The Minutes:  Insights, Learnings, and Highlights from the 2018 Conference


The 2018 CAEM Annual Conference delivered on its promise to spark great ideas, cultivate new skills and create memorable connections.

With so much quality education on the agenda, this year’s program had no shortage of valuable information. This also made it difficult to pick just one concurrent session from the mix of incredible topics and speakers.

Inspired by our theme #BetterTogether, we rounded up a few members to help summarize some of the incredible content from the 2018 Conference. Our goal: to distill 3 days’ worth of insights, learnings and highlights in bite-size pieces. We hope these Minutes will help rekindle conversations started during those 3 days and maybe even inspire new meaningful ones with partners, collaborators and friends.

View our photo album of the Conference here.

Session:  Social Media Strategies to Increase Attendance at your Events
Speaker:  Catherine Luzena-Hall
Recap by:  Bianca Kennedy, Show Manager, The Motorcycle Shows

  1. Social media is your brand. It’s an essential part of your overall marketing strategy.
  2. Your social media messaging needs to be consistent with the rest of your messaging goals.
  3. Your social media plan MUST be formalized.
  4. Why social?
    1. Cost effective
    2. Audience multiplier
    3. Brand engagement
    4. Proven results
  5. Establish your KPIs (key performance indicators) such as followers, engagement, likes and shares.
  6. Think of your audience in terms of behaviours and interests, rather than demographics.
  7. When posting content, always ask yourself “would I share this?”
  8. What NOT to do on social media:
    1. Do not overshare content from other pages/sources – you need to create original content
    2. Do not ignore the creative – social media is a visual platform
    3. Do not repeat content – put a different spin, angle or opinion on the same message
    4. Do not write novels – messages need to be short and snappy
    5. Do not spray and pray – quality content over quantity of content
  9. For paid campaigns, always pay for clicks rather than for impressions
  10. 6 months out from an event, focus on awareness. 2 weeks out from an event, focus on conversion.

Session: Dealing with Risk & Uncertainty When Violence Strikes
Speaker:  Carol Cambridge
Session recap by:  Nicole Jeffrey, CMP, Event Planner, Trade Show & Events, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

  1. Every event needs a safety plan to properly assess and prepare for risks and event safety.
  2. A successful plan needs buy-in from all key stakeholders and partners.
  3. Capture emergency contact information whenever possible from your attendees/exhibitors.
  4. Work closely with your venue and security contractor when building your plan for their expertise.
  5. In case of evacuation, a backup meeting place should be chosen that is over 4 blocks away in case of bombing/area evacuation.
  6. Your security plan should contain the locations of local hospitals.
  7. Both general evacuation plans and an active shooter plan should be prepared.
  8. When developing your plans, assess the security considerations specific to your event:
    1. Celebrities, dignitaries, or high-profile people in attendance
    2. Concurrent events in the same venue/area that may be controversial
    3. Are attendees likely to be carrying weapons?
    4. Ask speakers if there are any threats against them
    5. Is your event likely to attract protesters?
    6. Is there anything unique about your event that would need extra security?
    7. Are there any bottlenecks in your floorplan or sections of the venue where there is a high crowd density?
  9. Elements to consider that might be a risk for your event:
    1. Attendee demographics
    2. History of your event
    3. City and political climate
    4. Number of attendees
    5. Supplier/client resources available (financial, logistical)
    6. Experience level of planner
    7. Lead time prior to event (is there sufficient time to prepare)

Session: Event Tech Tools
Speaker: Julius Solaris
Session recap by:  Nicole Jeffrey, CMP, Event Planner, Trade Show & Events, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

