HSMAI Affordable Meetings® West 2011 brings event planners, suppliers, and properties together to do business in Long Beach, California
Jay Hung | Jun 16, 2011
The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) organization held their renowned Affordable Meetings® West 2011 conference at the Long Beach Convention Center yesterday and today, June 15-16. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Affordable Meetings® brand, it is a series of events for bringing together event professionals and meeting planners and helping them to produce more successful events thru education, networking opportunities, and connecting them with exhibitors and suppliers.
About 800 or so event professionals were in attendance, including meeting planners, trade associations, corporate planners, exhibitors, and suppliers. Speakers spoke on a variety of topics across 3 distinct tracks for a total of 17 sessions:
- Intermediate (for mid-level event professionals)
- Advanced (for senior leaders on executive level topics).
Additionally, there were workshops to round out the educational offerings:
- Meeting & Event Planner Boot Camp (intensive, 2-day interactive course for new or transitioning event planners)
- CMP and Senior Leaders Breakfast (invitation only workshop titled “Walk, Talk and Negotiate Like a CEO”)
- SPIN Think Tank (networking meetings and roundtable discussions by the Senior Planners Industry Network)
The buzz from the attendees was that the sessions were good – very informative and educational. Most of my time was spent in the technology track (with the exception of my last session), and you can find the live tweet coverage for a few of those sessions here. Tip: read from the bottom up, as it’s in reverse chronological order (unfortunately I missed the popular Mobile session, which had standing room only, and discussed best practices in utilizing mobile technologies for events and event planning). One consistent trend I picked up on in the technology track was social media – lots of discussion on social media, from community to blogs to Facebook pages to Twitter streams and hashtags. Great tips were provided on how to get started, what tools to leverage, and how to start formulating a social strategy.
The exhibition hall featured suppliers from meeting facilities, destinations, convention visitor bureaus (CVBs), products, suppliers, and services. I would estimate about 70% of the exhibitors to be CVBs, destinations, and meeting facilities, with the remaining 30% rounded out by product and service suppliers.
Most of the attendees I had the chance to speak with were event planners, with many corporations and trade associations represented, and a few independents. It was interesting to hear their stories, goals, and challenges, many of which are similar despite their distinct industries. The general theme was that everyone was there to learn, and to make new connections with peers and potential business prospects.
And the best part of Affordable Meetings® West? It’s FREE for attendees who are qualified meeting planners and event professionals.
Stay tuned for a great and informative follow-up article, where I had the chance to sit down and speak with Fran Brasseux, the Executive Vice President of HSMAI. We talked about HSMAI the organization, its roots and its mission, the recent rebranding of HSMAI, as well as the evolution and rebranding of the Affordable Meetings® brand into MEET: Meetings, Events, Education, and Technology.
Filed Under: Conference & Event Planning