Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events Media http://grassshackroad.com/
Mike McAllen interviews Vicki Hawarden? Vice President of Knowledge Management with Meeting Professionals International about the upcoming World Education Congress in Salt Lake City Utah
They discuss the –
-Exciting new initiatives/programs at #WEC09
-Ben Stein will be speaking (why he was chosen, how he has helped the industry, etc
-What MPI is doing to help members and the industry as a whole during this economic shift
-How attendees will communicate the ROI to their bosses upon return of the event.
She also breaks the news to Mike about:
MPI Launches Virtual Access Pass for
2009 World Education Congress
In her role, Hawarden assumes overall responsibility for the development and dissemination of the global organization’s educational content, as well as creation and management of member event experiences. She will lead a growing team of more than 10 professionals.??“Vicki’s established track record in creating rich educational and marketplace experiences will ensure she makes an immediate contribution to the success of our 22,000 members,” said Bruce MacMillan, president and CEO of MPI. “She is a proven leader and will build on MPI’s commitment to create valuable connections that lead to provocative ideas and a boundless marketplace for our members.”
Hawarden has more than 15 years experience managing conventions and trade shows. She joins MPI from the National Recreation and Park Association in Ashburn, Va., where she served as director of education and conferences for two years.
For more information, visit www.mpiweb.org.
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Mike McAllen: Thank you for tuning in to the Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen with Grass Shack Events and Media and today, we have Vicki Hawarden, VP of Knowledge at Meeting Professionals International. Hi Vicki, thank you for talking with me today.
Vicki Hawarden: Hi, Mike. Thanks for inviting me.
Mike McAllen: We had a little technical difficulties on my end trying to get together with you and I apologize.
Vicki Hawarden: No problem.
Mike McAllen: So, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at MPI?
Vicki Hawarden: Sure. My name is Vicki Hawarden and I oversee our Knowledge team here at MPI which consists of our team that handles all of our content whether live or digital, our magazine as well as our event management team. My background includes a post track 15 years of management of exactly these types of programs at associations in the US.
Mike McAllen: Wow, wow. So, go through that again with me. Sorry, I was fiddling with my pen trying to meet them. I was trying to write it down quickly but four of them didn’t work so if the magazine – tell me again.
Vicki Hawarden: I oversee the magazine, which again, we just see as another vehicle for presenting our content and our knowledge, that’s why it’s a part of my team. I oversee the events team who handles all the logistics for all of our live events and then content team which is the group that really handles education of speakers for our live as well as our digital programs both in the US as well as we have an office in Europe that handles Europe, Middle East, Africa and Singapore.
Mike McAllen: Wow. That is a lot.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes.
Mike McAllen: It’s a lot of stuff and I really like the magazine a lot.
Vicki Hawarden: Oh, thank you.
Mike McAllen: I really like it and there’s a lot of these types of magazines around but that one is just consistently very, very interesting.
Vicki Hawarden: That’s very nice to hear.
Mike McAllen: So, what’s new this year at MPI’s WEC? What do we look forward to?
Vicki Hawarden: Well, we have a lot of new things but I’ll kind of focus on some of the items I think that are most appropriate based on what’s going on today. We really recognized with the upheaval, the economic changes, the perception issues that the people are really looking for immediate value. We have a great program we’re bringing called the Four Elements of Strategic Value. That will be a half day workshop that we’re offering at the program. Typically, this is a very high end program that you might come to and pay a significant registration fee but it’s really part of the conference, holding out on Monday.
Also, we’re very excited that we have insider’s exchange track. This is something that more from our supplier perspective who are full of a lot of information that they can share not only with their customers but attendees. So for instance, you might go to learn about registration that’s from a registration company and these programs have been embedded to ensure that they really are focus on value to the attendee and are not a sales piece in anyway but it really is just picking advantage of their expertise.
We also have something that is very new and very appropriate called the Resource Exchange Center. This is an area that will be opened throughout the conference that people can go to, to get resume and career advice so we’ll have resume and career experts in this room. We’ll have some legal advisers there so if you have questions about the TARP regulations and how they affect you, you can get one-on-one consultation there.
Mike McAllen: Wow.
Vicki Hawarden: And we’ll have – yes, it’s going to be I think a very cool enhancement for people that it’s great to sit in a session and hear from an expert but sometimes you just really need customized personal help with either your career or your job. So, this is an area that we’ll have experts that are in there throughout the conference, many of these like our power keynote speakers and our really big name experts. You can go in a small group environment and ask them questions and the schedules will be posted. And it’s really just a whole lot of other great information that’s going to be in this room throughout the course of the conference.
