Aug. 26-28, 2019 • Louisville, Kentucky • Kentucky International Convention Center

In the meantime, check out the education below, presented this past year at Connect Mega 2018.

Thursday, Aug. 23
2-4:15 p.m. | Preconference Education Opportunities

Presented by Darrell Hammond, Sr.

How you were raised shapes much of how you view and interact with the world. Are you forced to work with "knuckleheads" from other generations and cultures who just don’t get it? Do you find yourself wondering, "What were they thinking when they said that/did that/responded that way?" Want some practical suggestions? If so, this workshop is for you.

Presented by Lisa Sommer Devlin and Barbara Dunn

Meeting planners don’t have the time or budget for contract legal review, so they must learn to “think more like a lawyer.” Two industry attorneys will lead groups in analyzing contract clauses, decoding language and providing insight on legal issues. You won’t be a lawyer after this session, but you’ll have a better understanding of how to review clauses. Bring your own tough clauses for class review.

Friday, Aug. 24
9:30-10:30 a.m. | Corporate/Expo/Specialty Education

Presented by Darrell Hammond, Sr.

When was the last time you did a personal value evaluation? Do you invest in upgrading your ability to create/bring value? Join us for a deep dive into traits, values, behaviors, habits and perspectives that make us indispensable.

Presented by Alex Plaxen

Learn about your options for developing killer social media sponsorship packages that mutually benefit both your sponsors and your organization. With the rise in new platforms like Snapchat and new live streaming capabilities, authenticity and shareability have new clout. Learn how to create innovative sponsorships that will appeal to your attendees and show an increase in ROI to your sponsors.

Presented by Brandt Krueger and Will Curran

"Ladies and gentlemen! In this corner, representing convenience and knowledge of the venue, it’s the in-house AV company! And… in this corner, representing expanded inventory and lower prices, please welcome… the third-party AV company!" Join us for this 3 round smackdown to discuss the pros and cons of each model, and help discover the right fit for you. This session features representatives from each model, an impartial moderator, and plenty of Q&A time for your burning AV questions, both in-room and anonymously via mobile app.

Presented by Aaron Wolowiec, Tahira Endean and Austin Johnson

This session will take you on a refined customer journey, rethinking the design of key event elements. The panelists will lead a rich discussion that will leave you with key takeaways you can implement.

Presented by Lisa Devlin and Barbara Dunn

This session will help those with less contracting experience understand key legal clauses. From how to properly list the contracting party; to what should be in a cancellation clause; to understanding indemnity; this session gives the key legal information you must know. Two attorneys who’ve worked in the industry for years guide this session. Even experienced industry pros may learn something!

11 a.m.-noon | Corporate/Expo/Specialty Education

Presented by Mahoganey Jones

Tired of planning the same events year over year that produce the same results? Avoid death by meetings by efficiently validating your event to make sure it is one your audience wants to attend. Every event should be an opportunity to generate revenue for your association or organization while reinforcing your business goals and objectives. This session will teach you how to validate your event to ensure you get buy-in from your members, board, staff and attendees while maximizing your ROI.

Presented by MaryAnne Bobrow

Human trafficking is a $5.9 billion criminal industry that is now attractive to the crime syndicates. It is not just young women. It is young children, both male and female and who come from all walks of life. There is a very quiet movement in our industry to sign agreements, but not much talk beyond that. All meeting professionals should be aware there is a simple way to help—are you?

Presented by Lisa Meller and Michele Wierzgac, MSED, CMM

"Strategic Meetings Management" sounds great in theory, but from the pitch to implementation there seems to be a disconnect. In this session, we uncover what it is, how to simplify it, and how to sell it to the stakeholders. Learn from third party corporate planner Lisa Meller and renowned leadership expert Michele Wierzgac how to make the case and make an impact!

Presented by Chris Gasbarro

Stop wishing you had big budgets and use that energy to create stunning designs for your own meetings. In a world of Amazon Prime and Hobby Lobby, there are numerous resources and approaches to improve meeting aesthetics that drive the success of your event. Hear some tips and resources from Ember, a firm that does more with less for brands like Saucony, Keds, Footjoy Golf and more.

Presented by Tyra Hilliard

As any planner or food provider knows, food and beverage is a risky area. There are issues of dietary restrictions, food allergies, alcohol service, performance, food donation and more. We discuss the legalities behind food and beverage service. From service standards to legal requirements regarding donating food, this is the law of food.

