Monday, January 3, 2011

Editors' Pick: 2010 Convene Highlights

As 2011 begins, the editors of Convene are looking over our shoulders to list the highlights of our 2010 coverage. You'll notice that many of the stories are the same ones now popping up on top 10 story lists everywhere, helping make the point: meetings are in the middle of everything.

1. When the Cumberland River overflowed its banks in early May, it was the worst natural disaster in Nashville’s history. But it would have been a lot worse for meeting attendees and other guests staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort had it not been for the decisive actions taken by hotel managers, who evacuated 1,500 guests just hours before the hotel was inundated with water. Editor in chief Michelle Russell had the story in the December issue.

2. Last spring, when Iceland’s Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano erupted, it grounded planes in Europe and snarled meetings thousands of miles away. Executive Editor Christopher Durso reported how planners coped with the disruption in the June issue, and revisited the topic in September, with a story about how the American Association for Cancer Research managed to offer 33 presentations remotely, all on the fly.

While the volcano seemed to catch most of the world by surprise, I talked to one security specialist who saw it coming — and made sure his meeting clients had a back-up plan in place ("Luck Favors the Prepared").

3. After the tragic April explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the efforts to stop leaking oil went on — and on. At the height of the crisis, a survey found that 60 percent of hotels along the Gulf Coast had suffered meeting cancellations. Complicating the problem was speculation by the media about oil that potentially was headed to coastal beaches. In the September issue, I wrote about how enterprising coastal CVBs used social media channels to get the word out about conditions at their destinations.

4. When a devastating earthquake hit Haiti Jan. 12, the direct impact to the meetings world was small — impoverished Port-au-Prince is not a leading meetings destination. But what was immediate and powerful was the huge response from the meetings world toward the victims and their families, many of whom work in the U.S. hospitality industry. One meeting industry professional, PCMA member Jean Tracy, made such an impression on us, I traveled to Haiti with her for a week to watch her in action. The story appeared in the May issue.

5. One byproduct of the year’s disasters was that it gave Senior Editor Hunter R. Slaton plenty of recent real-world examples for the story that launched the Convene CMP “Certification Made Possible” series, an in-depth look at force majeure. The new series allows planners to earn CEUs toward the CMP designation by reading articles and taking an online test. Other stories in the series in 2010 included crowdsourcing in September, ethics in October, co-locations in November, and meeting innovation in December.

6. When Chris Durso profiled Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos, he gave readers not only an inside look at arguably the most persistent man in America, but an account of the role that meetings played in bringing Madoff to justice: Investigators tracked down key information at cocktail receptions at financial-services industry meetings.

7. There’s a lot of talk about Millennials: who they are, what they want, what their values are. But from the Millennials themselves? Not so much. In the June cover story, Hunter Slaton conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with members of Gen Y to find out what is really on their minds.

8. When we asked eight of the world’s leading convention center architects to tell us their vision of the future, we didn’t expect to hear that it is already under construction. But in their illustrations for “Show Places" in our October issue, we learned that — from the world’s first carbon-neutral center to centers that truly are part of the fabric of the cities in which they stand — the revolution is underway.

9. Yeah, sustainability means green, but it’s more than that. We learned how much more this year in a new series called “Giving Back,” which focuses on corporate social responsibility in the meetings world. Highlights included an account of how a religious meeting planner helped organize a food drive that fed 10,000-plus families for a week and a company that organizes farm-to-table dinners — and puts the table smack in the middle of the farm.

10. 2010 was the year that virtual and hybrid meetings went mainstream and in retrospect, UnTech10, which took place online after ASAE's Tech10 was snowed out, may turn out to have been the watershed moment. Chris Durso had the story in the April issue.

What about you? What did you consider to be the top stories in your corner of the world?

Image by Sally M, licensed under Creative Commons.

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