Jennie Silverman is the Manager, Events Team with Kumon North America and has seen her fair share of meetings and events. Next year, she is taking one of their meetings to Alberta, Canada and she couldn’t be more excited. Not only is the destination a perfect place for meetings, she has also had a wonderful experience working with the team at Travel Alberta. Read on to learn about how the Travel Alberta team has helped her be prepared, her favorite meeting planner hack and what she sees as trending in the industry.
Tell us, what does your job entail?
Jennie: I am the manager of the Events Team for Kumon North America. I work on approximately 3 conferences per year, an incentive program for 500 attendees, educational conference for 1,400 attendees and a staff conference for 400 attendees. I manage a team of four members and oversee all areas of our conferences; budget, logistics, catering, audio visual, registration, marketing, content, hotel needs and anything else that comes up.
Tell us your favorite meeting planner hack?
Jennie: My favorite meeting planner hack is a good spreadsheet. I live by my event planning timeline spreadsheet which includes the event, event date, topic (i.e. registration, communication, etc.) task, due date, status and the completion date. Every task big and small gets added to this spreadsheet. As the year goes by our event planning gets better and better as this spreadsheet grows.
Any favorite words to live by?
Jennie: The founder of my company, Toru Kumon said “There is Never “Good Enough,” There Must Always be “Something Better.””
Most of the events that I work are annual events so I spend a considerable amount of time reviewing what was done this past year and how I can learn from it and improve it for next year. I never stop learning and improving.
What is one of your significant job challenges that working with the Travel Alberta team helped you solve?
Jennie: Marketing is one of the hardest challenges that I face. The Travel Alberta team has such a variety of ready to use marketing materials that it has made marketing the destination the easiest part of my planning process.
What are some of the distinctive attributes/destination offerings of Alberta that helped to make your meeting great?
Jennie: My meeting is scheduled to take place in July, 2018 in Calgary, using the marketing resources Meetings Calgary has available, we are encouraging our attendees to come early and stay late. We are offering tours up to Banff and Lake Louise which are truly bucket list destinations. I think our attendees will be really excited to try them!
How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?
Jennie: A CVB is like the missing link in the planning process. I know the needs of my meeting but the CVB knows the details of the destination. Working with Travel Alberta has helped pair my meeting with the destination in a seamless fashion.
Will you use a unique venue for a gathering or event while in Alberta?
Jennie: Calgary has such wonderful attractions, so for the first time we will be hosting two of our evening’s events off-site. Our Welcome Reception will take place at Studio Bell where our attendees can network, learn more about the Canadian music scene and play around with interactive exhibits.
Our Closing Reception will take place at the Calgary Stampede at Stampede Park hosting a private rodeo for our attendees followed by a BBQ dinner with dancing. I am so excited to take these events out of a standard ballroom and allow my attendees to experience all that Calgary has to offer.
What do you see as innovative or trending in the future of the meeting’s industry?
Jennie: I see staying local and highlighting the destination more as a huge trend for the meeting industry. In the past attendees would travel to meetings and the destination would not come into play at all. The meeting would take place at a standard hotel with standard food that could have been anywhere in the world.
The newest trend is to stay local and bring the local destination into the meeting, highlighting more of what the destination has to offer. I am doing this with Alberta and Calgary by hosting our evening events outside of the ballroom. One will be in the new Studio Bell, which will connect our attendees to music from across Canada. I will also be adding local micro-brews from the Alberta area to all our bars and of course including Alberta AAA beef in our menus.