The Meetings and Events Industry: How I Ran Away and Joined the Circus

April 16, 2015 Don Power

Don Power Image The Meetings and Events Industry: How I Ran Away and Joined the CircusIn support of North American Meetings Industry Day 2015, we asked one of our staff members, Don Power, to relate his experience of how he joined the meetings and events industry. This is what he had to say.

Just over a year ago, I had my first real immersion into the world of meetings and events. I was invited to speak about social media for events professionals at Smart Meetings’ live event in Palm Springs. Getting to experience the warm desert breezes in February was a respite from the cold and snow on Vancouver Island where I live, among other perks of participating in this event.

As fortune would have it, I was invited to come back and speak at Smart Meeting Vail in October that same year. After my presentation, I had a little free time to go out and about and explore Vail village for myself. Right outside my hotel, I literally stumbled upon a small art gallery. With no set itinerary or plans, I stepped inside to take a look.

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Because it was offseason, the place was empty. I struck up a conversation with the curator who was only too glad to have an interested party asking (somewhat) intelligent questions about the art on display. After an exclusive tour of the gallery, I continued my exploration into the village, discovering more jaw-dropping public art, funky coffee shops, and a variety of sights and experiences that you can only get by visiting a destination in-person.

It was then and there that I knew I wanted to be a bigger part of the meeting and events industry. Two months later, I became a full-time employee at Smart Meetings as audience development manager and I’ve participated in two more of our live events since then. As our CEO Marin Bright likes to tell people, “Don ran away and joined the circus.” And oh, what a show it is!

Live events just have a certain gravitas that no amount of electronic alternative can provide. Or as, the Meetings Mean Business (MMB) coalition puts it:

Great things happen when people come together. Face-to-face interaction is the platform where deals are struck, relationships are forged and ideas are generated. That’s what Meetings Mean Business is all about: showing the real power of what business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions collectively do for people, businesses and communities.”

This week we were also fortune to conduct a webinar with Mary MacGregor, a past president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE). Coinciding with SITE’s Global Education Week, it was great to hear Mary talk about how travel incentive programs are so much more effective in motivating employees than monetary rewards.

In our industry, I now know firsthand why we are so fortunate to have travel as part of our job description. Particularly when you’re traveling for meetings and events, it’s not only at the education sessions where you expand your horizons. It also comes from the excitement of new possibilities when you’re on your way to your next event. It’s in the airports, highways and hotels of destinations, familiar and foreign, where you can always find something new to catch your attention. It’s meeting up with friends or colleagues you haven’t seen for a while and catching up on changes in their professional and personal lives.

And of course, going to in-person events allows us to appreciate anew the wonderful feeling of returning back home to the people and circumstances we know so well. Sometimes it really is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

So, as we celebrate NAMID 2015, let’s reflect upon the many benefits of our chosen career.  Better still, why not take this opportunity to introduce this field to someone new, and provide any assistance and connections you can to help them become part of our world.

Who knows, one day they just might be writing a blog post about you and the wonderful industry you’re in!

Be sure to check out one of Smart Meetings Live Events, coming soon to a destination near you!

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