by Michael J. Shapiro | February 24, 2017
The Professional Convention Management Association has confirmed that January's Convening Leaders event attracted a record number of attendees for the organization's annual meeting. There were 4,175 delegates in Austin, Texas, in itself a record, plus nearly 1,500 virtual attendees who tuned in for Convening Leaders Live online. On top of that, 180 meeting professionals in Asia participated in a delayed rebroadcast of specific content chosen for that audience.
On-site attendees came from 45 countries, a significant increase over the 36 nations represented for the 2016 event in Vancouver, British Columbia. 
This year's event theme, "Designing ColLABoration," was seen in multiple learning labs on-site and was a focus of many of the keynotes and sessions. "Austin was the perfect destination to turn our lens toward the value of collaboration," noted PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton. "The contributions of Tom Noonan and Mark Tester's teams at the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and Austin Convention Center, as well as many of Austin's noted citizens, demonstrated the power of real-time collaboration to conference participants." (Sexton, it should be noted, was buzzing with excitement at the opening session after she was joined onstage by noted Austin citizen and surprise guest, actor Matthew McConaughey.)
The association gave back to the local community as well, with 130 attendees participating in PCMA's Hospitality Helping Hands project. The initiative benefitted Sammy's House, an Austin nonprofit agency for medically fragile and/or developmentally delayed children. Sponsor GES also presented a $25,000 check to the local Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.
PCMA's annual charity event, Party With a Purpose, sold out and raised more than $200,000 that will be used for industry scholarships, grants and research.
Next year's Convening Leaders is scheduled for Jan. 7-10, 2018, in Nashville.