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Waterparks are known to cool you off on a summer day, but what about a waterpark hotel? Below are eight waterpark hotels that are sure to help you beat the heat:

Photo credit: El Conquistador Resort El Conquistador Resort – Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is Coqio Water Park at El Conquistador Resort. With three high-speed slides at the top of the 60-foot Torre de Yocahu Tower and the 40-foot El Gigante Dormido drop, it’s hard not to get your adrenaline pumping. From high-speed slides ones with twists and turns, there’s something for everyone. If relaxing is more your speed, take a dip in the 9,000 sq.ft. infinity pool or soak up the rays in a hammock or cabana.

Photo credit: Wilderness Resort Wilderness Resort – Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Penned as America’s largest waterpark resort, Wilderness Resort features eight waterparks. The four indoor waterparks include: Klondike Kavern, Wild Waterdome, Wild West and Cubby’s Cove. If you want to soak up the sun, they have their four outdoor waterparks: New Frontier, Lake Wilderness, Lost World and Cubby’s Outdoor Waterpark. There are lazy rivers, hot springs, thrilling slides, wave pools, bumper boats and more. Don’t worry parents, there’s even a swim-up bar and cabanas for rent.

Photo credit: Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance – Anaheim, California

Located right across the street from Disneyland Park, the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park entrance offers more than just easy access. The hotel is home to Surfside Waterpark and is sure to please the entire family. Surfside Waterpark features six slides, a 400-gallon drench bucket, pool and hot tub. The waterpark also offers stunning views of Disneyland Park’s Monorail, Space Mountain, Matterhorn and firework display.

Photo credit: Jumeirah Vittaveli Jumeirah Vittaveli – Maldives

From Infinity Pool Ocean Villas and Private Ocean Retreats with slides to overwater hammocks, Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives has it all. Who wouldn’t like to slide right into the crystal-clear water straight from their deck? Each villa has its own private swimming pool, in addition to the adult and family pools.

Photo credit: Aulani Disney Resort & Spa Aulani Disney Resort & Spa – Kapolei, Hawaii

Swim with fish, take a tubing adventure through rapids or the lazy river, take a splash in the infinity pool or slip down some waterslides at Aulani Disney Resort & Spa in Kapolei, Hawaii. The resort has many options to choose from if you’re looking to cool off. Parties at the Waikolohe Pool, squirting jets at the Keiki Cove Splash Zone, two slides at the Menehune Bridge, tubing through Waikolohe Stream, whirlpool spas, and the adults-only Wailana Pool are just some of the activities awaiting.

Photo credit: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa – Bonita Springs, Florida

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa is home to the largest pool area south of Orlando! This three-acre waterpark has five slides, four pools, a lazy river, a hot tub and a waterfall, there’s something for everyone to enjoy! Featuring three thrilling waterslides and a lazy river, the waterpark is great for those who seek adventure or relaxation. Don’t forget about the lagoon-style pool; there’s a slide for the little ones and a 140-foot corkscrew slide for the adults!

Photo credit: JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa – San Antonio, Texas

From the lazy river to the slide to the whirlpool and beyond, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is the ultimate waterpark experience. The hotel offers the nine-acre waterpark, River Bluff Water Experience. The waterpark includes a 650-foot rapid river with slides and 1,100-foot lazy river; perfect for thrill seekers and relaxers alike. Need fun for the whole family? The hotel also has a children’s waterpark with fountains and a variety of hands-on activities.

Photo credit: Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort – Runaway Bay, Jamaica

Looking for an island getaway? Look no further, Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort has what you’re looking for. Included with your stay is the Jewel Lagoon Water Park featuring a family raft ride, two splash-down pools, a lazy river with rock grottos and waterfalls, splash zones, multi-level slides, a speed slide and more! There’s even a zero-entry beach lagoon with geysers! Best of all, its all-inclusive!

The post Cool Down at These Waterpark Hotels appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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Sponsored by Visit Temecula Valley

Meet in Temecula Valley, Southern California

From inspiring venues to diverse activities, experience a hidden gem, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, for your next meeting. Selected as one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 10 Best Wine Travel Destination, Temecula Valley is where meetings rise above.

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Rise Above the Vines

Take you meeting to new heights – literally in a hot air balloon. Float above the vines in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country for an exhilarating, early morning experience. A balloon flight creates the perfect beginning to any meeting!

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Ride in Style

Tour Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country with Grapeline's brand new Mercedes Panoramic touring van. The Panoramic is the world’s first hardtop convertible touring van accommodating up to 19 passengers featuring a retractable, full-glass sides and roof, allowing for unrestricted 180-degree views.

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Wine Blending Classes

Be a winemaker for the day! Grab a lab coat and blend separate red wines using cylinders and pipettes. Each participate will be able to bring home a bottle of their own wine. Shuttle service available at local hotels including Embassy Suites by Hilton Temecula Valley Wine Country.

