by Sarah J.F. Braley | April 23, 2018
IACC, formerly the International Association of Conference Centres, welcomed a record 293 industry professionals - including 31 local meeting planners - to its annual Americas Connect meeting. The three-day event was held last week at two IACC member properties, the Chubb Hotel & Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, Pa., and the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
One of the main items on the agenda was the yearly Copper Skillet competition, pitting three seasoned and two junior (under age 30) chefs in a 45-minute Iron Chef-style cooking competition. Working with three surprise proteins (duck breast, skate wing and bacon) and a number of other ingredients, Brian Wagner from the Chauncey Hotel & Conference Center and Leanna Higgs of Wyboston Lakes in Bedfordshire, U.K., emerged as the senior and junior winners, respectively. Spectators were bused from the Chubb center to the Franklin Institute for lunch and the contest, followed by an afternoon of education including the Great Food and Beverage Debate, a panel featuring the Copper Skillet judges. A mystery culinary tour with wine-and-food expert Brian Freedman was held at the Olde Bar, once the famous Bookbinders restaurant, where a drink-and-small-bites tasting was begun with some older white wines -- from 2012 -- a trend Freedman said is picking up.
 
The mix of education, which is mostly geared to helping IACC members market their centers to meeting planners, included a breakout on understanding the buying habits of Latin American planners with Yanet Gavira, hosted-buyer manager for the IBTM Americas industry show, which will be held in Mexico City, Sept. 5-6, 2018. The closing general session, led by facilitator Mike Van Der Vijver of MindMeeting, featured the Solution Room model of peer learning: Each participant at a six-person table had 15 minutes to present a problem and have the other five suggest ways to tackle it. At one table, the issues ranged from work/life balance to converting short-term workers into long-term employees, making cold calling more effective and marketing a property with "resort" in its name to pharmaceutical companies.
 
IACC's annual European conference, the Knowledge Festival, will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, Oct. 5-7 at the Dolce CampoReal. IACC represents 350 global members whose facilities meet its stringent Quality Standards and agree to a code of ethics.