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Does your event need some @kred?

March 20, 2013

Influence and Outreach

In December, I had the honour of speaking about Gamification at the Next Generation Meetings Conference in Stockholm. While there, I was introduced to the Kred leaderboard for events and saw first hand how it encouraged interaction and social media engagement. The Kred leaderboard was projected on the wall of the event and it provided real time information about who has the most influence, as well as who is the most generous on social media.

What I like about the Kred Leaderboard for Meetings

  1. Encourages social media interaction: using gamification best practices, including real time feedback and rankings, Kred motivates participants to interact.
  2. Amplifies the reach of your event: by encouraging participants to be more active on social media, they are able to engage their networks both inside and outside of your event community.
  3. Encourages pro-social behaviour: since Kred measures not only influence but also outreach, it rewards participants for recognizing others and engaging in dialogue – all things that we want in building a stronger event community.

I’m grateful to Kred’s CEO, Andrew Grill, for answering a few questions about Kred and how to set one up for your event.

My Interview with Andrew Grill, CEO of Kred

Q1. What is the difference between influence & outreach? 

Kred Influence is the measure of what others do because of you on social media. Your Influence score increases when someone takes an action because of your content on Twitter related to the event hashtag. On a Kred event leaderboard, those with the highest influence score are the ones being mentioned most at the conference, and generally it is the current speaker on stage who scores the highest for influence. Kred Outreach is the measure of your generosity. Outreach increases when you retweet, @reply a person. On the Kred event leaderboard, those being generous and mentioning other delegates and speakers by @name will rank higher on the board.

Q2. What is the leaderboard and how is it used for events? 

The Kred events leaderboard provides a real-time view of who has influence, and who is being generous at the conference. The leaderboard is reset at midnight each day, and to appear on the board, you must mention the event hashtag and at least one other @name.  Points are then awarded to the mentioner and the person who mentions based on the Kred scoring rules.  The leaderboard refreshes every 30 seconds so delegates can see not only who is at the conference and talking about it, but who they should connect with because they are driving real interest and action at the event.  A live example of a Kred leaderboard can be found at

Q3. How do meeting planners create a leaderboard?  

At the moment the quickest way is to contact Kred and we can set up the leaderboard – it is a paid service.  In the future we will provide as self-service tool allowing event planners to create, modify and curate any leaderboard they like themselves.  The elements that can be changed are the title, logo, and color scheme.  In addition, specific @names can be withheld from appearing on the board in real time.

Q4. What are the benefits of the leaderboard for events? 

The feedback from these event leaderboards has been amazing.  People love seeing their names up “in lights” on the big screen, and at every one of the 100+ events we have run with the leaderboard, there has been a very healthy competition between delegates to get to the top of the leaderboard – gamifying the experience.  In some instance, iPads and hotel stays have been awarded to the people at the top of the list at the end of each day by the event organisers and their sponsors. The second benefit to an event planner is that it extends the reach of the event beyond a physical location.  Because delegates must use the event hashtag in a public tweet to appear on the leaderboard, this means that literally thousands of other people not at the event read tweets tagged with the #conference name and start to “tune in” to what is being said, and contribute virtually.  This means that the leaderboard drives many more organic mentions of the conference by delegates on twitter – at no incremental cost.The leaderboard has also become an amazing delegate discovery tool. Many people have said that they only knew a particular person was at the event because they saw their name on the leaderboard, and decided to seek them out and renew or create new relationships at the conference.


How much water can a conference bag hold?

March 14, 2013

We’re moving, which means we’ve been decluttering the house, or at least trying to! As part of the “big clean”, I came across a suitcase full of old conference bags, with all kinds of exhibitor catalogues, flyers, brochures, etc. Perhaps with a hint of procrastination, I decided to calculate the water footprint of one of these bags. Here’s what I came up with:

  • 1 cotton tote bag = 2500 litres
  • 182 pages of paper = 1820 litres
  • Total = 4320 litres (over 1000 gallons!)
  • Estimated event participants = 2500
  • Total water consumption from tote bags and materials = 10,800,000 litres

According to this National Geographic article, the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods, meaning that the bags and papers from this one conference were equivalent to the daily needs of 12,000 people.

World Water Day is coming up on March 22nd and I hope that these tips for reducing the water footprint of your event will come in handy.