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Behind the Scenes Wine Tours

Explore Temecula Valley vineyards with a guided tour at many local wineries in Southern California. Experience award-winning wines, culinary delights, event space and even stay among the vines at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa.

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Wellness Refresh

A yoga session is the ideal way to break the ice and rejuvenate before a meeting. Attend a team building yoga class at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa where you will work on key teamwork elements. Book a class at Spa Pechanga and experience the luxury of wellness and meditation.

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Tee-up in Southern California

Temecula offers five golf courses with a combined 99-holes to enjoy before your meeting. Head to Temecula Creek Inn’s 27-Hole course, surrounded by over 300 acres of natural beauty. Journey at Pechanga is consistently ranked among the nation’s best courses by Golf Week magazine.

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Craft Distillery Experience

At Galway Spirits, you and your team will discover how to make your own spirits and take home your own craft bottle. Discover the art of small-scale distillery production, enjoy a lunch, a custom Galway T-shirt, and a comprehensive Galway Spirits tasting opportunity.

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Harvest Adventure

Celebrate our harvest season with some adventure! You’ll be a-“mazed” with the 11-acre Big Horse Corn Maze, the largest corn maze in Southern California. Enjoy additional activities for your group such as hay-rides, a corn cannon, pumpkin patch, and food vendors.

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When you think California wine country meeting what comes to mind? Napa Valley? Sonoma? Maybe it is time to set the GPS for something a little farther south: Temecula, San Diego and Santa Barbara come to mind. Nancy Light, vice president of communications for The Wine Institute, California’s wine industry advocacy group, has some suggestions. She reminded us that the natural beauty of SoCal, the vineyards surrounding the wineries and the casual, yet elevated, atmosphere of wineries makes them perfect hospitality venues.

Smart Meetings rounded up 10 of the best wineries for meetings in Southern California so you can wow your attendees with wine and the perfect venue at your next event.

Temecula

South Coast Winery Resort and Spa

Temecula Valley’s only full-service winery-resort is the perfect location for an all-inclusive, wine-soaked event. With on-site accommodations nestled amongst the vineyards, restaurants, a spa, gym and yoga classes, guests have everything they need at their fingertips; and with 40,000 sq. ft. of flexible indoor-outdoor meeting space and experienced staff, the meeting planner does, too.

Monte de Oro Winery

Founded in 2002 by a collection of 107 family owners from South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, Monte de Oro winery strives to combine personal passion for wine and a business that will help raise Temecula’s profile in the world of wine. They pay careful attention to vineyard practices such as canopy management, controlling yields and careful handling of the fruit. All of this is set in a beautiful Spanish-style winery where old world charm meets new world sophistication.

Oak Mountain

Home to Temecula’s first subterranean wine caves and located on the ridge of a mountain 1,450 ft. above Temecula Valley, Oak Mountain winery has several unique perks to offer. Guests can hold events in their 10,000-square-foot wine cave and dine surrounded by barrels of aging wine or in their climate-controlled pavilion with beautiful views of vineyards and valleys. Oak Mountain is famous for their strawberry and raspberry champagnes and honestly, what’s better than strawberries, champagne and beautiful scenery to bring a group together?

Ponte Family Estates Winery

“If you like it, it’s good wine!” is the official slogan at Ponte Winery and the unassuming and sincere tone that the phrase sets is reflected throughout the winery. Filled with light, airy rooms and event spaces like the Vineyard Pavilion and Reserve Room, guests are sure to revel in the natural beauty that this homey and welcoming winery has to offer. A boutique inn on site offers 90 guest rooms so attendees can be close at hand while the Cellar Lounge is the only full bar in the area if guests get tired of wine (although we’re not sure if that possible).

Thornton Winery

Thornton Winery is a winery-cum-concert venue. With more than 31 years of experience in hosting musical events and weekly Friday Night Concerts on the patio, Thornton Winery offers a fun and lively atmosphere scarcely found amongst vineyards. Thornton boasts several indoor and outdoor event spaces that can accommodate 10-400 people and event staff are happy to help with imaginative themes, unique menus and ensure every detail of your event is perfect, giving the planner time to try a chocolate wine or two (described as an adult milk shake—now that is something we can get behind!)

San Diego

Bernardo Winery

Founded in 1889, Bernardo Winery is the oldest continuously operating family-owned winery in Southern California. Its age isn’t the only thing that makes Bernardo Winery unique, however. The village of shops, a salon, a cafe and coffee roaster, artisan studios, a yoga studio and a theatre create a unique community within the vineyards. Meeting spaces can hold up to 300 people and between exploring the shops and winery and opportunities to blend your own wine and create your own label, attendees are sure to leave Bernardo Winery with special memories and memorabilia.

