With its strongest attendance in 10 years, the 37th edition of the IACC Americas Connect conference took place at Chubb Hotel & Conference Center and The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, 16-18 April.
Overall attendance at the event was 293.
Sean Anderson, IACC Americas president, commented: “We saw record attendance at this years’ annual Connect conference, a 33% rise on last year.”
The three-day conference, hosted by former White House director of events Laura Schwartz, included educational sessions, panel discussions – in the form of campfires, workshops, culinary tours and tastings – as well as the annual Global Copper Skillet cooking competition. Each day keynote speakers and industry leaders held sessions on topics such as innovation, leadership, IACC Meeting Room of the Future™ findings, food and beverage, social media, evolving technology and expanding networking circles globally.
“This growth also illustrates the rising stock value of IACC across the meetings industry,” added Anderson.
Kristina Wiley, meeting planner at Sodexo Conferencing Alexandria, VA, who attended the Mystery Culinary Tour hosted by Brian Freedman on Day Two said: “To sum up the conference in just a few words, I’d have to say – innovation is key. I feel that the educational sessions have given me the tools to help advise clients when they’re planning their event”.
During Day Two of the conference the Global Copper Skillet competition took place at the Franklin Institute, where the regional chapter finalists competed for the ultimate accolade, the winners of which were Brian Wagner from Chauncey Hotel & Conference Center, United States and Leanna Higgs from Wyboston Lakes, United Kingdom. Wyboston’s website can be found here.
Lina Merchant, director of sales at Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, Dolce Hotels and Resorts, noted: “Food and hospitality is one of the most important elements of any conference and event.” Operations director James Russ from CCT Venues, London, UK described the Copper Skillet competition as an opportunity for chefs and venues that take part.
The conference attracted first time attendees from both IACC certified venues and meetings planners. First time attendee Kim Ragan an events manager at the University of Delaware, DE said: “Working in academia, similar educational venues are very far apart, so it’s great for the community to get together at a single event.
“It’s nice to get together and discuss our successes and challenges and help one another find some solutions. This is my first of many IACC conferences,” added Ragan.
Geoff Woliner, CPCM founder and CEO of Winning Wit said: “I’ve met some outstanding people and venues at the IACC conference.”
On the final day of the conference, Mike Van Der Vijver of MindMeeting facilitated the closing session the ‘Solutions Room’ where delegates teamed up to support one another in finding the solutions to individual challenges, enabling both venue and planners to provide helpful advice for individuals to take away with them.
IACC’s next annual European conference ‘Knowledge Festival’ will be taking place in Lisbon, 5-7 October 2018.
Photos: Susan Beard