My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to… @GlobalEcoGuy

March 10, 2013


Let me start by saying, I’m not an academic. I do however, have a great appreciation for academics, and particularly those that are using social media to help inform and engage the non-academic community. A few months ago, I came across the #ScholarSunday hashtag – started by Dr. Raul Pacheco as a #FollowFriday for academics. I think this is a brilliant way of helping to identify those academics that are transforming the role of academics in society. From a meetings industry perspective, finding engaging academics can add an valuable perspective to your program, regardless of whether or not you’re hosting an academic event.

What I look for in a #ScholarSunday:

  1. Do they challenge my assumptions?
  2. Do they tell great stories, and are they able to back them up with solid research?
  3. Can and do they respond well to criticism about their findings or posts?
  4. Do they actively engage with their friends and followers on social media, or do they only broadcast about themselves?
  5. Is their work accessible to the non-academic?
  6. Do they come across as human?

Why My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy

My first #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy (Dr. Jonathan Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota) for the reasons listed above. His TED talk (see below) and thought provoking articles in Nature and Scientific American focus on a plan to feed the world while sustaining the planet. (FYI – their new publication ensia is my favorite online magazine – great science, stories and visuals.)

In preparation for this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing him about science & social media. A short excerpt from the interview is below:

[View the full transcript of “My Interview with @GlobalEcoGuy” on Storify]

I also put him on the spot for who he likes to follow on social media. His comments on possible generational differences to approaches to social media can be found in the transcript above, and he also provided a few names:

Advice for Eventprofs about Academics as Speakers

I have planned many academic conferences over the years, and I can say that some academics are exceptional presenters and others well, are not. I think that #ScholarSunday has the potential to be a great resource for event professionals because it helps us to identify academics that know how to engage and are respected by their peers. In addition, I strongly recommend finding videos of their presentations, as this helps to get a sense of their presentation style as well. A few tips to share with them before their sessions include:

  • Review expectations about the presentation style that you and your participants need, including interactive and visual elements.
  • Ask them to engage with your event participants using the event hashtag before, during and after the event.
  • If possible, schedule a twitter chat with several speakers and your community members and send the transcript out to promote your event.
  • Provide them with background information about your audience and the audience’s knowledge of the subject matter so that the content can be appropriately tailored.
  • Consider an interview format rather than a standard lecture presentation, this can help make the session more engaging for the audience.


It’s Time for Associations to Transform

March 6, 2013

I’ve been struggling lately with finding relevance for associations. I’m struggling because I love associations, but I question how they will continue with current models. Here’s my problem: I think many associations have forgotten why they exist, and instead, focus on just collecting dues and holding events. I’ve spoken with several association leaders lately that are having a hard time meeting financial goals, delivering value to stakeholders, and achieving their goals. I’ve also spoken with many association members who really question why they pay to be members of an organization and whether or not the fees are worth it. We need a major transformation both in terms of what associations do, and how they are funded.

I think many associations act like cocoons: they’re insular, and keep their value hidden. On the other hand, I’m also starting to see signs of associations evolving to be more like butterflies – and I hope to see more of this. So how do cocoon associations and butterfly associations compare?


Cocoon Associations

Cocoon associations are inward facing: concerned with themselves and their growth. They focus on recruiting members and holding events. They hide their value – and showing it only to those on the inside, and are restrictive about things like sharing content. They are tightly guarded, and put up a barrier that separates them from the world. They are also stuck in one place, not able to leave their spot. This combined with their vulnerability to everything from the economy to their competitors. Cocoon associations don’t sound very promising – but they have a huge potential to emerge transformed.

Butterfly Associations

Butterfly associations on the other hand have an outward focus and they show their value to everyone around them. With their wings outstretched and open they move freely as needed. When faced with a possible threat – they can fly to a safer place. They’re not completely protected from the butterfly nets of the association world, but they have the ability to be nimble. They are also transformed with a new focus on the mission of the association, not simply the management of the association. Butterflies are fascinating, they soar to great heights and they’re loved.

The Transformation Process

Becoming a butterfly association is no easy task and involves consultation and collaboration as well as answering some pretty tough questions. A few questions and tips to get you started:

  1. Start by asking yourself: How is your association relevant? Do you deliver value?
  2. Next, ask yourself if your current practices are the most effective way of achieving your mission. Are you preventing your leadership from focusing on key priorities because they are being consumed by projects that while valuable, or are not the best use of their time and talent? Are there other initiatives that would be more important?
  3. Develop a long-term plan, one with room for flexibility, but that ultimately commits to a transformation.
  4. Develop an alternative funding model that will help ensure your long-term sustainability that is not heavily dependent on member dues.
  5. Gain support for your vision with your board and stakeholders. Keep in mind that when you’re stuck inside the cocoon, it can be difficult to see the beauty that will emerge.