San Diego Wine and Culinary Event Center

If you can’t quite make it out to wine country, you can still hold a winery themed event with hands on activities for attendees surrounding wine and food. Although not technically a winery, San Diego Wine and Culinary Event Center specializes in local and craft cuisine and wine. Dine in their wine cellar and you will forget that you are downtown, steps away from San Diego Convention Center and convention hotels in the historic Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego.

Santa Barbara

Carr Vineyards and Winery

With two locations, one in downtown Santa Barbara and another in downtown Santa Ynez, guests can witness a working winery from aging to waxing and shipping bottles. The convenience of the downtown location of the Santa Barbara winery is ideal for events hosted in the city. Ryan Carr supervises the growing of the grapes within Santa Barbara County to ensure all of his products are to his exact specifications.

Gainey Vineyard

This Spanish-style, family-owned and run vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley began as a small project to make wine for the family. The grapes did so well and the wine was so good that the Gainey family decided to make a business of it, but have kept the wholesome family charm that the winery was built on. An old barn in the middle of their vineyards is a rustic and beautiful venue for any kind of event and the property offers several corporate retreat packages from blind wine tasting to a hike and picnic in the vineyards or a jeep tour and barrel tasting.

Orange County

Giracci Vineyards and Farms

Previously in disrepair, Giracci Farms and Vineyards was rescued by Chad and Linda Kearns in 2005 and turned into the rustic, elegant and charming winery it is today. Located just minutes from Executive Parks in Irvine, Lake Forest, Newport Beach and Anaheim, this winery is the perfect venue for meetings, conventions or team-building events (who doesn’t like bonding over wine?) The paddock of horses out back ridden by top-level riders and community groups alike speaks to the inclusive and welcoming nature of Giracci.

The post 10 of Southern California’s Most Meeting-Friendly Wineries appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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Photo Credit: Parker Palm Springs Parker Palm Springs

Looking to enjoy a vacation full of amazing food or relaxing at the spa? Parker Palm Springs offers both. You can enjoy an Estate Room and a $250 credit toward food and drinks anywhere on the property with its Glutton’s Delight offer. If you prefer a relaxing spa vacation, Parker Palm Springs also provides a package with $250 in credit toward spa treatments at Palm Springs Yacht Club and an Estate Room. Also, a Helicopter Charter package from Los Angeles or Orange County to the hotel is offered for up to eight guests, staying in a villa or the Gene Autry residence.

Hilton Orlando Photo Credit: Hilton Orlando

For an amusement park vacation package, Hilton Orlando has quite a few options from which to choose. Hilton Orlando has packages that include SeaWorld, Universal Orlando and Discovery Cove.

If you want to swim with dolphins, snorkel with rays and have it be all-inclusive, Discovery Cove is exactly what you’re looking for. The hotel offers this package that includes a choice between the day resort with dolphin swim or just the day resort, as well as breakfast and lunch, unlimited snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages), signature seating at SeaWorld’s shows, priority entry for SeaWorld and Aquatica (on select days) and more.

If you just want to go to SeaWorld, there’s a package for that. It offers one free child’s admission (with each paid adult), signature show seating and a free I-ride trolley pass per person. Both these packages include your third night free. Want to ride some coasters and enjoy some relaxation? The Universal Orlando Package  offers four-night hotel accommodations, 3-Park 2-Day Park-to-Park Tickets with three days free, early park admission to select parks and access to select live entertainment venues at Universal CityWalk.

NOPSI Hotel New Orleans Photo Credit: NOPSI Hotel

If you’re looking for somewhere to cool down and beat the summer heat, NOPSI Hotel in New Orleans could be the place for you. NOPSI is offering up to 30 percent off rooms and suites with its Summer Days deal. The hotel has other deals and packages that fit just about everyone’s needs. From the Bed & Breakfast Deal, which features breakfast in the comfort of your own room or the dining room to the Girlfriend’s Getaway package—featuring a personal shopping experience at Saks Fifth Avenue, one 50-minute in-room massage per registered guest and a Junior Suite—it’s hard to find a better place to stay. NOPSI Hotel also offers weekly activities such as Jazz Brunch and Tempo Tuesdays.

Colony Club by Elegant Hotels, Barbados Photo Credit: Colony Club

Colony Club has a long list of summer activities planned for the whole family. Soak up the sun, compete in its Beach Olympics, decorate some cookies, do some yoga and much more. Colony Club has daily activities that everyone can enjoy. Among other amenities, the hotel offers Wi-Fi, water sports (motorized and nonmotorized), a fitness center and classes and daily breakfast—and kids under 12 stay free.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland Photo Credit: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland

Can’t wait to enjoy summer? Do you want to live like a king? This hotel in Oregon could be the place for you. You can save up to 15 percent and enjoy a $15 transportation credit or $15 off valet parking per stay with its Summer Awaits deal. Complimentary amenities from the hotel that are included with all packages are a nightly hosted evening social hour, a morning tea and coffee service, yoga mats in every room and bikes to ride into town with, just to name a few. The hotel is also pet-friendly.