2-3 p.m. | Association Education

Presented by Tracy Stuckrath

Understanding the value of the BEO is vitally important to the success of your event. In this interactive "walk & talk" session, we’ll travel to the hotel's back-of-house to visit the departments the BEO travels throughout its lifecycle—kitchen, beverage, production, floral and more—to get to know the staff who manage and rely on the BEO to help them create and execute your event.

Presented by Ryan Lynch

Learn how to get ahead of the competition using the latest hotel trends, current market data and forecasts for the coming year. STR provides a single source of global hotel data covering daily and monthly performance, shifts in group and transient business, changes in hotel supply and forecasts. Our data gives the power back to meeting planners when it comes to negotiating hotel room rates and group blocks. This presentation will include Occupancy, ADR, and RevPAR data for the total US as well as select top markets in the US.

Presented by Michael Owen and MaryAnne Bobrow

If the word pirate conjures images of Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Long John Silver or Jack Sparrow, consider yourself lucky. Today, for a growing number of meeting professionals, the term has a dramatically different—but no less chilling—meaning. Room block poachers are modern-day scalawags preying on unsuspecting organizations and negatively impacting room blocks. This results in headaches for planners, lost revenue and possible attrition nightmares. Though not illegal, it is unethical. Through case studies and best practices, learn how to become better equipped to fend them off.

Presented by Chris Gasbarro

Convention Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) and Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are essential when selling the city, properties and destination for any market. What is the best way to work with one, and what can they offer? What structure works best for both those working at the organization and those working with the organization? Come learn from your industry peers the inner workings of evaluting a piece of business, as well as the resources available to all planners and partners.

3:30-4:30 p.m. | Association Education

Presented by Cabrin Kelly-Hale

Today's planners are faced with stringent budgets and the need for diverse and enhanced menus. Learn the creative ins and outs of marrying a creative and delicious menu to your event's budget from a career hotel caterer.

Presented by Aaron Wolowiec

Sponsoring programs, products and services can be a significant source of revenue for most associations; however, our traditional approaches are resulting in both lost revenue and disengaged sponsors, particularly as sponsorship demand has increased and sponsorship budgets have decreased.

Presented by Brandt Krueger and Will Curran

"Ladies and gentlemen! In this corner, representing convenience and knowledge of the venue, it’s the in-house AV company! And… in this corner, representing expanded inventory and lower prices, please welcome… the third-party AV company!" Join us for this 3 round smackdown to discuss the pros and cons of each model, and help discover the right fit for you. This session features representatives from each model, an impartial moderator, and plenty of Q&A time for your burning AV questions, both in-room and anonymously via mobile app.

Presented by Courtney Stanley and MaryAnne Bobrow

Sexual harassment, alcohol abuse and human trafficking are a few of the weighty topics we will explore together. During this highly interactive session, whatever is said in the room stays in the room. Be prepared to ask questions and engage in an open, safe environment to become educated on controversial topics impacting our industry.

Saturday, Aug. 25
9:30-10:30 a.m. | Corporate/Expo/Specialty Education

Presented by Brian Avery

"Luck Is Not a Strategy: A 5-step Roadmap to SAFER Meetings and Events" is an exploration of major incidents that have negatively impacted large and small scale events and venues and 5 steps you should immediately take to reduce your liability and avoid costly missteps before you and your organization experience a catastrophic loss.

Presented by Cabrin Kelly-Hale

Today's planners are faced with stringent budgets and the need for diverse and enhanced menus. Learn the creative ins and outs of marrying a creative and delicious menu to your event's budget from a career hotel caterer.

Presented by Ryan Lynch

Learn how to get ahead of the competition using the latest hotel trends, current market data and forecasts for the coming year. STR provides a single source of global hotel data covering daily and monthly performance, shifts in group and transient business, changes in hotel supply and forecasts. Our data gives the power back to meeting planners when it comes to negotiating hotel room rates and group blocks. This presentation will include Occupancy, ADR, and RevPAR data for the total US as well as select top markets in the US.

Presented by Chris Gasbarro

Chris Gasbarro and Kathy Del Medico are 20+ year event professionals and owners of Ember. Yin and yang, Bert and Ernie, Chris has been dreaming up event creative and challenging status quo while Kathy gets to inherit and bring those ideas to life somehow. How can you make the leap, do it safely, AND deliver on expectations, all while balancing powerful creative outcomes with logistics realities?

Presented by Barbara Dunn and Lisa Devlin

What legal issues plague you the most? Do you have an unanswered contract question? Do you feel like legal sessions don’t address the issues you face? In this totally interactive session, two industry lawyers hold an open forum to address whatever legal issues the audience requests. Bring your questions and experiences to get analysis of the issues that are important to you.

