At first glance, an industry event hosted by an association with “Convention” in its title might appear an odd bedfellow for a group obsessed with all things incentive travel. Conventions, after all, usually concentrate on accruing mass groups of people, while incentives by design are often purposely delivered to a smaller, more selective audience.
That said, attendees at PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2022 were told to expect the Association’s “strongest content program in CL history” in a pre-event email last week — and day one absolutely delivered. Here are five key takeaways from Monday that incentive professionals should be keen to capitalize on, alongside their PCMA industry peers.
1) To lead, you must guard others’ physical and emotional wellbeing
Among the many quotable lines from an opening keynote and Q&A session with investigative journalist Ronan Farrow, “Good leaders protect their people” is a takeaway that will stick for quite a while.
In a world where COVID-19 is still present, this means nailing the basics to ensure you’re able to keep qualifiers safe. Digging deeper, however — even into the turf Ronan often reports from — it also means ensuring clients, employees, and partners remain morally grounded, too. As an industry, we need to make it clear that we’re championing sound codes of ethics and solid values. Need a little help getting started? Our Manifesto series outlines our own purpose and direction as an association, and SITE’s Code of Ethics is always close at hand, too!
2) The incredible power of aligning creativity and purpose
SITE Member and Executive Director of Business Events for Destination Canada Chantal Sturk-Nadeau moderated a stellar Q&A with Daniel Lamarre, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Board at Cirque du Soleil. Mind-bending in more ways than one, it was thrilling to feel excited again about the power and potential of live entertainment — with no better ambassador for this than Daniel himself.
It’s well worth a replay to those who can directly access PCMA’s content, if only to understand the reference about to be made; but one of the more quirky-yet-profound takeaways from Daniel’s talk was to “hire your own clown.” By this, Daniel means to invoke a symbol in your day-to-day that reflects what you do and why you do it.
A powerful incentive experience can do exactly this: capture the symbolic purpose and potential of what you do, through the destination you select. And true props to SITE members like Chantal for leading strong organizations such as Destination Canada that are well-positioned to help us do exactly that when shaping our incentive travel plans.
3) Reward those who are innovating despite the many curveballs COVID has thrown
Other highlights of day one were decidedly non-marquee moments that nevertheless provided major inspiration for how we can all be promoting standout incentive destinations.
Major kudos first of all to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) for their nonchalant, jaw-drop mention that the city has increased available meeting and event space over the past two years, growing from 11.5 million square feet of space pre-COVID to 14.5 million square feet and counting today. We’d also kindly remind our LVCVA friends that we currently have an open RFP opportunity for future SITE NITE America dates (hello, 1500+ top-tier attendee event!) in their lovely incentive destination…
Also earning rave reviews was a performance by jessica Care moore and Marion Hayden on behalf of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. The pure passion and love for their city poured out every second the two were on stage; THIS is how you do destination branding to attract incentive clients, and to then get qualifiers excited about your chosen incentive destination.
4) Are we sleeping on the incentive potential of Chinese and other APAC companies?
Day one came to a close with a “Predictions 2022” presentation by NYU Marketing Professor and branding savant Scott Galloway. Among the many, many insights he packed into an hour-long talk was the rise of “super apps” in 2022. Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent are already well on their way to delivering on this prediction. These superstar companies are ones many of us track in the business press, which begs the question: should we be paying more attention to the economic and soft power reach of APAC companies, and the region’s growth as a source market for incentive travel? Our own research would suggest so!
5) Our biggest regret, and our most profound opportunity
Perhaps the best sum-up to close out day one was delivered by onsite emcee Holly Ransom at the end of Professor Galloway’s talk. One of her biggest takeaways, she said, was his opening questions of “what’s our biggest regret?” coming out of COVID, quickly followed by “what’s our most profound opportunity?”
While Scott’s answer lies more in the social media realm, we challenge all of you to answer the questions he’s posed in light of our industry. What’s the biggest regret you have coming out of COVID-19? And what’s the most profound opportunity we have now, in a new year, to dive even deeper into a successful recovery that showcases and supports incentive travel for decades to come?
Are you in Vegas this week at PCMA Convening Leaders? Tell us what we missed — or let us know what above resonates most with you and your organization!