Desktop Promotional Products with Style

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Originally posted by 4imprint

If you are looking for promotional products that customers can’t wait to get their hands on, take a look at these calendars, sticky notes and notebooks.Perpetual Block CalendarIf you plan to give your customers a calendar as a year-end gift, the Perpetual Block Calendar is a fresh alternative. Bold colors will draw attention to your brand.Perpetual Block Calendar l 123645 l Promotional Products from 4imprintThe playful design features the month at the base, while the cubes can be turned daily to display the date. The calendar is easy to assemble and perfect for a small space on a desk or shelf. And, its perpetual design means this promotional product can adorn a recipient’s desk year after year.

BicTM Sticky Spring Note

To combine a bit of fun with a traditional office product, try one of our new paper products, the Bic™ Sticky Spring Note. As its name implies, these notepads spring open like an accordion!

Bic Sticky Spring Note flat l 131869 l Promotional Products from 4imprintBic Sticky Spring Note l 131869 l Promotional Products from 4imprintThe die-cut comes in three other options—a star, heart and house

Coaster Desktop Calendar

Just like its name suggests, the Coaster Desktop Calendar does double-duty. Monthly calendars double as coasters while the coaster-holder stores pens and pencils.


Coaster Desktop Calendar l 123648 l Promotional Products from 4imprint

The calendars come in a variety of styles so you can personalize the gift according to recipients’ tastes. Choose from Tapestry (shown above), Craftsman, Watercolor and Craft Brew.

Sorbet Pocket Notebook with Curvy Stylus Pen

For a notebook customers will reach for again and again, try the Sorbet Pocket Notebook with Curvy Stylus Pen. Available in a range of bright colors, this 4imprint exclusive includes a customer-favorite, the Curvy Stylus Pen.

Sorbet Pocket Notebook with Curvy Stylus Pen l 125649 l Promotional Products from 4imprint

A cover pocket – inside and outside – makes it easy for the on-the-go user to stash must-have documents.

Vintage Calendar Cards

These vintage Calendar Cards will add a work of art to an office desk every month.

Calendar Cards Vintage l 129055 l Promotional Products from 4imprint

A small easel keeps the calendar propped up to bring style and fun to any workspace. The cards come with a decorative band for easy storage. (But, who would want to keep these beautiful vintage graphics hidden?)

As these promotional products show, bright colors and fresh looks can help you turn a useful promotional product into an unforgettable giveaway customers will reach for throughout the day.

SOURCE: Desktop Promotional Products with Style

Show Floor, Education and Networking: An All-Inclusive Tale of Expo! Expo!


By Jessica Finnerty, CEM; Manager, Meetings and Events, Auto Care Association

Last week, I wrapped up my annual expo. A year’s worth of work culminated in just a few short days. While the work was exhausting and strenuous, I would do this all over again in a heartbeat.  Fresh with ideas I am inspired to learn how to make improvements and create a better Auto Care Association expo for next year. What better way to learn cutting edge trends than by attending Expo! Expo! in Anaheim, California?


This will be my third year attending Expo! Expo! and let me tell you what you can expect – the best and the brightest; the new and exciting; the tried and true. From event technology to attendee acquisition and so much more, the expo floor is chock full of everything that an event planner could need to help make his/her show a success. Already, I have received meeting requests from industry leaders about products and services spanning the entirety of the industry. In addition to the meetings already on my agenda, I am excited to walk the show floor and discover new innovations that could be beneficial to me and my organization.


However, the show floor is only part of the Expo! Expo! value. The 2016 educational offerings address topics for all aspects of planner life. These sessions are critical, particularly to me, because unlike so many other sessions for event planners, these sessions focus primarily on the exhibition side rather than the meetings. I find more relevant content in these few days than I do throughout the rest of the year. Of particular interest this year is the MATSO agenda. The challenges for large-show organizers are different compared to organizers of smaller shows and it’s great to have the opportunity to collaborate with others who are in the same boat.


