As Sherrif Karamat takes the reins of PCMA following the resignation of Deborah Sexton, digital data collection and its utilization to ignite engagement and dialogue between both members and untapped segments of the meetings industry will become the driving force to fuel the future of the association.

“[It starts] with data, and that means being a data-centric organization, and not data in the sense of just analytics, but truly gleaning meaningful insights from that data so that we are better able to serve, better able to engage our members, our audiences worldwide. That will be a very key priority for me as we go down this road,” Karamat said during the closing press conference at Convening Leaders 2018.

“If you think of PCMA, think of it as a platform [where you can choose how] you want to engage with us and on your terms—that’s how you should think of [the organization]” he continued, adding that following research PCMA recently conducted in Montreal, a key strategy moving forward will be to identify and engage people who may work in or have influence in the meetings and events industry but may not yet represent the traditional PCMA membership profile. “There were more people that were in the events industry, [potential members] that we didn’t identify.

“There’s a huge sector of our industry that doesn't have access to these tools [that PCMA provides],” Karamat added. “We just don’t know who they are … It’s all about behavior and psychographic information, and not demographic information.

"We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better," he concluded.

[Related Content: PCMA Convening Leaders 2018 Interview With Sherrif Karamat]

Claire Smith, chair of PCMA’s Board of Directors and vice president of sales and marketing for the Vancouver Convention Centre, said the association plans to leverage digital engagement, among other methods, to greatly increase its audience.

“PCMA currently has an audience of about 50,000 business and event professionals globally, and it’s our goal to really expand that audience to over 500,000,” she said. “We see so many people in this industry that don’t necessarily self-identify to what we do, and we think a community with more points of view and more voices will really, really build on an enriched educational opportunity for all of us.”

Even relatively simple technology utilized on-site at Convening Leaders this year will help amplify the association’s collection of attendee behavior patterns and thus impact future events.

As an example, David Peckinpaugh, chair of the PCMA Foundation and president of Maritz Global Events, pointed to the beacons affixed to the badges of Convening Leaders attendees, which is giving the association a wealth of data on their behavior during the course of the annual event.

“How do you interpret that and how does that impact the design of next year’s conference?” Peckinpaugh asked. “I think this is going to help identify these personas and amplify that next year. It really is about driving engagement, driving and bringing humanity into events, and making sure we tell those stories and amplify those stories, so that’s going to be our focus [for the association] in 2018.”

Karamat singled out the success capturing a digital audience for Convening Leaders’ 2018 edition, saying that preliminary data points to nearly 2,000 people accessing 2018 Convening Leaders content virtually.

Another example comes from PCMA’s Visionary Awards, which was physically held in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2017, but attracted an online audience of 5,500 and generated approximately 1 million views.

“That was powerful—that was engagement,” Karamat said.

[Related Content: PCMA Convening Leaders 2018 Event Gallery]