I am excited to share my experience attending a PYM LIVE event for the first time. I admit to being skeptical about the event at first. How would this be different from another network meeting and/or “lunch and learn” provided by a local organization? First off, it was the communication early on after I registered for the event. I received a welcome email with instructions on how to get the most out of my time while at the event. For example, they asked all the attendees to download a mobile app called TOPI to begin making connections with other attendees and to get a preview of the exhibitors. Clearly, PYM LIVE understood that we (meeting planners) have a lot on our plate and need to maximize everything we do. The second noticeable difference was the phone call to confirm my attendance and to let me know how excited they were to be my hosts. It was a nice touch.
On the day of the event, I arrived at Topgolf Midtown. This is the second location they’ve opened in the Atlanta market and I was interested in seeing the venue. Upon checking in and taking my seat in Topgolf’s Signature Room, the host and speaker for PYM LIVE, Kristi Casey Sanders, came to the front of the room.
Kristi lit up the room. It was like watching lightning in a bottle. Her exuberance and passion to educate and provide the best tools to meeting planners was evident. She led a TED Talk-style presentation, just 15 minutes, focusing on “Top Event Trends” which was useful and kept the audience and myself engaged in the conversation. She also encouraged everyone to connect on TOPI and share our experience through social media such as Twitter. She reinforced this idea even further by awarding door prizes to those who were the first to post on the chat board or on Twitter.
The next activity was speed networking. This was a really creative idea to get meaningful exchange between meeting planners and vendors/suppliers. The process went like this: Meeting planners were seated at numbered tables. During check-in, each supplier received a number. This number indicated which table they started at. At the beginning of the session, once everyone was settled, the meeting planners and vendors had three minutes to make introductions and chat about any of their potential needs. At the end of the round, vendors stood up and moved to the next table in sequential order. The process repeated until all the vendors met with each and every meeting planner. What I found useful was that I got to meet every vendor and if they offered a service that I needed I made a note to follow up with them. However, if there was a vendor that didn’t serve any of my short-term needs, I had their contact information for future reference but didn’t feel the need to extend the conversation just to be polite. It was efficient, effective and fun. I feel that everyone benefited and it kept the energy up in the room.
The final activity was a presentation by Jordan McArthur, content marketing manager for Guidebook, Inc., titled “Lessons from an Actual Marketing Guy.” His presentation was relevant and he addressed the many fears that meeting planners have about using technology for events. More importantly, he gave ideas and solutions to help address those challenges. It was a very good presentation and I would recommend anyone to attend if given the opportunity.
Topgolf was a very gracious host and an impressive venue. In fact, after my visit, I’ve decided to host a summer social at the facility for 250 guests (one-third of its capacity). If there’s a Topgolf location in your city, check it out as a team building or fun corporate event space.
PYM LIVE is like an educational Antiques Roadshow for meeting planners—it’s a traveling showcase. Based on my first experience with PYM LIVE, don’t hesitate to sign up when PYM LIVE comes to a city near you—you won’t regret it. Keep on planning!
Chris Yueh is programs coordinator for the Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.