Hybrid events… in case you needed a reason

February 6, 2013

About ten years ago, I was working at a hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when I got the call from the keynote speaker… his flight was canceled and he wouldn’t be able to attend the conference. Our banquet captain at that time came up with the plan for us to do the presentation via speaker phone, and we advanced the PowerPoint slides for the speaker. I can’t say that it was a great success (the sound in particular was pretty bad), but it was better than the alternative: no keynote. Fortunately, we now have much better (and often affordable) options available to us today to bring in speakers virtually from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection. For a great example of this, see Adrian Segar’s post on bringing a keynote in via Google Hangouts.

Flight Cancellations and Delays: The Numbers

So how bad is the situation? It’s easy to point to major climate events such as October’s Hurricane Sandy that grounded over 17,000 flights, but what about the average day? In examining the data from for the past 30 days, the numbers are really astounding and signal the importance of having alternative arrangements in place.


Note: these numbers are estimates. They were generated in the late afternoon Pacific time zone and may have changed by the end of the day. Also, global data is not signficantly higher than the combined numbers for the three identified regions, so there may be flights from other regions that are not included in the data.

How Do Hybrid Meetings Help?

Hybrid meetings combine live and virtual meeting elements. They enable a live meeting or event to include a virtual audience or even virtual speakers. For me, the most effective ones also allow for real time, two-way interaction between the live and virtual communities, often through the use of social media. Hybrid meetings can help to mitigate the impact of flight delays or cancellations that result in speakers or attendees being unable to attend in person by providing an alternate way of participating.

How To Prepare

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a speaker being unable to attend your event due to flight cancellations, delays or other unforeseen circumstances:

  1. Select your platform in advance: Whether you are using one of the free services such as Skype or Google Hangouts, or partnering with one of our industry’s great event technology companies, have a platform selected in advance. Collect account information for your presenters in advance so that you can easily and quickly connect with them.
  2. Check your bandwidth capabilities: Not all venues will have the bandwidth needed to live stream a presentation. To determine this, I recommend the Convention Industry Council’s free and easy bandwidth estimator.
  3. Train your speakers: Provide your speakers with an orientation prior to your event. This is a great opportunity to discuss the needs of your specific audience so that the presentations can be tailored to them. Ideally, offer these orientations using the platform that you would use to bring them in virtually if the need arose and review the backup plan with them.
  4. Know where to go: Many airport lounges will have quiet areas or small private rooms where presenters can go to do deliver their presentations. Have a list on hand of where to go for the major hub airports for your destination.
  5. Pre-load your presentations: Ask your presenters to send you a copy of their presentations in advance so that these can be pre-loaded on your platform.
  6. Have a live facilitator: Have someone designated in advance to be a live facilitator for a virtual speaker. This person will be responsible not only for onsite logistics, but also for engaging both your live and virtual audiences and facilitating communication amongst them and with your speaker.

Gamification Framework for Meetings

January 23, 2013

Last month, I had the great honour of speaking at the Next Generation Meetings Conference in Stockholm about gamification in meetings and events. As part of the presentation, I developed a list of 5 key considerations when looking to enhance your meetings through the use of gamification.

To get us started, let’s start by defining gamification. In a nutshell, it is the application of game mechanics to non-game situations.

From an event perspective, examples can be high-tech, such as the development of mobile apps that encourage specific behaviours, rewarding participants with points for completing specific tasks (or quests). While the development of game apps for events is a growing trend, gamification should not be viewed only as this. Gamification can also be low-tech through the use of interactive activities that have game-like aspects. Regardless of the form that gamification takes for your event, there are a few key elements that should be considered: goals, audience, mechanics, execution and social.


