The 62nd edition of PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) Convening Leaders, which took place 7-10 January at Music City Center in Nashville, TN, welcomed 4,457 participants from 45 countries – a year-over-year increase of 7% - setting a new attendance record for the annual event.
Of the total attendance, 54% were Business Events Strategists - PCMA members and non-members drawn from the association and corporate sectors (80% and 20% respectively) - and 43% industry suppliers. As well as this, 65% of the total attendance was made up by PCMA members coming together to enjoy four days filled with educational sessions, industry insight and networking opportunities.
On top of the attendance in Nashville, 1,604 participants followed Convening Leaders LIVE online and, in collaboration with SACEOS, an additional 109 meeting professionals in the APAC region tuned in to a delayed rebroadcast of content on 9 January, online or at the Singapore PSB Academy City Campus and Suntec watch parties.
Commenting at the close of 2018 Convening Leaders, Sherrif Karamat, new PCMA President and CEO, said: “We were so pleased with this year’s attendance and event engagement. We endeavoured to ensure innovation and technology presented at the event exceed expectations; it was affirming to see first-hand the response to the new features we introduced and world-renowned speakers that commanded our stage. In 2018, we are looking forward to building on PCMA’s legacy to inspire and support the business events industry globally.”
Each year, the Convening Leaders Content Committee (CLCC) focuses on collaborating with the PCMA education team to create inspiring content that delivers on the organisation’s statement of purpose to educate, inspire and listen, creating meaningful experiences where passion, purpose and commerce come together. This year’s event was created under the central theme of “Amplifying Engagement”, specifically chosen for its Nashville (Music City Center) location.
Keynote speaker Gen. Stanley McChrystal - visionary, former United States Army general and veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan – inspired attendees to think outside the box when applying leadership in their business. During the Closing Main Stage, social innovator and philanthropist Bill Strickland delivered an emotional presentation on ethical leadership to help reshape the business of social change.
Nick Ross, veteran journalist and former BBC broadcaster, joined Convening Leaders as master facilitator. In his role, new for this year’s event, Nick applied his industry perspective to the programme, and helped participants to apply the content presented to their day-to-day work.
Also new for this year was the Future of Face2Face, featuring industry experts presenting sessions such as Changing Mindset, Evolving Business Environment and Changing Brand Strategies. In this space, participants experienced the latest technology in the industry, including The Mix – powered by Freeman – 65-foot-by-18-foot wall of HD screens, catering to the many ways different people consume media and information, as attendees plugged into different conference sessions, watch breaking news or access industry-led content in privacy, using headsets.
The returning PCMA’s Business School brought more educational content for participants on topics ranging from marketing for strategic growth, financial acumen, change management and design thinking. Wednesday\'s programme featured speaker Natalie Nixon, University of Penn lecturer and Design Strategist. Fittingly for Nashville, Natalie explored how organisations can use music as a catalyst for innovation.
At the Convening Leaders Closing Night Celebration held at Nashville’s iconic Musicians’ Hall of Fame, participants met legend Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members Steve Cropper, Duane Eddy and Billy Cox, who played bass for the legendary Jimmy Hendrix. The evening concluded with an unforgettable music performance by GRAMMY award-winning artists, Peter Frampton and Little Big Town.
Attendees were able to help hundreds of classrooms across the Metropolitan Nashville Public School District (MNPS), who received school supplies during this year’s PCMA Giving Good’s Hospitality Helping Hands (HHH) event. The event supported non-profit PENCIL’s LP Pencil Box project, which donates school supplies to teachers and students in need across the area. In addition to filling over 600 backpacks with $70,000 USD worth of school supplies, $13,000 USD was donated to the charity.
Further $25,000 USD was donated to local charity W.O. Smith School of Music, raised during the PCMA Education Foundation’s Party with a Purpose event by more than 1,600 attendees. Also, with the help of the Foundation, record 104 scholarship recipients were able to attend this year’s Convening Leaders.
As a ‘Goodbye’ to Nashville, the conference concluded with 1,298 attendees participate in an attempt to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ for the Largest Human Image of a Musical Instrument (Guitar). Although the record wasn’t met, participants enjoyed the closing gathering in the Music City’s Walk of Fame Park.
Next year’s PCMA Convening Leaders will take place in Pittsburgh, PA at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center from 6-9 January 2019.
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