Bahia Resort Hotel, San Diego Photo Credit: Bahia Resort Hotel

This hotel has a variety of fun activities on-site that everyone can participate in. Located right on the beach, the hotel has weekly activities such as s’mores on the beach, movies on the bay, ice cream socials and beach volleyball! In addition to these exciting activities, the hotel offers packages that include admission to SeaWorld, Legoland, San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Bahia Resort Hotel also has a Bed & Breakfast Special that includes a room with a patio or balcony, with breakfast for two the following morning at the Cafe Bahia, and the California Dreaming Package so you can celebrate summer on Mission Bay with a beachside concert that includes a barbecue, clam bake and drinks.

The post Bling Out Your Summer Hotel Package appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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Amazon Prime day is here! Today and tomorrow take advantage of countless deals on Amazon and stock up on gifts for attendees, prizes for contests or treat yourself to something special (we all know you deserve it!) Not sure what Prime Day is? We’ve got you covered, check out this article to find out why today is so special and how to join in the fun! In the meantime, we have chosen six prime deal products that we think you, and your attendees, will love.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray

These energizing and hydrating sprays will re-fresh and re-vitalize guests after a long day of traveling or meetings and are ideal for dry environment (ahem, airplanes). The pack contains a rosewater and a green tea spray so guests can pick their poison!

MoreBeauty Hack: 3 Options for Getting Glam on the Go

Meidong E7B Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

For long flights nothing helps us sleep more than noise cancelling headphones. Silence the drone of the plane, the crying baby behind you and the music blasting from your neighbor’s headphones and actually get some shut on your next red eye. Ideal as a competition prize that will actually make attendees want to participate.

Assorted Live Succulents

Stop giving attendees gifts that they will forget about the minute they leave your event. Instead, why not surprise them with a plant. Not only are succulents trendy, they are small, almost impossible to kill and once they are at home on your guests’ desks, they will be a daily reminder of your wonderful event.

Oculus Go Standalone Virtual Reality Headset

Virtual reality (VR) goggles or headsets are becoming more and more popular. Use these for an experience at your event or as a prize for a lucky attendee. Additionally, check out how VR goggles can make your life easier, as they can be used for virtual site-visits (link below).

MoreWhy Virtual Reality Tours Will Become Your New Best Friend

Veegoal Glass Water Bottle

Meet your event sustainability goals and give attendees a gift they will use every day. These stylish and minimalist glass water bottles are machine washable, come in many colors and will remind your guests to stay hydrated!

MoreTips for Reducing Stress Before, During and After an Event

Velagol Finger Rings

With countless gadgets and gizmos for phones these days it can be difficult to know which ones are actually useful. Finger rings can be easily attached to phones to make holding and using them easier. With a finger ring, selfies are a snap and attendees can use their phone with one hand, ensuring that they are snapping and posting photos throughout your entire event (free publicity? Yes please!)

The post Smart Shopping Special: Amazon Prime Day appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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Meetings and hospitality technology provider, Cvent, released Cvent Community at its annual conference, Cvent CONNECT. The Community is a forum that fosters peer-to-peer engagement where planners and product users can share their knowledge and best practices, while they learn how to better engage with the Cvent solutions and educational resources.

Cvent Community offers professionals an open online space to discuss ideas and learn from other professionals. In addition to peer-to-peer discussion and best practice sharing, Cvent Community offers:

  • Training and education: Find often-searched help topics and access training resources.
  • Product updates: Stay informed about Cvent product features and enhancements.
  • Customer support: Quick access to the Cvent support team and past support cases.

“The Community is a direct result of the feedback and suggestions our customers have provided—it’s truly built by our customers, for our customers,” said Stacey Fontenot, vice president of marketing at Cvent. “While nothing beats the power of meeting face-to-face, we’re proud to offer our customers the unique opportunity to enjoy a similar ‘live’ experience in an online forum. We look forward to continuing to enhance and expand the Community offerings with input from those who matter most: our customers.”

The post Cvent Discussion Forum Fosters Communication appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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Think virtual reality (VR) goggles are only useful for your teenage nephew’s video games? Think again. Smart Meetings got a behind the scenes look at the emerging technology from Sandy Hammer, Co-Founder of AllSeated. This collaboration network for planning events uses stereoscopic display to create realistic VR tools for venues and planners. Here is what we learned:

The Vision

AllSeated calls their VR software AllSeated Vision to describe the “immersive visualization tool that takes us to another dimension.” This VR can create an authentic, sensory experience for the planner and clients that allows them to view a space almost as if there were actually there. AllSeated offers more than VR tours—3D floorplans, seating arrangements, RSVPs, mobile check-in and guest list management services create an interactive environment where planners and venues can work together to create the perfect event.