Of course, what is a conference without the networking? After all, isn’t the power of face-to-face interaction what we are selling? Getting the chance to meet and connect with so many industry professionals has been instrumental to my career because I can talk shop with other planners, or hear tales from the other side of the aisle. From the familiar faces at my local chapter event to the friendships that have yet to be made, I am looking forward to all of the interactions in just a few weeks.

Check out the 2016 Expo! Expo! Feature Networking Events!

My show is in the automotive sector and our tagline is “Ahead of the Curve” (see what we did there?). This is not only our mission statement, but our promise to both attendees and exhibitors alike – attend AAPEX to keep your business ahead.

Thanks to Expo! Expo!, I can keep MY business ahead of the curve, the competition and the expectations.


Expo! Expo!

David DuBois_cropped for WordPress

Originally published by Trade Show Executive, November 2016 Edition

We are only a few weeks away from Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Anaheim, California and I could not be more pleased with the program we have in store for attendees. With more than 70 education sessions on and off the show floor, great networking opportunities and social events, this year’s meeting is all about the experience of sharing information with colleagues and keeping our industry thriving.

This year’s show focuses on five key strategies that provide an “inside out” approach to the Expo! Expo! experience. We will offer show organizers inspiration and solutions that they can apply to their own events, which includes providing product/service providers the appropriate platform to educate on their unique offerings. Here is just a taste of what to expect at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in December.

2016 Expo Expo Banner 740x200

Interaction and Engagement

There is no denying the power of conducting business in a face-to-face setting. The connections made at exhibitions and events are all potential investments – at the end of the day, this is serious business! At the same time, we are not robots (at least not yet) and the ability to connect on a personal level with current and potential associates is an essential part of doing business. With this in mind, Expo! Expo! has integrated various tools of interaction and engagement such as mobile app beacon programs, crowd sourced content, a general session backstage tour, IAEE chapter meet-ups, networking events for young professionals and LGBTQ meet-ups.

Check out these Expo! Expo! Featured Networking Events


Whether you are a technophile or technophobe, Expo! Expo! has something for you, even beyond knowing what is available or what is new. What is your technology need? Are you interested in collecting big data? Tracking attendee behavior? Maximizing your marketing efforts?  Or, perhaps, your goal is to have attendees walk into your show and simply say, “oh wow!” The innovation is out there; quite often the challenge lies in deciphering the best approach to meet your objectives. That is when you take full advantage of Expo! Expo!’s Tech Center Showcase, Tech Start Up Pavilion, Beacons, New Product Showcase and Show Tech Partner Highlights.

Giving Back: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)


There is much information regarding the economic impact our industry has on its destinations. In fact, we are quite proud of the local revenue that exhibitions and events deliver. It is only natural to extend this positive corporate effect and contribute in a social sense to the local communities that host our meetings. For many years, Expo! Expo!’s Gift of Service has exercised local volunteerism and this year is no different. This year, we are working with the Orange County Family Justice Center. In addition, proceeds from the eighth annual Humanity Rocks: A Celebration with a Cause will be donated to the organization. Last year, we launched the IAEE Chapter Challenge that extended our CSR to a national level, with each chapter contributing to their local communities through various activities. They will be reporting their results in Anaheim.

Encouraging a Global Spirit and Community

By now you already know that the “I” in IAEE is not just a letter – it is a call to action. Expo! Expo!’s International Reception celebrates attendees who understand and embrace just how globally connected our industry is, and who are ready to take the power of face-to-face meetings to the next level. Our gracious host Visit Anaheim has welcoming programs in store, and Expo! Expo!’s concierge programs are ready to serve attendees at every turn.

Learning: Plan, Perform and Lead

As I mentioned in my September column, we have taken a very thorough approach to our education programs at Expo! Expo! We have meshed cutting-edge principles of neuroscience with good, old-fashioned industry experience to create an innovative array of learning opportunities for all levels of job experience and functions.


Expo! Expo! is a great opportunity to surround yourself with the best of the best in the exhibitions and events industry, and I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim at the “show for shows”!


