April 16, 2014

GMIC 2014 Sustainable Meetings

Adrian Segar leads a keynote debrief on the opening day of the Sustainable Meetings Conference


This year’s Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) conference kicked off with an invigorating session featuring GMIC board member and Oracle VP Paul Salinger moderating a keynote panel on the theme of “The Value of Sustainability Across Brands, Organizations and Sectors.” The presenters included KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, CEO and founder of Sustainable Brands; Jenifer Willig, founder of Whole World Water; and Shawn Rosenmoss, senior environmental specialist with the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Issues presented covered how meeting planners can influence what an organization or company’s commitment to sustainable meetings means in a practical sense, and how telling the story of green initiatives can benefit them both through employee or attendee engagement and ROI.

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April 15, 2014

Spring Break for Adults


South Walton in Northwest Florida boasts 26 miles of sugar-white beaches and turquoise water, so meetings held in the area are always popular. The area has a number of signature events that make for after-meeting fun: The annual South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival, for example, runs April 24-27 this year, and features more than 800 wines from top winemakers in the world. The food isn’t too shabby either, and famed Chef Emeril Legasse (the 2013 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year) is slated to make a special appearance. Educational seminars and cooking exhibitions are also on the schedule, and entertainment by Nashville’s top songwriters–such as Dylan Altman and Kendell Marvel–round out the weekend.

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April 12, 2014

Glass in the Garden

2014-04-09 11.26.02

OK, gardeners: Can you identify the red plants in the photo above?

Actually, it’s a trick question, because the stalks are a series of glass sculptures by arguably the most noted glass artist of the last 40 years. You’ve probably seen Dale Chihuly’s work—perhaps hanging from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Vegas or at dozens of art museums around the United States.

You can also currently see his work amid the saguaro and succulents at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Chihuly in the Garden is on display through May 18. This is actually the second time that the garden has hosted a Chihuly installation, and it’s easy to see why both have been such successes. With the twists, turns and organic shapes of the glass, the artwork seems at home among the landscape of desert plantlife, sprouting up as naturally as an agave rosette. Touring the exhibition, you find yourself doing a series of double takes, questioning whether what you’re looking at is vegetable or mineral. Sometimes it’s only the vibrant colors of the glass that clue you in—although plenty of the garden’s specimens are colorful in their own right.

That is, of course, the point of the exhibit. The plants provide an captivating setting for the exhibition, while the glass serves as a reminder of the natural artistry of the garden’s “permanent collection.”

The Desert Botanical Garden is a short 10 minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and is connected by bus to the region’s light rail system. It is located within Papago Park, a popular protected area of stunning rock formations that offers picnic sites, hiking trails and scenic outlooks. In addition, the center offers a number of meeting venues, including an auditorium, amphitheater, conference room and classrooms. (During my visit, the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study was having a conference on the site.) Private groups can book the facilities and even take advantage of such special activities as sundown yoga, tequila tastings and more.

Planners will also have an opportunity to see more of Chihuly’s work during the Smart Meeting Seattle. Following the event at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel on April 17, attendees have the option to tour the Chihuly Garden and Glass collection at Seattle Center. For more information, visit our events page.

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April 09, 2014

NYC in Springtime: Hyatt Union Square Specials

Urban Terrace Studio

Our one-day Smart Meeting in August takes place in New York City at Hyatt Union Square New York. We can’t wait–not only because NYC in the fall is the best and the Smart Meeting is always a fab experience, but also because the Hyatt Union Square is the newest hotel in that dynamic neighborhood in over a decade, and we’re eager to see it.

The area includes Union Square’s Greenmarket, organized by GrowNYC and consisting of dozens of local farmers, butchers and bakers. It takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. along the north and west sides of Union Square Park. Also nearby is Greenwich Village, with its arts, culture and great shopping.

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April 07, 2014

Monday Morning Inspiration from a Life Coach

Rhonda Britten

Beyond coffee, Monday mornings often call for a kick start—a dynamic shot of inspiration. Perhaps what you need is a pep talk from a life coach. Rhonda Britten is one of the most famous members of this growing profession, which is focused on helping clients develop and achieve personal goals, thanks to her stint as co-host of the daytime reality TV show Starting Over and guest appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Life coaches traffic in motivation and perspective, and Britten offers plenty of both in her books, blog posts, workshops and speaking sessions. In fact, she’ll be providing insight to attendees of the Smart Meeting Seattle on April 17 to get them primed for successful one-on-one appointments.

Britten’s Facebook timeline is filled with inspirational messages designed for sharing. Here is a sampling of recent images to get you ready to rush the field of life. Put us in, coach!

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April 02, 2014

The NCAA has a Ballroom Named in Honor of My Mentor!