More: CVBs Deploy 007 Tech

Onsite Inspections

Not only does AllSeated allow planners to virtually view event spaces, it allows them to view event spaces set up in different ways. Think about being able to view a space with rounds one minute and a moment later, the same space with an auditorium-based set up. The experience can be accessed on a mobile, computer or through VR goggles, and eliminates the need for planners to do as many in-person site visits, making their job that much easier—particularly when the site is an ocean away!

AllSeated is used by tens of thousands of clients, and when you have to choose between fantastic venues such as Bentley Reserve San Francisco and Conrad New York, a VR tour of the space will make the decision easier.

In the Words of a Beta-Tester

Kate Patay, CPCE, founder of Patay Consulting, beta tested the software and reported that she “was impressed with the lifelike visualizations of various event set-ups.” “VR makes it easy to sell your venue’s potential, eliminates the need for on-site inspections, and allows you to close more business from anywhere in the world,” she said. AllSeated is, according to Kate, “The most cutting edge and forward-thinking VR platform in [the events] industry.”

More: Tech Conferences That Wow Attendees

The post Why Virtual Reality Tours Will Become Your New Best Friend appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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Whether you are sunning yourself on a white sandy beach somewhere, treating yourself to a lazy Sunday morning in bed or merely have a flight to catch this summer, why not close your laptop, put your phone down and pick up a book?

We have rounded up seven must-reads this summer that you will not want to put down. From light-hearted fiction to useful self-help and beautifully emotional memoirs, these books will distract you from your life and usefully inform you while providing a wonderful respite from daily routines into a world of love, secrets and literature.

Fiction City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert transports us to the 1940s as she weaves a tale about sexuality, promiscuity, pleasure and regret, told through an old woman reminiscing on her past. Full of charismatic characters, intense love stories and an underlying theme of being yourself, this book will enrapture you and make you feel an uncanny nostalgia for a time long passed.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

Poet Ocean Vuong’s highly anticipated debut novel is everything it was built up to be. Written as a letter from a 20-something-year-old son to his mother who cannot read, Vuong’s beautifully poetic novel deals with issues of race, class and masculinity. Culminating in a shocking revelation to the boy’s mother, Vuong touches on current American themes with the astonishing compassion and tenderness found in the relationship between a single mother and her son.

Nonfiction Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love, by Dani Shapiro

In this compelling memoir, Shapiro tells the startling true story of how she discovered that her father is not her biological father. After taking a DNA test on a whim in 2016, Shapiro was confronted with the harsh reality that everything she had thought she knew, and wrote, about her family and herself might not be true. A true story of secrets, self-awareness, ethics and the ferocious pace with which science and technology are developing.

Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo

Journalist Lisa Taddeo spent eight years driving around the country collecting experiences and inspiration for her book. The outcome? A breathtakingly genuine look into desire. The book tells the story of three women—a mother living in suburban Indiana who is starved for affection that her husband doesn’t provide, a teenage girl in North Dakota who had an affair with her teacher and a beautiful restaurant owner in the Northeast who has an interesting sex-life, comprising her husband and many other people.

The true stories of desire, intimacy and experiences, told with the frankness of a reporter, create a beautiful book full of unforgettable women whose experiences will remind you that you are not alone.

Self-Help Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis

If you haven’t read Hollis’ first book, Girl, Wash Your Face, then, well, read it. Full of actionable ideas, Hollis gives blunt advice in a captivating way on how women can (and should) shed their fears and aim to reach their full potential. Armed with the idea that women often talk themselves out of achieving their dreams, Hollis, rather unapologetically, teaches women (and men) everywhere to let go of the excuses holding them back from greatness. Let’s be honest—who wouldn’t benefit from this book?

Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferris

Published in 2016, this title isn’t exactly new, but it is, in our opinion, one of the best self-help books ever written. If you do not own a copy, we suggest you remedy that immediately. Tim Ferris’ book combines a large collection of advice on “The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers,” the subtitle of the book.

The idea behind it is simple: No one can be an expert on everything, but a lot of people can be experts on very specific things, so, why not bring all that expert advice into one place? The format is easily digestible, and the advice consists of real things that “normal” people can actually do. Split into three sections—healthy, wealthy and wise—the book covers a wide range of topics, so there is something in it for everyone—especially planners!

