IACC Americas Targets Radical Innovation, Responsibility

Participants at IACC Americas Connect 2019 last week were encouraged to shake things up by finding more innovative solutions to challenges in the meetings and events industry, and by accepting more global responsibility.

These bold messages set a dynamic tone for the conference, with the theme “Radical Innovation—Change Everything!’’ which was held at Vantage Venues and The Globe and Mail Centre in Toronto April 10 and 11. More than 230 participants—including some 20 meeting planners—attended the event.

Need for Disruptive Experimentation

At the opening general session, Pablos Holman, an inventor, innovator and faculty member at Singularity—an organization that prepares global leaders and organizations for the future—emphasized that rather than simply advance current lines of research, we need to think outside of these lines. He advocated disruptive experimentation, even though we are likely to have more failures than successes.

“No one person alone can provide answers—no one is that smart,” he says. “The only thing we can do is come up with a lot of ideas and test them. That’s true not only for inventors, but also for you.”

Consistent with the innovation theme, all the speakers at IACC Americas Connect were new, and their PowerPoint slides were limited to one word each. Also, on the first day, Smart Meetings and other industry media sources judged a contest in which candidates each made four-minute presentations on their innovative projects. Janice Cardinale and Richard Emmanuel of The Idea Hunter won the competition for Social Roamer, which takes enhanced photographs of attendees at gatherings and makes them quickly available to them for use on social media.

Becoming a More Responsible Global Player

The need to realize the broader effects of meetings industry activities was stressed throughout the conference. Alex Cabanas, CEO of Benchmark and the outgoing board president of IACC, spoke passionately about the need for enhanced sustainability efforts. “The meetings and events industry is one of the worst industries when it comes to waste,” he said. “We need to do a much better job.”

Educational sessions covered a wide range of topics, including radical innovations through values, gaming, virtual reality, the future of meetings, sustainability, F&B trends, and food risks and liability.

This was the first year that IACC involved meeting planners as well as university students—from Ryerson University and Seneca College, so that they could gain experience in the industry.

IACC’s next European conference, “Knowledge Festival,” will take place in Brussels Oct. 4–6, 2019. IACC Americas Connect 2020 will be held in Dallas.

Founded in 1981, IACC is dedicated to representing the best meeting venues globally. Consisting of more than 400 conference venue members, its conferences offer presentations and networking, with a focus on innovation.


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