Mike McAllen: Okay, very cool. Yes, I like the way that you use like that Pathable where you can basically talk to anybody that you want to.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes. Pathable is not brand new. We’ve done that now for at least one meeting but it is really getting some traction where people can just kind of have chats with attendees whether it’s who’s going to get together for a run or. “I’ve got a problem. Can you help me solve it?” And we’re seeing a lot of people take advantage of that. There is…
Mike McAllen: So cool too that with this Resource Exchange Center too. I mean, there’s just so many avenues it seems.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes, and in that Resource Exchange Center, we’ll have a social media station so if you want to go in there to post some notes or if you want to learn more about social media and play around with it, that will be in this resource center as well.
Mike McAllen: Very, very cool.
Vicki Hawarden: I do have one last thing that’s new. We haven’t even announced it yet. We’re going to announce it tomorrow. I’m not sure when this is airing but I think we’ll have it out…
Mike McAllen: Oh, it’s new. I’ll put it out right after this.
Vicki Hawarden: Excellent. That will get me in a lot of trouble than our monthly trial. Not quite ready.
Mike McAllen: Okay. I’ll hold on to this.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes, that will be great. Just a little bit, just a wee bit, not long. But we have obviously been really listening to our members in our community who are really struggling right now with the time and the money involved in attending a conference and I don’t know if you’re aware but I made a personal offer to anybody that couldn’t attend because of money to call me and we would work with them on the registration fee, which has been great. The response was good. The people who are calling have been long-term committed members who maybe are laid off or their company just cut way back. And so, I’ve been able to help quite a few people come to the conference that way.
But there are others who time is big of an issue as well as of course, the travel cost, et cetera and we are going to launch a virtual access pass and that is where people can get access to our opening general session on – they can watch it live or they can watch – it will be recorded and posted as well as 14 of our education sessions, which – well, if you add it up, the number of sessions you can go to if it’s live and it’s really of the same value in terms of the quality of education. But of course, you’re missing the networking and a lot of face-to-face but if content is what you very much need, you’ll be able to get a lot of video sessions live and recorded after the fact. We’ll have some highlight video of the conference and 80% of our sessions are going to be audio-recorded. And then there’s also all the handouts that you’ll get, et cetera. So, that’s something we’re offering to anybody who’s registered but also, anybody who can’t attend, we’ll be offering that as a separate standalone opportunity for them.
Mike McAllen: Wow, that’s great. That’s also great for people who are just new too and just want to check it out and see what it’s all about.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes.
Mike McAllen: That’s awesome.
Vicki Hawarden: So, it gives you a nice peek on a much lower price point but certainly, you can be on your office and do it on your own time, do it from your home, whatever works for you and I think there’s lot of people out there who are really hungry for information but just can’t make it. And so, we’re trying to reach out to those members.
Mike McAllen: It’s a great idea, great, great. So, I see that Ben Stein is the keynote speaker. I think that’s an interesting choice. How did you end up picking him?
Vicki Hawarden: Yes. So, we actually have three that really are featured at the opening general session and Ben is certainly, he’s just on top of ticket. Ben was just very impressive and that as we went through this turmoil and we had a lot of political attacks and even public perception issues, he just kind of came out of nowhere and made a statement, wrote a column that was in I believe in New York Times where he spoke very passionately, eloquently and intelligently about the power of meetings and how they are economic engines and how they are drivers of business results. So, it really just came from that that we thought, “Wow. Here’s somebody who gets it.” We hadn’t primed him or pumped him to say any of that. He is just really on his own, came forward and kind of made that statement. So, we think it’s going to be really exciting to have him there so that he can expand on what he thinks about the power of meetings as well as little bit of the story behind what prompted him to write the article and the results.
We think him and along with a lot of other efforts that we’re going on at the time both from MPI and other industry organizations started that just really cut out all that [indiscernible] [0:08:34] and start to cause people to back off and think about what they were doing when they were criticizing meetings that was hurting the economy, it was hurting all kinds of employment sectors. And so, he was part of that. It will be interesting to hear his story.
Mike McAllen: Yes. I’ve worked with him before.
Vicki Hawarden: Oh, cool.
Mike McAllen: Yes, he’s a great guy, great guy. I’ve spent a couple of days with him.
