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11 Take-Aways from IACC 2011

Monday, March 28th, 2011

The 30th annual conference for the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) was held at The National Conference Center this past week. Each year, a chosen conference center hosts the annual IACC conference, we were honored to host the 2011 IACC  conference. Here are 12 take-aways from the 2011 IACC Conference:

  • Social media makes a large breakthrough – at the IACC conference before, during & after. The twitter hashtag #IACC2011 made its debut in February and gained momentum in the days leading up to the conference. During the first session which featured a web-casted Thought Leaders Panel discussion, tweeps could direct their questions to panelists by tweeting to @IACCthought. Throughout the conference, attendees and non-attendees tweeted about sessions using the hashtag #IACC2011 or tweeting discussion questions to @IACCconfcenters.
  • Apps are used to engage attendees – aside from engaging attendees through social media such as LinkedIn questions and Twitter walls and hashtags. IACC members on-site could play SCVNGR, a Google app with challenges. IACC developed their own SCVNGR game where attendees could interact and meet others with challenges, points, and rewards on their smart-phone.

  • ARAMARK Executive Chefs know how to impress! – On the opening night, 7 Executive Chefs came together to create the IACC Road Trip: A Taste of ARAMARK. The National Tour showcased items specific to regions around the United States including West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, New England, Deep South, Bayou, and Chesapeake Bay. Pictured above is Executive Chef Rannae Hamlet’s Smoked Canadian Salmon and Idaho Trout with Smoke Bacon Foam, Fresh Dill, over Quail Egg.
  • 5 Stages of Meetings – From the Thought Leaders Panel discussion,the panelists discussed 5 Stages of Meetings. Attract, Entering, Engaging, Exiting, and Extending all which make up the 5 key concepts conference centers should know in creating compelling meeting experiences for clients.

  • IACC Copper Skillet Judges awards U.K. Executive Chef - In an intense competition, IACC Executive Chefs from around the world competed for the title of “2011 Chef of The Year.” With 15 minutes to review their ingredients, 5 minutes to brainstorm, and 30 minutes to cook, the 7 Executive Chefs raced to create the best dish and become the 2011 IACC Chef of the Year. Executive Chef Jamian Lewish of the Devenport House in the U.K. was awarded this year’s title.

  • A Universal Conference Center Goal - as best stated by Joan Einsenstodt, a 30 year veteran of the meetings industry, a portion of meeting planners and event professionals aren’t aware of the benefits a conference center; they may mistake a conference center as a hotel with meeting space. However it shall be every conference center and meeting planner’s goal in 2011 and beyond to explain the conference center value and the 32 universal criteria of IACC.
  • Join the #eventprofs community on Twitter – coupled with Joan Eisenstodt’s statement about educating on conference centers, joining the #eventprofs on Twitter is another strong suggestion from Joan. As discussed during the “Joan Eisenstodt Show” with Camille Paluscio from VW and Bill Reed from Experient at the IACC conference,by joining in the #eventprofs conversation, you’ll increase the ROI of your conference  center.  ROI is not only defined as reducing costs – “It’s the value delivered. If that means understanding the product better such as a conference center, then that’s also the ROI [with using social media].”
  • Technology and Room Set-Up Play Key Roles – Design of a room can be the biggest factor in the success of a meeting. Meeting projectors should be set in the left corner of a room, with the speaker presenting in the middle and the entrance/exit at the back of the room. Distraction-free meetings that are appealing to the eye and the mind.

  • Apps will make a breakthrough – Apps in the hospitality industry are becoming increasingly popular. As hotels develop their own apps as a channel of customer service, those who seek real-time information on their smart phones are early adapters of this technology trend. Conference centers should be next to pick up on the trend with property information, shuttles times, meeting agenda, and more.
  • Food is where the mind is – Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength discusses her compelling research on how food affects the mind by enhancing mood, performance, and learning. Attendees created their own meeting menus for successful learning and discovered what works best for meetings and what should be avoided. For instance, honey helps memory and garlic and ginger create clarity. Andrea recommends using all three!
  • Award Wrap-Up – The following awards were given during Thursday night’s evening reception. The Pyramid Award Winner was Melissa Fromento, Group Publisher of MeetingsNet, Award of Excellence was given to Robert Sanders of Hospitality Resource Group, Conference Center Industry Award 2011 awarded to Leah Bernick from George Washington University, Doris Sklar Award to EJ Lee, and last, congratulations to Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt Associates who received the Mel Hosansky Award – the highest honor in IACC.


What was your favorite session from IACC 2011?  If you didn’t attend this year, we hope to see you in 2012!