by Michael J. Shapiro | January 10, 2017
Convening Leaders, the annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association, kicked off Sunday night in Austin, Texas. Although official attendance numbers won't be announced until next week, the preliminary tally indicates a record show for the organization. "But it's never about the numbers," said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO. "It's about the experience, the quality of the education and the people here."

At a press conference, PCMA execs offered an overview of the association's accomplishments and this year's event. Highlights include

  • PCMA now has approximately 6,800 members, the most the organization has ever had. In addition to the membership efforts, however, the organization actively is looking to engage other business-event professionals around the globe via subscription models. To enhance the association's relevance on a global basis, PCMA is leveraging local expertise and forming alliances in various regions. New regional advisory boards have been formed for the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions, and PCMA has named Luca Favetta as its first EMEA business director. PCMA also is partnering with the International Organization of Professional Conference Organizers and the International Pharmaceutical Congress Advisory Association
  • The PCMA Education Foundation had a record fundraising year and was able to offer 73 scholarships in 2016, up from 59 the previous year
  • PCMA's Giving Good program, a library of community-service activities that can be searched by destination, is live at There currently are 36 activities catalogued in the portal, with four to be added shortly. The portal streamlines the process of adding community and social-responsibility projects to an event, and will allow for more such projects to be implemented and better tracked -- both by planners and the destinations.
  • The former Virtual Edge Institute, now known as the Digital Experience Institute, continues to offer the only certificate program for digital-event organization. There are now more than 200 professionals certified with the DES designation.
  • Mary Pat Heftman, chair-elect of PCMA and executive vice president of convention and strategic alliances for the National Restaurant Association, outlined three primary goals for the coming year: to develop a new strategic plan for the organization, focus on collaboration and alliances with organizations around the globe, and support and align more closely with the Education Foundation to help it achieve fundraising goals

Convening Leaders continues through Wednesday, Jan. 11.