  • Goals: The first (and arguably the most critical) step is to determine your meeting or event goals. Whether your goals be education, networking, innovation, awareness or something completely different, understanding your goals is fundamental as this will provide the context for your design decisions. You’ll want to have a clear understanding of your goals for your organization, your event, your community and potentially your industry.
  • Audience: Knowing your audience is also of great relevance to gamification. Going beyond the traditional understanding of demographics, you’ll also want to know about what motivates your audience, what is the organizational culture, and what are the attitudes and aptitudes for different manifestations of gamification – including technology and social media.
  • Mechanics: With your knowledge of your goals and audience, you’re now able to move into the mechanics stage. Develop aspects of your game in such a way that they reward your participants for the types of behaviours that will help you to achieve your goals. As an example, if you’re hoping to encourage your participants to visit your sponsors’ websites, you might want to develop a mobile app that gives points to your participants for doing this.
  • Execution: As great as your game may be, it also requires great execution skills in order to be successful. Effective games require onsite support, proper infrastructure, feedback mechanisms and champions. If you’re offering an app, consider offering an orientation or training as part of your opening session. Also, make sure that your venue offers the needed infrastructure, including appropriate bandwidth levels. FYI – there is a great bandwidth estimator available for free from the Convention Industry Council.
  • Social: Finally, your game needs to consider the types of social interactions that you would like to encourage. For example, is connecting your live and virtual audiences a priority? Are you hoping to facilitate teambuilding or networking? With this in mind, develop aspects of your game to encourage this type of interaction. A very cool tool for encouraging social media use at an event is the Kred Leaderboard. I saw it in action at Next Generation Meetings and I really liked that it measures both influence and outreach. To learn more about and influence as a game, check out Kred CEO Andrew Grill’s presentation at the Next Generation Meetings conference.

Susty Things I Loved in 2012

December 31, 2012

2012 was a big year.

Our book was published, my youngest started Kindergarten, and I had the opportunity to visit some great places. During my travels, I collected several snapshots of sustainable events, practices and venues and have compiled them into a list of my favourites from 2012.

Disclosure: In case you’re wondering – this post is completely biased and the comments are not endorsements. Almost all of these images refer to industry friends or to organizations/events that have hired me as a speaker in the past year. That said, I think it’s a shame to not celebrate the great things that are being done by these individuals and organizations.


Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
What: Sustainable Transportation

I was amazed by the great public transportation system in Copenhagen. Everyone rides it, including this little guy and lots of people with their bicycles. Speaking of bicycles – I am convinced that I saw more bikes than cars in Copenhagen, even though it was cold and snowy. I recommend picking up a Copenhagen Card for admission to several attractions and unlimited use of the metro. I also learned a great word for the holidays “Hygge”, which Visit Denmark defines as “creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.”


Where: Ottawa Convention Centre, Canada
What: Compost bins at a tradeshow

I’ve seen composting bins in a few venues this year, but these ones at the OCC were by far the classiest and were located near the buffet to help with the important issue of food waste. While I still believe that we need to reduce food waste before it happens, composting is a positive step towards managing it after it has been produced.


Where: Kimpton Hotels, Oregon, USA
What: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

In my last post, I wrote about EPR and how happy I was to see an example of a manufacturer taking responsibility for product disposal – even if the example came from the in-room honour bar. These toothbrushes can be mailed back to the manufacturer for recycling.


Where: Tampa Marriott Waterside, USA
What: Rooftop Garden

I had heard that this hotel had converted a pool-side kitchen into a rooftop farm, and so I went investigating in the middle of the night to find it.  FYI – the hotel saves $1000 a month in lettuce costs alone from their venture. While transportation emissions only represent a small percentage of the carbon footprint of food, I love the freshness, flavour and impact on local economies of local food.


Where: IMEX America, Las Vegas, USA
What: Alternative Energy

I love the bike blender that has been accompanying the Tourism Vancouver team to different tradeshows. Here it is being powered by Glenn Thayer, who I highly recommend as a moderator/host if you’re planning a hybrid event and want to ensure that your live and virtual audiences are engaged and your content and goals are effectively delivered.


Where: Museo del Acero, Monterrey, Mexico
What: Repurposed Recyclables

I had the opportunity to visit this museum in Monterrey, and loved the wall display of painted plastic soda pop bottles converted into planters. The number of plastic items that are thrown away each year is astounding, and the impact on the ocean is particularly troublesome, so to see them used in this way made me smile.


Where: Canada Day Celebrations, North Vancouver, Canada
What: Sunscreen Stations

Outdoor events on hot summer days are wonderful, and they also carry important risks: sunburn, heat stroke and dehydration. Save Your Skin Foundation set up a sunscreen station at a Canada Day Celebration in North Vancouver.


Where: Somewhere above Iceland
What: Styrofoam Avoided

I really don’t like polystyrene, and have found that several airlines use them for their in-flight service. That’s why I was so happy to see that Icelandair uses paper cups.


