by Tracey Smith, CMP, CMM
• New approach to education
Our annual conference, SPINCon, brings 200 or more of our members together to celebrate what we do and to learn new things. SPIN: Senior Planners Industry Network is well known for trying different tactics, whether it’s networking name badges, a virtual hosted buyer program before the conference, or what is now our annual Pajama Bingo after-party with totally goofy prizes.
Like many associations, we’ve done the standard call for speakers, although we tend to stick with our own members in many cases. This method is okay, but the speakers are the ones telling us what we need in education, not the members. So, when an article appeared in another industry magazine this spring, we took note and changed how we curate our conference education.
The key to the success of our conference is that we cover the entire person, not just the meeting planner. Our tracks are Brain, Body, Being, and Business, which give us skills and training we can use in our own conferences and time to take care of the person who does the planning. About half of the suggestions concerned the Business world and then the rest divided between the other tracks.
Once we compiled the list of session suggestions, eliminating any duplication, we asked our members to vote on the topics. The one that came out on top had to do with boosting energy levels at meetings, so our members must be feeling weary!
Some of the sessions “voted in” were submitted by specific speakers and we contacted them directly to confirm their participation. The remaining topics went out to members so they could apply to present or suggest a presenter.
The outcome is that we have an impressive line-up of sessions which will appeal to everyone who attends. Whether a small business owner or an employee of a corporation or association, the Business track has sessions to fortify the planner’s skills and value. The Brain track has everything from assessing risk management to managing one’s overflowing email inbox. The Being track includes a three-hour session that teaches us how to connect with nature to find our inner power. The Body track has ways to add movement at our meetings as well as how to meditate and manage the stress of our work.
Registration is open now (www.SPIN.MemberClicks.net/SPINCon), and we expect the excitement of the process so far to carry over there.
Smith first joined SPIN as the VP of Programs in 2010 and helped plan the first three conferences. After a three-year stint as a contractor for American Express Global Business Travel, Smith again joined SPIN as the Executive Director at the start of 2018.
Smith lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and a couple of 4-legged office mates.