David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO

CEM Faculty Spotlight on Steven Hacker, CAE, FASAE, CEM


Following a notable 40-year career as CEO of several non-profit associations, Steven Hacker, CAE, FASAE, CEM is now the Principal of Bravo Management Group, an organization that provides strategic leadership, governance, marketing and event planning expertise to associations and trade show organizers around the world.

IAEE sat down with Steven to discuss why he joined the exhibitions and events industry and how the CEM program has helped shape his future. Steven began his association management career in 1970 and became involved in the exhibitions industry when he was hired as IAEE’s CEO in 1991. Steven’s continued involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program stems from his personal involvement at IAEE and overseeing the development of the CEM program as it operates today.

I stepped down as IAEE’s CEO in 2012 and began teaching CEM courses that same year.

The 2017 CEM Learning Program course schedule is now available!

What was your most memorable experience from teaching?

There is no one memorable experience. Instead, I find that every time I present a CEM module, either face-to-face or online, I enjoy creating new relationships with students. The diversity of students, their very different reasons for studying the CEM program, and their unique personalities are enriching and energizing. I have met some really remarkable people thanks to the CEM program.

Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?

Overcome the common fear of failure. Students are hungry for teachers who are committed to the program and who are willing to help them through the program. Perfection is not an expectation of students of their teachers, only a sincere commitment to helping them master their CEM studies.

What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM courses?

Teaching CEM courses means that you need to constantly review the source materials, bring in outside resources, and keep your presentation techniques fresh and unique. I find that I have to prepare for each class by devoting three or four hours of preparation for each hour of presentation. I don’t mind doing this because it keeps my own knowledge fresh and contemporary. Things are always changing and teaching CEM courses is a great way to stay on top of things.

How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?

Teaching the CEM program has given me a very intimate understanding of the challenges that students face. We need to remember that everyone in a class is employed in a demanding full-time career and many are also primary care givers, parents, and have additional obligations. Helping students understand how to keep up with their CEM work load is as important as providing the necessary motivation and information that teaching requires.

CEM Salary Inforgraphic_Freeman

Are you involved with any other committees or boards with IAEE or another industry association?

I am still a serial volunteer. I am currently involved with other IAEE members and staff in several committees and task forces. I believe we grow every time we contribute to the group.

Join Steven at Expo! Expo! in Anaheim for his campfire session on IAEE’s Certified Exhibition Program (12/07/16) and The Lawyers Are In: Hospitality Industry Attorneys Roundtable on Thursday (12/08/16).


Wellness in the Workplace -Trends to Trust

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Originally published by 4imprint.

How workplace wellness programs make you healthy, wealthy and wise

In many workplaces, new trends in employee health and wellness are starting to pop up that break from the old standbys. It’s not limited to just a few wellness initiatives that make a company look good. There is a smorgasbord of different programs and services that can benefit employees and their families in many different ways. Even common wellness programs are being revamped to make them more exciting and worthwhile.

In this Blue Paper, we will take a look at how employee health and wellness programs help organizations and show how you can implement the latest trends in your workplace.

Why wellness at work works

Wellness in the workplace has real, lasting benefits. According to the 2016 AFLAC® Workforce Report, employee satisfaction increases when a company has a wellness program. And when your employees are happy, you’re likely going to be really happy. Why? Fast Company reports that happiness leads to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy people were 10 percent less productive.

Work and play in athleisure apparel

The combination of “athletic” and “leisure” makes it easy for employees to go from work to workout and back again.

But it’s not just the companies saying these things. Employees agree.

  • Those who took part in company-sponsored wellness programs reported more job satisfaction (80 percent) than those who did not (58 percent).
  • Workers enjoy wellness programs. Of those workers who reported being happy with their benefits package, 76 percent took part in a workplace wellness program.
  • If a company didn’t offer a wellness program, job satisfaction dipped to 57 percent, and less than half of employees (46 percent) were happy with their benefits package.

Wellness programs give back what you put into them

Wellness programs are a big plus for employees. But what about the employer? We know that productivity goes up when people are feeling good about themselves and the company. But how else does a keen focus on wellness help?