Poetry Little Boy, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s new book came out in 2019 to celebrate the poets 100th birthday (yes, you read that right, the man wrote and published a book at 100 years old). The first poet laureate of San Francisco and co-owner of renowned publishing house and bookstore City Lights, Ferlinghetti holds a special place in San Francisco literary history. He was a founding force in the beat movement in the ’50s and his poetry reflects that style.

This memoir-cum-poetry book touches on Ferlinghetti’s life, memories and ideas about the ever-shifting social fabric he grew old in. Robert Pinsky’s review in The New York Times Book Review perhaps best encapsulates the over-arching question of the book: “Who, little boys and girls, juvenile yet old, do we think we are?”

The post Hot Summer Reading Suggestions for Planners appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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A June 25 Hackathon asked participants to find a solution for the unsheltered homeless issue. Photo by Jacob Slaton Photography.

PCMA EduCon planners set the lofty goal of hacking homelessness at their June event in Las Vegas. To address the complex issue of helping the unsheltered—a topic that touches meetings in cities across the world—President and CEO Sherrif Karmat brought in Jamie Murdock, vice president of sales at Experient, and Donna Kastner, founder of Retirepreneur, who have been leading “hackathons” to facilitate brainstorming teams on topics related to the industry—but usually not issues quite as big and complicated as this one.

Karamat saw the topic as a perfect fit with PCMA’s Giving Good program, which allows event organizers to help local causes in host cities. “We want to take the learnings to a broader community,” he said after the winner was revealed. 

“We can’t hide our issues or sweep them under the rug. We have had events move out of cities because of homelessness,” he said. “There is no blame, but we need to help these people instead of avoiding the problem. If we aren’t there, how can we have the real, difficult conversations that need to happen?” 

The goal was to address the root causes of the problem of people not having reliable housing. But how can a group of experts on producing transformational “moments” at meetings uncover innovative, long-term solutions to seemingly intractable problems in two days? We asked the hackathon facilitators for a behind-the-scenes look at how they approached the conversation.

Related: Can Hospitality Jobs Cure Homelessness?

Q: What did you expect?

JM: The idea of tackling this topic was almost crippling. Three months prior to the event, we were overwhelmed with the amount of data and sensitivity of the topic. We were asking, “What did we get ourselves into?” We focused on the fact that we were just the facilitators and were trying to create the best meeting-of-the-minds possible to start dialogue.

DK: There was so much potential, and it was unfamiliar territory, but we reminded ourselves that beautiful chaos reigns in a hackathon. We knew we couldn’t solve homelessness in two days, but we pivoted to addressing how the industry can prevent or decrease homelessness and catch people who are vulnerable. We focused on getting the right people in the room as mentors to support the discussion. 

2019 PCMA EduCon participants join the Skid Row Running Club in Los Angeles on June 26. Photo by Jacob Slaton Photography. Q: How did you determine who the mentors would be?

JM: PCMA was instrumental in getting William Thomson, founder of Gallus Events in Barcelona, Spain, and Illah Schalles, program director of Back on My Feet Greater Los Angeles, a nonprofit that uses running as a way to combat homelessness.

We recruited the sock philanthropy company Bombas and they brought Josh Dean, co-founder of Human.nyc, a nonprofit that works to connect the street homeless in New York City to housing. Then, I reconnected with a college friend who is an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Los Angeles. I think we struck gold. 

The highlight was how much knowledge was shared. The mentors helped to “right-size” the facts because homelessness is not always the face that is on the poster.

DK: I learned that a lot of the things I thought were wrong. Homelessness happens for a variety of reasons. We were concerned, in today’s politically divided world, that it would get political and it was not a problem. The mentors guided the conversations in a constructive direction. 

JM: There were some opposing thoughts on the teams. Some said money is not going to solve anything and expressed frustration with a lack of progress when so much has been spent, but the mentors were able to turn that around to the root causes. 

The 5K run in the morning with Skid Row Running Club was a chance for people to see the problem up-close—even though the route didn’t actually include skid row. 

Q: How did the preparation/explanation of the mission differ from your instructions when the challenge is a little smaller?

JM: Before the volunteer teams arrived, we sent them home work so they had background. We didn’t want to require too much, because we wanted them to come with their own lens. 

DK: We had more people associated with the destination, in addition to planners. They really wanted to know how it would impact their destination. 

JM: We had to balance the discussion because the exercise was also a lesson in how to hold a hackathon so that people get an understanding of the process and whether they wanted to bring that method back to their destinations. 

Q: Were you surprised by the solutions?

DK: Not shocked. There was definitely a focus on advocacy. In previous hacks, there was money on the line. This time with the award going to the nonprofits, the groups were more collaborative and relaxed, moving inside and outside, not hiding their white boards. The venue, JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live, was perfect. 

JM: No one went to the low hanging fruit of how to use excess food at banquets. It was more geared toward advocacy or prevention. 