Vicki Hawarden: He’s obviously a funny guy, interesting guy with a very different diverse background and yes, I think he already has…
Mike McAllen: Yes, smart guy and I did read that article a while back and it was really fantastic to kind of – because I know how we’re all getting that from clients with the perception and the perception should be different than it is.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes, we’ve seen it really die down but certainly, it’s not I think eradicated entirely and we have work to do and a lot of that will be around kind of practicing what we preach, which is we’ve said about the power of meetings, we’ve said this about the whole thing with business results and many of us practice that everyday but I think some of us, we need help with what are the tools we need to deliver that, what are the processes, or what is strategic meeting management about? And all of that content will be a heavy focus at WEC.
Mike McAllen: Oh, that’s great because it’s nice to have that all in your back pocket.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes. If you are already there, we probably got other experts that can teach you things that you didn’t know yet and if you haven’t started, it’s time to start.
Mike McAllen: Yes, yes, yes. So, who were the other?
Vicki Hawarden: We are actually also having Ken Schmidt – oh no, I’m sorry that’s our power keynote. Let me back track. We have Gary Loveman, he’s very interesting and he’s a former Harvard professor, a PhD of Economics from MIT but he’s also the COO of Harrah’s but we’re really bringing him for that heavy business background and so, he can take what Ben says and put some more context around it and talk and about how this really applies in our world today, what changes we need to be making today.
Mike McAllen: Very cool.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes, and he’s just a powerful, incredibly smart man. And the last one that we’re bringing on is Betsy Myers. She’s kind of the case study if you will after we’ve heard of all this information about the power of meetings, about talking the language of business. She took meetings – used meetings in the Obama campaigns just to make huge and powerful difference so she’s going to tell us a little bit about her experience in working on as part of that campaign and how she used meetings to get Obama elected.
Mike McAllen: Wow, very, very cool.
Vicki Hawarden: Yes.
Mike McAllen: So, along the lines with the Resource Exchange Center, how else are you – is MPI trying to help MPI members during these crazy challenging times?
Vicki Hawarden: Yes. Well again, really it is focused a lot on the content and you’d have to go to the website to look at all the many sessions on strategic meeting management. We have a whole track called Thriving in a Complex World and it’s whole focus is around challenging times, crazy economics, people getting laid off, what do you do, what any skills you need, how do you talk to your CEO about the value of meetings and the business you bring to the table. So, there’s an entire track that really is just about these unique and challenging times but certainly again, all the content is focused on how we elevate our game, how we become better business partners, better business people.
Mike McAllen: Very cool, very cool. And also, how – I guess you kind of talk a little bit about that already but how do attendees communicate the importance of attending the WEC to their bosses? What – do you have a little…?
Vicki Hawarden: Yes, we knew. We provide a helpful tool for them, which is an ROI notebook, return on investment notebook and it just makes it easy for them as they go through the course of the conference. We, all of us have to really take responsibility for showing the value of attending a meeting of this nature. So, this is just a tool to help them follow along and say, each session here and what are the big ideas you get, certainly following up after the conference and even three months later and six months later and being able to tell you back and say, “Not only what great ideas that I have but how much time did these ideas saved, how much money did I saved? Did I generate more revenue? Did I make our brand better?”
So, we provide sort of a notebook and the tracking mechanism and of course, the attendee who’s engaged in listening and writing these ideas and thoughts down, they will have something to go back and certainly, we’d recommend everybody write a couple of page memo when they return as to what their experience was, what they learned, what they’re going to implement based on what they learned but continue to follow up on that over the course of the next few months.
Mike McAllen: Fantastic. It sounds really great. It’s a great idea.
Vicki Hawarden: Excellent. Yes, we’re supposed to be helpful.
Mike McAllen: So, I guess the last thing we’ll have to see is I guess I’ll see you out there in Salt Lake at the WEC.
Vicki Hawarden: See you at Salt Lake and right at the base of the beautiful mountain.
Mike McAllen: Thank you so much Vicki for talking with me.
Vicki Hawarden: You’re welcome, Mike.
Mike McAllen: And maybe we can get together and talk again, chat again.
Vicki Hawarden: That would be excellent and I would love to do that, yes.
Mike McAllen: Okay, great. All right, thanks so much.
Vicki Hawarden: Thanks. Take care.
Mike McAllen: Bye.
Vicki Hawarden: Bye.
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