In the same way last month's Space Allocation Meeting was an important planning step for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 from the exhibitor side, Monday saw another important behind-the-scenes procedure with the education planning meeting for 2008. I was an observer for the day during a critical gathering that sets the tone for the attendee experience this November in Orlando.
In preparation for this big meeting, every winter each of IAAPA's committees meet individually with their respective IAAPA staff liaison to identify sessions and events for the upcoming Expo. As volunteers, our committees do a lot: They identify trends and important issues to cover, contact speakers for the event, write the session descriptions, and moderate the sessions during the Expo.
Fast-forward to this week, when 17 committee representatives along with IAAPA staffers met yesterday down the street from the association's Alexandria, Virginia, headquarters to painstakingly walk through each and every session and networking event planned for each discipline (FECs, marketing, museums, etc.). The goal is for all the committees, the staff, and the education committee chair (Ted Molter of the San Diego Zoo) to work through any conflicts in scheduling; any problematic overlaps in content; or any other gaps in the education offerings.
Then there are the more subtle things they watched for: The room was full of some of the top-level people in our industry from many of the most well-known attractions in the world. In a few cases, when someone had a question or was struggling to come up with alternative speakers or programs to include, invariably there was someone else in the room who could help. The meeting wasn't just a gathering of committee members speaking for their own interests, but a collaboration of information, ideas, and perspectives.
By the end of the meeting, thanks to Cameron Kiosoglous, IAAPA's education program manager, a draft schedule for the entire week's offerings was complete—by 2:30 p.m.!
By all accounts, it was a successful meeting, said Molter, who asked that each committee representative spread the word to the rest of the committees. Additionally, Eamon Connor, IAAPA's senior manager of education, added that in his 10 years with the association, the committee and staff was further along in education planning than it had ever been.
In the end, those who benefit the most from a strong collaboration like the one that took place on Monday are the attendees, as they're in for a stellar line up of speakers and sessions this November.
For more details on education, tour, and event highlights, keep checking this blog and FUNWORLD magazine.