DK: The other huge difference was that we waited a day between when the brainstorming ended and making the final pitches, so we had them do a trial run and get feedback. That gave the teams a chance to sharpen their short presentations, so it was even better. Plus, this time the audience was the third judge, since they could vote. 

More A Masterclass in storytelling from PCMA EduCon

Q: Why did the winning team win?

JM: They proposed serving those who serve us—a topic that really hit home. A lot of people in the hospitality industry live paycheck to paycheck. By tapping into the power of U.S. Travel Association, they proposed a path to making this an even better industry to work in. 

The other team that got a lot of plaudits was IMPACT, (Impathetic Meeting Professionals Act). groups want to do something to help when they go to a city, but often there is no way to find the right cause. Their solution was to build an app to get philanthropic organizations in front of planners.

Q: How did the sock donation come about?

JM: We knew we wanted Bomba involved when we found out this was going to be the topic, and we convinced them to come and donate 50 socks to the participants and attend. But at the end, they said they were so impressed by the experience that they offered to donate 5,000 socks to the cause of the winning team’s choice. That still touches me so much. We were left speechless. 

Q: Where does this lead?

JM: To be continued. I hope it is explored more at PCMA Convening Leaders in San Francisco in January.

DK: I think this is a movement in need of a champion. 

Q: What do you hope people take away from this experience? 

JM: Don’t wait. Don’t wait for someone to organize something. Even if you go back and change one thing in your life to impact homelessness in your community, that will be more than what is being done today. While we are going to try to rally around this as an industry, don’t wait. Do something now. 

DK: I am a dreamer who hopes the whole will be more than the sum of its parts. I hope there is an opportunity to band together and do something bigger, but Jamie is right. Don’t wait for that. 

We hope to publish these findings and encourage planners to execute on all these ideas. 

The post How a Homelessness Hack Moved Beyond the Cliche appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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A June 25 Hackathon asked participants to find a solution for the unsheltered homeless issue. Photo by Jacob Slaton Photography.

PCMA EduCon planners set the lofty goal of hacking homelessness at their June event in Las Vegas. To address the complex issue of helping the unsheltered—a topic that touches meetings in cities across the world—President and CEO Sherrif Karmat brought in Jamie Murdock, vice president of sales at Experient, and Donna Kastner, founder of Retirepreneur, who have been leading “hackathons” to facilitate brainstorming teams on topics related to the industry—but usually not issues quite as big and complicated as this one.

Karamat saw the topic as a perfect fit with PCMA’s Giving Good program, which allows event organizers to help local causes in host cities. “We want to take the learnings to a broader community,” he said after the winner was revealed. 

“We can’t hide our issues or sweep them under the rug. We have had events move out of cities because of homelessness,” he said. “There is no blame, but we need to help these people instead of avoiding the problem. If we aren’t there, how can we have the real, difficult conversations that need to happen?” 

The goal was to address the root causes of the problem of people not having reliable housing. But how can a group of experts on producing transformational “moments” at meetings uncover innovative, long-term solutions to seemingly intractable problems in two days? We asked the hackathon facilitators for a behind-the-scenes look at how they approached the conversation.

Related: Can Hospitality Jobs Cure Homelessness?

Q: What did you expect?

JM: The idea of tackling this topic was almost crippling. Three months prior to the event, we were overwhelmed with the amount of data and sensitivity of the topic. We were asking, “What did we get ourselves into?” We focused on the fact that we were just the facilitators and were trying to create the best meeting-of-the-minds possible to start dialogue.

DK: There was so much potential, and it was unfamiliar territory, but we reminded ourselves that beautiful chaos reigns in a hackathon. We knew we couldn’t solve homelessness in two days, but we pivoted to addressing how the industry can prevent or decrease homelessness and catch people who are vulnerable. We focused on getting the right people in the room as mentors to support the discussion. 

2019 PCMA EduCon participants join the Skid Row Running Club in Los Angeles on June 26. Photo by Jacob Slaton Photography. Q: How did you determine who the mentors would be?

JM: PCMA was instrumental in getting William Thomson, founder of Gallus Events in Barcelona, Spain, and Illah Schalles, program director of Back on My Feet Greater Los Angeles, a nonprofit that uses running as a way to combat homelessness.

We recruited the sock philanthropy company Bombas and they brought Josh Dean, co-founder of Human.nyc, a nonprofit that works to connect the street homeless in New York City to housing. Then, I reconnected with a college friend who is an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Los Angeles. I think we struck gold. 

The highlight was how much knowledge was shared. The mentors helped to “right-size” the facts because homelessness is not always the face that is on the poster.

DK: I learned that a lot of the things I thought were wrong. Homelessness happens for a variety of reasons. We were concerned, in today’s politically divided world, that it would get political and it was not a problem. The mentors guided the conversations in a constructive direction. 

