airlines. Plus, you can check out one of the city’s hottest new venues, the Thompson Toronto.

More industry events at Ignitemag.ca

good to know
Tallying up the G8/G20 contracts
Now that some of the numbers are out on last summer’s G8/G20 summits in Muskoka and Toronto, consumer media have fixated on obvious big-ticket contracts, like the $57 million in accommodations and food services billed by Aramark, and the no-brainer $5.27 million to take over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. But perhaps more noteworthy, from a logistics-planning perspective, were some of the out-of-the-ordinary items in the event arsenal, such as $100,000 for explosives detectors, $23,000 for mass casualty kits from CTOMS and more than $280,000 on aerial surveys and maps of the terrain. To tally up your own review, CBC has put together this searchable database of G8/G20 contracts as detailed to the House of Commons.
Fewer hotel deals in 2011, but car rates should drop
In its 2011 Corporate Travel Forecast and Hotel Negotiability Index, Expedia corporate travel specialist Egencia suggests it will be a challenging year for corporate negotiations with preferred hotel partners. Cities firmest on rates will be Atlanta, Boston and Seattle, while destinations like Calgary and Houston are expected to offer more wiggle room on prices. However, Egencia indicates corporate travellers should expect lower Canadian car rental rates year-over-year in 2011, a trend that runs contrary to the North American average. See Egencia’s projected rates in this industry release.
Companies try to reward their way out of tough times
With many North American companies still struggling to achieve economic recovery, a couple of “old media” players in the U.S. are vying to “reward” bright ideas from their workers with cash prizes. Earlier this year, the head of Condé Nast offered $10,000 to the employee who came up with the best idea to help the business. And, last month, Hearst Corp. put out a similar mission, inviting any and all employees to pitch a new business idea for funding, plus “professional recognition and financial rewards.” The internal program is dubbed Hearst Innovation.
Share your event news, case studies or story ideas with us here at ignitemag.ca.
A leader to advance employee wellness programs
For someone with the right background in employee benefits, Scotiabank has a contract position for a Senior Manager, Wellness to help develop and deliver its corporate wellness policies and programs for Canada and the U.S. that align with the total rewards philosophy and support the Bank's goals and strategies. See the full job description on the bank’s website
A people-person who knows how to reward performance
If you know how to rev-up a service team for the best results,  Carlson Marketing Group has been looking for a Bilingual Rewards and Recognition Supervisor who’ll oversee the contests, events and programs for its contact centre agents in Toronto and Montreal. If your dream job is to create, implement and manage employee rewards and recognition initiatives, see the details on Carlson’s career site.


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