IACC Stays Ahead Though the opening of the 18th annual conference of the International Association of Conference Centers was centered around a prehistoric theme, there are few organizations more ahead of the technology curve.
The buzz at the mid-April conference, which drew 423 attendees to the Resort at Squaw Creek in Olympic Valley, Calif., was all about IACC's enhanced Web site, www.iacconline.com, which lets planners directly submit requests for proposals to IACC members; in the past year, there have been 946 RFPs generated at the site. A new "Planners Only" feature lets meeting organizers archive their RFPs and sign up for customized news from conference centers that fit their meeting specifications. The site also has a virtual area with links to preferred vendors.
The April meeting also showcased a fairly new technology called OptionFinder, a wireless keypad that let attendees vote on topics, then immediately see the results projected on a screen in the front of the room.
IACC also used a meeting "technology" known as the "open space meeting," a free-form concept where session leaders choose their own discussion topics.
Interestingly, with all the discussion about the effect of technology on meetings, when attendees were polled about their main reason for attending the IACC conference, 58 percent said they came for the networking.
Live: It's Papa John What's the best way for a CEO to reach 600 team members and franchisees in 12 different locations around the country? For Papa John's International Founder and CEO John Schnatter, it was to build his own TV network for a day.
Papa John's used an interactive satellite broadcast from the company's headquarters in Louisville, Ky. to kick off its 1999 marketing plan, and to update its team on new marketing and customer-retention programs.
Previously, Schnatter, President and Vice Chairman Blaine Hurst, and COO Wade Oney would travel to each corporate market and some franchise markets for live presentations. The company worked with National Video Communications Network to arrange the broadcast. Says Chris Sternberg, spoksesperson for the restaurant chain: "We wanted to continue to differentiate Papa John's from the competition by keeping our team members focused on people, product, and service. We also used the telecast as an opportunity to gear up for our upcoming 14th anniversary promotion and to share updates on issues raised during previous market visits."
SAS INSTITUTE We all know that happy, healthy, well-informed employees make productive team members. At Cary, N.C.-based SAS Institute Inc. (the world's largest privately held software company, with 1998 revenue of $871 million), they live that philosophy.
Here, every day is casual dress, there's a piano playing in the cafeteria, and bags of M&Ms are distributed to each floor on Wednesdays. The 2,700 employees at headquarters have the chance to learn life skills in classes organized by Dianne Fuqua, the work life manager. Fuqua sets up lunchtime sessions on topics ranging from elder care to infant care. A 10-week course called "Struggle to Juggle" teaches staff and spouses how to balance work and family. A wellness committee, which consists of representatives from the on-site health and recreation centers, also offers classes.
"They want to teach us how to be happy," Fuqua says of SAS executives. "They are helping us to be more productive. It feels good to know they care."
Nervous to Natural in Seven steps Making your first company video? Mark Meder, president of Dallas-based On-Camera Training, has worked with lots of execs who hate to appear on camera, and says, "Those who take a little extra time and accept some direction end up looking like old pros." His tips:
1. Allow at least half an hour for the video shoot. Plan on about an hour for every three minutes of scripted material.
2. Read your script before the shoot. Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised . . .
3. Give the crew time to make you look good.
4. Use a TelePrompTer. It's crucial if you have more than three lines. Allow plenty of time to rehearse with it especially if you've never worked with one before.
5. Use a professional make-up artist. Even the guys on "Sportscenter" wear makeup.
6. Watch and listen to a replay of at least a portion of your tape before you leave. You might find that what you thought was an animated delivery was actually pretty dry. Make adjustments and try it again.
7. Relax. If you blow a line, keep trying until you get it right.