11 a.m.-noon | Corporate/Expo/Specialty Education

Presented by Austin Johnston

Ever consider a big idea to inspire change in the deisgn of your meeting or event? Have you thought what technology could be infused into design elements to really wow your attendees? In this session, you will learn content design tips, tricks and resources to ensure you keep the bar high. Even having a new outlook on event signage can open your creativity. Join the conversation and walk away with short-term ideas to be implemented immediately into your shows, making them "stories" that are better told.

Presented by Michele Wierzgac

Analyzing your stakeholders is critical to the success of every idea. By engaging the right people in the right way, you can make a big difference in getting your ideas heard. The projects you manage and actions you take will affect more and more people—the more likely your actions will impact those who have power and influence over your projects or career.

Presented by Michael Owen

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) launched May 25 this year and has changed the way organizations of all sizes deal with the challenges of data protection. The U.S. and other non-EU countries stand to be affected directly by the GDPR because the new privacy model applies to any enterprise in the world that targets the European market in offering goods, services or profiles of European citizens created by processing the personal data drawn from those member states. There is no avoidance, only penalities. Are you prepared?

Presented by Tracy Stuckrath and Chance Thompson

Understanding the value of the BEO is vitally important to the success of your event. In this interactive "walk & talk" session, we’ll travel to the hotel's back-of-house to visit the departments the BEO travels throughout its lifecycle—kitchen, beverage, production, floral and more—to get to know the staff who manage and rely on the BEO to help them create and execute your event.

Presented by Alex Plaxen

An effective communications plan includes 3 things: audit your vulnerabilities, train your spokespeople, and establish means of communicating. You'll learn how to use social media when it really matters. Effective crisis communications requires advance work in order to minimize damage. Create a communications plan for your event and make critical decisions for your organization. Be prepared!

2-3 p.m. | Association Education

Presented by Mahoganey Jones

Tired of planning the same events year over year that produce the same results? Avoid death by meetings by efficiently validating your event to make sure it is one your audience wants to attend. Every event should be an opportunity to generate revenue for your association or organization while reinforcing your business goals and objectives. This session will teach you how to validate your event to ensure you get buy-in from your members, board, staff and attendees while maximizing your ROI.

Presented by Brian Avery

"Luck Is Not a Strategy: A 5-step Roadmap to SAFER Meetings and Events" is an exploration of major incidents that have negatively impacted large and small scale events and venues and 5 steps you should immediately take to reduce your liability and avoid costly missteps before you and your organization experience a catastrophic loss.

Presented by Chris Gasbarro

Stop wishing you had big budgets and use that energy to create stunning designs for your own meetings. In a world of Amazon Prime and Hobby Lobby, there are numerous resources and approaches to improve meeting aesthetics that drive the success of your event. Hear some tips and resources from Ember, a firm that does more with less for brands like Saucony, Keds, Footjoy Golf and more.

Presented by Tracy Stuckrath

Do you know how much food was thrown away at your last meeting? Globally, more than 30 percent of food is thrown away each year. In the meetings industry, that is billions of dollars wasting away. Think it does not affect your bottom line? Think again! Some decisions you make when planning menus can help you save money and not go to waste.

3:30-4:30 p.m. | Association Education

Presented by Tahira Endean

Science shows interactive design which engages all our senses—sight, smell, sound, taste and touch—triggers deeper learning which is retained longer and offers a greater level of comfort for participants. We will work in groups to discover easy additions to any event which can be implemented by any organization to drive stronger results.

Presented by Tyra Hilliard

As any planner or food provider knows, food and beverage is a risky area. There are issues of dietary restrictions, food allergies, alcohol service, performance, food donation and more. We discuss the legalities behind food and beverage service. From service standards to legal requirements regarding donating food, this is the law of food.

Presented by Lisa Meller and Michele Wierzgac, MSED, CMM

"Strategic Meetings Management" sounds great in theory, but from the pitch to implementation there seems to be a disconnect. In this session, we uncover what it is, how to simplify it, and how to sell it to the stakeholders. Learn from third party corporate planner Lisa Meller and renowned leadership expert Michele Wierzgac how to make the case and make an impact!

Presented by Shane Cutler, Norma Charette, Liz Verhalen and Adam Stluka

This engaging panel of experienced meeting planners and university staff will share the specialized benefits and services available when hosting an event or conference on a college campus. Come back to college with us and learn how you can provide an exceptional experience using unique facilities for your attendees without having to compromise your budget.

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