Behind the Scenes By Michelle Russell
FirstTimeOut of theGate
In November, we hosted our first Convene Forum, a hosted-buyer event with about 50 participants, at Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun. It was the first time our editorial team had the chance to get our hands in the mix at an educational event, and it was exciting.
verything we write about in these pages has to do in some way withplanning meetings, but,
obviously, as writers and editors, we don’t actually take part in that process ourselves. So what an opportunity it was for us—collaborating withour col- leagues on PCMA’s education and meet- ings teams—to help put together the
inaugural Convene Forum, Nov. 13–16. We brainstormed with them about creating sessions that built upon stories and themes we cover in Convene.We helped determine the session formats, using what we’ve learned from interviewing experts inside and out- side of this industry, so we could best engage participants. And then, we got to be a part of it as it unfolded. One-hundred per-
cent of the respondents to a post–Convene Forumsurvey said they were satisfied with the way the event turned out—andwe’re enor- mously proud of our first effort. I’ve askedmy teamto use this space to share their impressions of the two-and-a-half dayswe spent together in suchgreat company and in such a breathtaking setting.
WHATIMOSTLIKEDABOUTOURFIRST Convene Forum—besides the ego boost of hav- ing a smart,ambitiousmeeting built around our magazine—was enjoying the power that a beautiful destination has to foster creativity and engagement.MuchofLeBlanc Spa Resort is open to the air; even the meeting roomwhere we hadmost of the Forum’s educational program- ming had floor-to-ceiling glass doors that opened onto a patio that offered views of Le Blanc’s fine- grained beach and the shimmering Caribbean Sea beyond. For some of our breakout discus- sions, attendees took it upon themselves to relo- cate to that patio,where they relaxed under the brilliant blue sky and participated in quite seri- ous discussions about socialmedia, sponsorship opportunities, adult learning, and other industry topics. When our hosted
buyerswere busywith their supplier appoint- ments,weConvene edi- tors took tomeeting outside, on the deep, shaded veranda over- lookingLeBlanc’s pool. And the beach. And the Caribbean. Far from distracting us, the lovely, tranquil setting opened us up;we unwound and
settled in, and did a lot of talking and planning. Or that’s how I felt, anyway—content, respon- sive, enjoying the power of face-to-facemagni- fied through the lens of sensory fulfillment. —Christopher Durso
FORME,THEBESTPARTOFTHECONVENE Forum—alongwith seeing the sun rise over theCaribbean everymorning—was the oppor- tunity tomeet face-to-facewith people I had
MORNING BREAK: Natural beauty surrounded Convene Forum attendees, who met at the Le Blanc Resort in Cancun. The early- morning view from the terrace, above.
CASUAL MONDAY: Convene’s editors took advantage of the Forum’s relax- ing atmosphere; we hauled our laptops outside. Clockwise from top left— Senior Editor Barbara Palmer (who took these photos with her iPad), Executive Editor Christopher Durso, Editor in Chief Michelle Russell, and Senior Editor Hunter R. Slaton.
pcma convene January 2012
MICHELLE RUSSELL PHOTOGRAPHED BY DENNIS CHALKIN