Where: White Point Beach Resort, Nova Scotia, Canada
What: Bunny Food

In November 2011, White Point Beach Resort‘s Main Lodge was destroyed in a fire. This summer, I was able to visit and there were so many things that were inspiring, from the incredible views, to the clear commitment to sustainability and the undeniable welcoming nature of Nova Scotians. But what struck me the most was a basket full of bunny food for the hundreds of wild rabbits that live on the property – even when preoccupied with a massive reconstruction, they didn’t forget the bunnies. The lodge is now reopened and I highly recommend it!


Where: San Francisco Airport, USA
What: Water Bottle Refill Stations

I love the trend towards having water bottle refill stations in public areas and event venues. In addition to this one at SFO, I spotted them in the Tampa Convention Center and the Clarion Hotel Arlanda in Stockholm.


Where: Prince George Hotel, Halifax, Canada
What: Sustainability Communication

This little frog prince can be found in each of the rooms of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax and draws attention to the towel and linen reuse programs in the hotel.


Where: CINTERMEX, Monterrey, Mexico
What: Ashtrays turned planter boxes

As someone with asthma, I really value smoke-free environments. I loved this example of an ashtray-turned-planter as a way of continuing to use the waste bins even though they had ashtrays on the top. FYI – According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 235 million people suffer from asthma.


Where: Las Vegas, USA
What: Tradeshow materials turned into an art exhibit

Repurpose America helps conventions to repurpose non-recyclable materials. When I was in Las Vegas for IMEX this fall, I met CEO Zachary Delbex who invited me to attend an art exhibit made almost entirely from materials that they had collected from tradeshows.


Where: CMP Conclave, Tampa Bay, USA
What: Donation in lieu of delegate gifts

I thought it was great that Tampa & Company made a donation to Make a Wish Foundation instead of delegate gifts at the CMP Conclave this year. I love seeing this type of commitment to the community and hope to see more of this in 2013.


Where: Costa Rica Trade Show Booth, ICOMEX
What: Bags made from recycled materials

These bags are made from 80% post-consumer waste materials, mostly bottles and polymer bags by Grupo Britt. In looking over their website, I found that they have another program that employs women from a high-risk neighbourhood to make tote bags from their own waste packaging.


Where: Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico
What: Shipping containers turned into food stands

I had never seen a shipping container turned into a a restaurant before spotting this one in Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, but I have since learned that they are popping up around the world.


Where: SACC Conference, San Diego, USA
What: Boxed water

Technically, I didn’t attend the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges conference, but my husband did and he brought one of these back from the event. Although I will always prefer a refillable bottle, boxed water provides a better alternative to bottled and can be a practical way of taking water to outdoor events where dehydration may be a concern.


Where: Tijuana, Mexico
What: Anti-littering signs

This may be a stretch for a post about sustainability, but I’m going to label it as waste management. This chewing-gum covered sign, which roughly translates to “Throwing out your gum is prohibited.” located outside Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana (home of the original Caesar salad), made me laugh. And, for the record, it was highly effective at keeping the street clear of gum.


Where: Tampa Bay, USA
What: Bike rentals

Bike rentals are a great trend that I’ve seen in many destinations, though I think that this waterside setting was the most picturesque. I’ve also noticed that several hotels are now offering them to guests to use during their stay. I think it’s a great way to promote exercise, low-carbon travel and local tourism. The most innovative bike program I’ve seen was in Montreal this summer where a partnership with Telus turned the bikes into free, pedal-powered wi-fi stations.


Where: Clarion Arlanda, Stockholm, Sweden
What: Gluten and lactose free buffet items

I was so happy to see a section of the (phenomenal) breakfast buffet at the Clarion Hotel Arlanda Airport dedicated to gluten, lactose and sugar free items. They also features these items in the coffee break for the conference that I attended.


Where: Halifax Waterfront, Canada
What: Solar compactors

The Halifax Waterfront has installed Big Belly Solar waste and recycling stations. The sections include can and bottle recycling, garbage, paper recycling and organics. The build-in solar powered compactors reduce collection frequency. They have also been effective at encouraging recycling rates, especially beverage containers, with a reported 95% diversion rate within 3 months and combined diversion rate of 83% for containers and paper.


Where: Geo Aventura Resort, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
What: Solar panels

I attended a team building activity at this eco-tourism resort this past fall, and was really impressed by their local hiring practices and these solar panels that they use to provide part of their energy needs.