Several new initiatives were kicked off at the 48th annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association, held mid-January in Indianapolis. The meeting drew about 2,500 registrants — about the same as last year's annual meeting, which was held in Anaheim, Calif.
The association announced that the National Speakers Association will develop a roster of professional speakers for each PCMA chapter and that the two organizations will link their Web sites. The goal is to raise the level of education and professionalism of PCMA programs and to provide additional opportunities for NSA speakers, explained Mark Sanborn, NSA president. Also new: Charity Direct, a San Diego-based charitable organization for the convention industry, will be merged into PCMA's Network for the Needy. Network for the Needy has raised more than $1 million for charities since its inception 10 years ago.
The Executive Edge educational program also debuted, offering senior-level planners and executives a series of intensive roundtable discussions about key industry issues. The program, which was well-attended, was developed to fill a void for top management officials in the meetings industry and is intended to encourage high-level strategic thinking, according to David Kushner, PCMA's CEO. He said the new program was a “home run.”
Karen Hughes, an advisor to President George W. Bush, gave the keynote address, which was about balancing life and work. She was well-received by the audience. Prior to the meeting, some attendees expressed concern about the appropriateness of Hughes as a speaker in an election year, saying that she was so closely associated with the Bush administration that it was too political to give her the podium.
“We picked Karen Hughes because she speaks on a topic of interest to our members — how to balance work and life,” Kushner said. Because her job is politics, it's impossible to talk about balance without talking about her job, he said. PCMA has had speakers from the political world in the past, Kushner added, including Bob Dole and George Stephanopoulos.
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson officially welcomed the delegation to his city on Sunday with an announcement that the Indiana Convention Center — which includes more than 400,000 square feet of exhibit space — will expand, pending the results of a feasibility study. Details on the cost, size and location were not available, but city officials expect to make a formal announcement sometime in 2004.