You know how you see a kid at the fair, little arms wrapped around those huge prize stuffed panda bears, filled with such glee? That’s how I feel when I try to encompass all the news, networking, education, connections, business and more from WEC 2011 in Orlando. With the new rules of engagement in full effect, our community embraced the energy and created an experience that people are still buzzing about.
Let’s get a few statistics out of the way first:
- More than 3,500 Hosted Buyer appointments with 225 participating supplier companies
- 6,579 unique visitors to the WEC Live Online experience
- A #WEC11 twitter transcript that is nearly 250 two-sided pages long
- 55 participants in the Clean the World CSR project alone (seven total projects)
Whew! That’s a lot said, especially in three days. The graciousness and professionalism of Orlando’s hospitality industry, the outstanding displays and culinary delights on show during the Epcot Alive! Opening Reception at Walt Disney World, rocking Closing festivities at Universal Studios & Hard Rock and the strength of the professional development and business opportunities presented at the Orange County Convention Center left attendees feeling empowered to enact what they learned in their offices and their lives.
There are far too many favorites to properly list but several speakers inspired attendees, leading them to share the tidbits and quotes that resounded from presentations both on-site and online. Simon Sinek, the opening general session speaker, celebrated the importance of meeting professionals as the last line of defense in bringing people together in an increasingly digital world, and led attendees in questioning their personal “why” to bring clarity to their actions.
Kathleen Madigan’s standup routine during the St. Louis (WEC 2012 host city) luncheon brought laughs and had the crowd excited about next year’s event. On Tuesday, Joe Calloway and Kelly Cutrone enjoyed chemistry onstage during closing general session, leading to long lines at their book signings and a packed house at Kelly’s community Q&A session.
The HIVE fulfilled the vision of being the epicenter of meeting technology and social media, with Tech Shootouts that enlightened those in search of solutions for meetings and events and starting conversations on social media inclusion best practice. And if anyone knows the identity of the Ghost of WEC11, who seemed to frequent the HIVE, let us know (seriously, best kept secret of the conference).
Blog posts have a limited length before the mind becomes overwhelmed so I welcome readers to leave their own impressions from WEC in the comments. What was your favorite session/speaker? What kind of business have you generated? What session impacted you the most? Even more importantly, go and experience anew (or for the first time) dozens of the sessions from WEC 2011.