  1. Event tech should be a tool used to get results, not a goal in itself.
  2. Introduce through incremental innovation – small steps to get people to engage, don’t try to change everything all at once.
  3. Master The 6 P's of Engagement:
    • Place (Wi-Fi, design, décor, usability)
    • People (staff)
    • Performers (speakers)
    • Public (attendees)
    • Platforms (Q&A, live display, social walls)
    • Purpose
  4. Embrace the FIRE principle:
    • Flawless execution
    • Idea
    • Relevance
    • Engagement
  5. Make sure that your tech infrastructure (Wi-Fi, system capacity) keeps up with the technology being utilized.
  6. Technology capabilities can change rapidly, make sure that you are regularly reviewing the new offerings/features your suppliers can provide.
  7. Tech should generate interest and engagement in your event, and create a ‘fear of missing out’.
  8. Tech ideas for your events:
    1. Chatbots that can answer a list of common questions, and let you know if there are FAQs that you have not been addressing.
    2. – wristbands that can easily transfer pictures and upload to social media
    3. – sponsorship proposal builders that incorporates videos and images
    4. Scanalytics – mats/sensors that track attendance and hot spots
    5. Virtual event delegate bags with online links and offers
    6. Live polling integrated into apps
    7. Virtual reality experiences

Session: The “Trade Show Diet”: From Adversity to Success in 12 Weeks!
Speaker: Steve Prahalis
Session recap by:  Nicole Jeffrey, CMP, Event Planner, Trade Show & Events, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

  1. Shows can run into problems for a number of reasons, for example a show that looks great, but doesn’t take off or a mature event that runs into challenges.
  2. A 12-week plan can significantly change the outcome of a troubled show, as long as all players are committed, and no one gets stuck in the political weeds (looking backwards, blame game).
  3. A significant strategy shift is required, important to commit to frequent communication, transparency, prioritizing critical components, establishing accountability and resetting goals. All departments have their role to play.
  4. Event management
    1. Set daily goals
    2. Contact key current major exhibitors/associations/publications to provide testimonials
    3. Set a goal and a financial incentive for the entire affected team
  1. Event Sales
    1. Establish the number of sales (accounts, dollars) you need for revised goal
    2. Determine how large a prospect pool you need in order to meet the goal
    3. Revisit and contact all your prospects and past customers – their answer may change
    4. Consider hiring temporary telemarketers to increase contact rate
    5. Create new opportunities – newcomer package/introduce welcome back package
    6. Create bundled initiative (space, booth, advertising, sponsorship)
  1. Operations
    1. Ensure you have the right size venue and floor and redesign your floor plan – remove booths and create better flow
    2. Add turnkey pavilions
    3. Review space needs and F&B with facility to see what your options are to save costs
    4. Meet with your decorator to discuss options
    5. Review all your expenses and identify all ‘nice to have’ and must haves – but don’t sacrifice critical components or event experience
  1. Marketing
    1. You will need to revamp your marketing plan around a new 12-week target
    2. Send attendee pieces to exhibitors/potential exhibitors as well so they can see the value in being present at the show
    3. Can include emails, inserts, polybags, post cards, social media
    4. Frequency matters at this point
    5. Make sure that all attendee marketing reference ‘sales and sponsorship’ opportunities
    6. Use your attendee/conference registration data in your marketing materials to show value

Session: The Inner Secrets to Double your Memory
Speaker: Ron Rosenberg
Session recap by: Michelle Kofman, CEM, Show Manager, Toronto Shoe Show

  1. Remembering names and faces is easier than you think. When meeting people:
    1. Look them in the eye
    2. Associate a physical characteristic of a person and quickly put it to their name, whether in a word or a rhyme
    3. Be outrageous, but keep it to yourself
  2. Build a story around a word or a phrase
  3. Associating a story or a thing to a word or name allows you to better access it when you need it
  4. Creating a rhyme or a song to a name or word gives it more dimension, and therefore becomes easier to remember
  5. Associating something funny can also help to trigger memory
  6. The two following methods were used in the workshop:


  1. Review about a dozen unrelated words on a page
  2. Turn it over and rewrite all the words you remember
  3. Group outcome with first try was minimal words remembered
  4. Ron put a story to the words
  5. Result: by the end of the session the entire class could recount every word and tell the story


  1. Review about a dozen faces on a page
  2. Ron gave us the names of the people
  3. Turn over the page and recount the names under each face
  4. Ron went through each face and associated something outrageous and funny to each name
  5. Result: by the end of the session the group could recount most or all the names on the page