JM: There were some opposing thoughts on the teams. Some said money is not going to solve anything and expressed frustration with a lack of progress when so much has been spent, but the mentors were able to turn that around to the root causes. 

The 5K run in the morning with Skid Row Running Club was a chance for people to see the problem up-close—even though the route didn’t actually include skid row. 

Q: How did the preparation/explanation of the mission differ from your instructions when the challenge is a little smaller?

JM: Before the volunteer teams arrived, we sent them home work so they had background. We didn’t want to require too much, because we wanted them to come with their own lens. 

DK: We had more people associated with the destination, in addition to planners. They really wanted to know how it would impact their destination. 

JM: We had to balance the discussion because the exercise was also a lesson in how to hold a hackathon so that people get an understanding of the process and whether they wanted to bring that method back to their destinations. 

Q: Were you surprised by the solutions?

DK: Not shocked. There was definitely a focus on advocacy. In previous hacks, there was money on the line. This time with the award going to the nonprofits, the groups were more collaborative and relaxed, moving inside and outside, not hiding their white boards. The venue, JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live, was perfect. 

JM: No one went to the low hanging fruit of how to use excess food at banquets. It was more geared toward advocacy or prevention. 

DK: The other huge difference was that we waited a day between when the brainstorming ended and making the final pitches, so we had them do a trial run and get feedback. That gave the teams a chance to sharpen their short presentations, so it was even better. Plus, this time the audience was the third judge, since they could vote. 

More A Masterclass in storytelling from PCMA EduCon

Q: Why did the winning team win?

JM: They proposed serving those who serve us—a topic that really hit home. A lot of people in the hospitality industry live paycheck to paycheck. By tapping into the power of U.S. Travel Association, they proposed a path to making this an even better industry to work in. 

The other team that got a lot of plaudits was IMPACT, (Impathetic Meeting Professionals Act). groups want to do something to help when they go to a city, but often there is no way to find the right cause. Their solution was to build an app to get philanthropic organizations in front of planners.

Q: How did the sock donation come about?

JM: We knew we wanted Bomba involved when we found out this was going to be the topic, and we convinced them to come and donate 50 socks to the participants and attend. But at the end, they said they were so impressed by the experience that they offered to donate 5,000 socks to the cause of the winning team’s choice. That still touches me so much. We were left speechless. 

Q: Where does this lead?

JM: To be continued. I hope it is explored more at PCMA Convening Leaders in San Francisco in January.

DK: I think this is a movement in need of a champion. 

Q: What do you hope people take away from this experience? 

JM: Don’t wait. Don’t wait for someone to organize something. Even if you go back and change one thing in your life to impact homelessness in your community, that will be more than what is being done today. While we are going to try to rally around this as an industry, don’t wait. Do something now. 

DK: I am a dreamer who hopes the whole will be more than the sum of its parts. I hope there is an opportunity to band together and do something bigger, but Jamie is right. Don’t wait for that. 

We hope to publish these findings and encourage planners to execute on all these ideas. 

The post How a Homelessness Hack Moved Beyond the Cliche appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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With recent news of Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry program being ‘vulnerable to exploitation,’ we have zoomed in on the issue and explored the use of the Global Entry program for meeting professionals and attendees. Global Entry is a United States CBP program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States and other countries. We reached out to Global DMC Partners President Catherine Chaulet to talk about Global Entry for international travelers.

Chaulet says that global meetings are a must for companies with global footprints and international travel is a great way to incentivize employees (especially millennials). With the point of international travel being to explore and experience a new destination and culture, people want to spend as little time as possible in the process of getting there. This is where Global Entry comes in: Think of how many croissants you can eat with an extra hour or two in Paris because you skipped the customs line!

More: Top 10 International Cities: Finding the Right Recipe

While not all clients are yet a part of the Global Entry program, Chaulet states that some are and, “the more international the footprint, the more we see corporations promoting [Global Entry] internally.” The significance of skipping customs lines through Global Entry programs extends not only to saving time and arriving at destinations more quickly, but also to lowering stress and simplifying the overall travel experience.

More: Stuck at Customs? No Problem

The current significance of Global Entry in the news involves a report made by the Inspector General in June, stating that the “Global Entry Program [does] not always prevent ineligible and potentially high-risk Global Entry members from obtaining expedited entry into the United States.” This report was acknowledged and responded to by U.S. CBP, who are working with U.S. Homeland Security to ensure the program remains secure and efficient. While this audit should not affect so-called low-risk travelers, it speaks to the integrity of the program and reminds us of the usefulness of Global Entry for planners and attendees who wish to spend more time at meetings or exploring new cities and less time in a customs queue.

The post Global Entry: Audits and Awareness appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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