It's such a cliche in the meetings business, yet still true, that most of the best learning takes place outside the general sessions and breakouts. You know, the hallway track, where people meet and spark up some amazing conversations. Internet guru Dave Taylor writes about this very phenomenon, and even encourages people to stay in the headquarters hotel to maximize the experience.
So, planners, what do you do to encourage this informal networking? We all know how important it is, yet it so seldom seems to be an actually planned part of the event (no, receptions don't count. Especially those with live music and other entertainment. Those are for business-card exchanges, not real conversations, IMHO).