IMEX America 2012 begins in Las Vegas. Courtesy image

Opening the second annual IMEX America with Smart Monday – powered by MPI – this morning, Ray Bloom, Chairman of the IMEX Group, stated that attendees “would not lack for inspiration or a sense of value” during the day-long program. This proved true as close to 1,000 participants dove into an 8-hour line up of free education sessions, brainstorms and deep dives intended to expand their personal and professional development and effectiveness.

The day began with an eye-opening keynote in the famous “Venetian Showroom Theatre” at the Venetian®|The Palazzo®, sponsored by Loews Hotels, featuring Debra Benton author of eight books and acclaimed executive consultant. In a highly engaging and personal style, Benton challenged attendees to think, act and relate in fresh ways that project not only their own sense of confidence and contribution but also build a positive feeling in others. This, she says, is the true hallmark of great leadership and it’s interacting at a human-to-human vs. a role-to-role level with others that is paramount to true success in business and in life.

Following the keynote, Smart Monday host Cindy D’Aoust, COO and interim CEO of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), and her team, offered attendees a strong program of learning and networking including three rounds of hour-long concurrent knowledge sessions. These sessions zeroed in on hot topics ranging from technology tools, Strategic Meetings Management Programs (SMMP) and social media to the impact of CSR on delegates, the future of meetings, and participant driven incentive travel delivered by Site Global.

Included in this was a telling case study session introduced by Kevin Iwamoto of StarCite and featuring Paul Wakelin of IBM. They shared the technology giant’s road to a global, consistent and centralized events framework that allows them to best leverage their meetings and events spend.

Another session, led by Mariela McIlwraith of Meeting Change, Katherine Manfredi of Conference Partners Inc. and John Chen, of Geoteaming encouraged attendees to get into play-mode by exploring event gamification. Through this technique, they demonstrated how games encourage risk -taking by meeting delegates and quickly build community and collaboration, as well as, boost the education and networking value.

As an added and highly customized benefit to Smart Monday, attendees were also free to choose between three, 3-hour Personal Development Deep Dives majoring on assertiveness, leadership skills or tech tools; or get involved in a daylong CEM Professional Designation Learning Program provided by IAEE.

During the day a group of participants also chose to go off site for a few hours and roll up their sleeves with a real-time CSR activity hosted by Clean the World at their Las Vegas Recycling Operations Center. This unique event, sponsored by the Sands Meetings®, allowed participants to learn what happens to discarded hotel soap and bottled amenities, and to help with sorting bottles for recycling and creating hygiene kits. All the amenities will be donated to two local community projects in Las Vegas – The Shade Tree and Opportunity Village as part of IMEX America’s sustainability program.

Following this action-packed day of learning and best practices, it was then time to mix and mingle with three evening events. These included MPI’s Smart Monday Evening Planner Reception, sponsored by Tourism Toronto; the IMEX America Association Evening reception, sponsored by the Sands Meetings® (and following on from Association Focus), as well as Site Nite North America at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.