Christine Grant, courtesy of

This blog is of special interest to women’s sports fans and anyone else who appreciates college athletics. While researching an upcoming story about Indianapolis for our May issue, I was very interested to learn more about the meeting space at the NCAA Hall of Champions and Conference Center. I knew the NCAA had moved to Indianapolis from Kansas more than a decade ago, but was unaware that the adjacent museum and meeting space was so expansive.

Most people are probably well aware of the namesakes for which the event spaces have been named. There’s the Pat Summit/John Wooden Room, the Theodore Roosevelt Room and the Jesse Owens Room.

Much to my surprise, the largest dedicated meeting room in the NCAA complex is the 5,351-square-foot Christine Grant Ballroom. If ever there was a woman who deserves to be recognized for her contributions to women’s sports and encouraging young women to pursue careers beyond the status quo, it’s Christine.

I met Christine in the late ’70s as a graduate student at University of Iowa. She was the women’s athletic director and I was in the women’s physical education master’s program studying sports communication. Christine really supported my career goal of being a sportswriter, almost willing me to make a difference of my own.

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March 31, 2014

Top 10 Reasons to Meet in Fort Worth, Texas

Sponsored post

Sundance Plaza in downtown Fort Worth, Texas,
celebrated its grand opening in November.

1. Sundance Square: The heart of Fort Worth, Sundance Square is home to the new Sundance Plaza, leading businesses, modern convention hotels, and a wide range of cultural and artistic venues.

2. Fort Worth Convention Center: With a convenient location near downtown hotels, restaurants and entertainment, and a wealth of state-of-the-art business technologies, the Fort Worth Convention Center is an ideal choice for meetings of any size.

3. Fort Worth Water Gardens: Take advantage of Fort Worth’s beautiful natural surroundings by holding your event at the spectacular outdoor events plaza of the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

4. Fort Worth Stockyards: Fort Worth’s Western heritage is on vibrant display in the historic Stockyards District. The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, a twice-daily cattle drive, the world’s largest honky-tonk and a veritable stampede of authentic hitching-post saloons all await you in Fort Worth.

5. Restaurants: We’re not all barbecue and Tex-Mex in Fort Worth. In addition to succulent steaks, righteous ribs and mouth-watering Mexican fare, you’ll find world-class flavors from around the globe, including sophisticated Italian dining and exotic Asian cuisine.

6. Cultural District: The Fort Worth Cultural District features five internationally acclaimed museums in a beautiful, park-like setting. The Fort Worth Botanic & Japanese Gardens, Will Rogers Memorial Center and Casa Manana Theatre border this beloved area.

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March 31, 2014

Bungee Jumping’s Tribal Roots

A boy jumps during the annual land-diving ritual on Pentecost Island in the South Pacific,
courtesy of


Bungee jumping has become popular around the globe, but it’s likely that few realize the origins of the activity can be traced back to a tale in which a woman hurls herself off a cliff to escape her abusive husband.

According to tribal legend on Pentecost Island in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, a woman climbed a banyan tree to escape the husband, who chased after her. She then jumped from the tree and he followed suit to catch her. The husband crashed into the ground and died, but the woman survived because she had cleverly tied liana vines around her ankles so that she wouldn’t plunge all the way to the ground.

The tale inspired Nagol (or N’gol), a land-diving ritual that has been practiced for centuries on Pentecost Island. The ritual is performed to help ensure a bountiful yam harvest, enhance the health and strength of divers, and serve as a rite of passage to manhood (only males are allowed to jump).

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March 30, 2014

Five Must-Haves for Speakers Who Want to Motivate the Crowd

Professional speaker Jeff Havens speaking with enthusiasm and like a normal person,
courtesy of Facebook


Jeff Havens is a keynote speaker and corporate trainer who addresses leadership, generational issues and other areas of professional development through a unique blend of content and entertainment. He has been a regular guest on Fox Business News and featured on CNBC, Businessweek and Bloomberg News. To read more from Jeff Havens, visit

 We’ve all endured terrible motivational presentations.  Think of that time you were in the audience at a conference and said to the person next to you, “If that guy says inner warrior one more time, I’m going to rush the stage.”

So if you’re the speaker, you want to be different.  You’d like to be awesome, in fact.  To be a great, memorable speaker, here are five things you absolutely must have:

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March 29, 2014

Green Meeting Conference Partners with Stop Hunger Now

College students pack meals at a Stop Hunger Now event, courtesy of


The GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference, hosted annually by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC), has partnered with Stop Hunger Now for a donation campaign with a goal of packaging 40,000 meals. GMIC’s annual event will be held April 15–17 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. During registration for the conference, attendees will be encouraged to donate an additional $5.25, which will provide 21 meals to those in need. GMIC is halfway to their goal through contributions made by Hartmann Studios and InVision. Conference attendees will be packaging the meals on Wednesday, April 16, during the Community and Social Responsibility Lunch and Activity.

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