For starters, employees are generally healthier. A study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans looked at the value on investment (VOI) of wellness efforts in different organizations. It discovered that wellness programs led to reduced healthcare costs at 56 percent of the companies surveyed. Thirty-one percent had lower disability and workers’ compensation claims. Plus, over half had reduced absenteeism. You start putting those numbers together and the benefits are obvious. Need proof? Almost 40 percent of employers said that improved financials and growth were tied to workplace wellness initiatives.

Here are more incredible facts about the VOI of wellness in the workplace:

  • 42 percent noticed increased productivity
  • 33 percent showed an improvement in recruitment
  • 21 percent said turnover dropped

One-fifth of employers mentioned decreased turnover—that means those really good employees you want to keep likely will stick around. Other facts from the 2016 AFLAC Workforce Report showed that 52 percent of employees who didn’t use wellness programs were likely to begin a new job search. But only 46 percent of wellness program users were ready to look elsewhere. Six percent may not sound like a lot, but that’s three employees out of every 50 who are more likely to stay than to leave. And what if those three employees are some of your best?

Garden-variety workplace wellness programs

What kinds of wellness initiatives do you have in your workplace? What are other companies doing?

Many wellness programs are pretty similar. Check these out and see if you’ve been with an organization that offered any of the following:

  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Flu shots
  • Health risk screenings
  • Fitness challenges
  • Disease management
  • Health coaching
  • Healthy food choices
  • Weight management
  • Employee assistance

Often, when an organization looks at the benefits of wellness in the workplace, they look to programs that have had at least some success everywhere. The problem is that if every company offers a similar program, how do you differentiate yourself to both attract and retain top talent?

Let’s get trendy—Employee wellness ideas that make you stand out from the crowd

There’s a simple solution: Ask what different employee wellness ideas you can champion. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to the latest trends in workplace wellness—ones that go beyond the ordinary.

Tracking fun and fitness

A few years ago, the top fitness-tracking tech was a pedometer that clipped onto your pants and, if you were lucky, gave a reasonable estimate of how many steps you took in a day. Those are long gone, replaced by fancy, state-of-the-art fitness trackers. Some are purely functional, but others are designed to look like fancy jewelry or a stylish watch.

Not only do these devices count the steps you’ve taken (and far more accurately than their pedometer predecessors), but they can also follow your sleep, nutrition habits, heart rate and more. Some have a built-in GPS that can track exactly where you’ve been, great for runners and cyclists who want to know just how far they’ve traveled.

What else do these gadgets have going for them? Peer pressure. Social networking is a powerful accountability tool, letting people share their results with each other, pushing themselves along the wellness path. What’s more motivating than the “I can do that, too” feeling that comes from a friend sharing their morning run?

Tracking employees’ wellness with these devices is a fast-growing trend in the workplace. In fact, according to, Fitbit® offers group discounts on its trackers to encourage their use for workplace wellness. In some companies, employees track their fitness levels on trackers or web apps, report results, and earn rewards or prizes. The article featured several employers who use fitness tracking in wellness programs and reported positive results such as:

  • Greater workplace engagement and morale
  • Shared workout tips and healthy recipes
  • Decreased absenteeism and increased productivity
  • Decreased medical expenses

There are drawbacks, however. CIO says that few—likely a minority of employees—will be willing to participate and share results. Also, if companies are expecting to buy fitness trackers, they face a high up-front cost.

New ways to beat stress

According to the 2015 American Psychological Association Stress in America survey, 60 percent of Americans say work causes stress. Yet, one in five says they don’t do anything to relieve or manage stress. Long periods of feeling stressed out causes people to overeat or eat unhealthy food, lose sleep and become irritable. This, of course, negatively affects productivity at work.

Many workplaces have noticed the trend and implemented ways to help reduce and manage stress:

Quiet time: Corporate Wellness Magazine® says more companies are creating space during the day for employees to quietly journal or even daydream. Companies that lead stress-management efforts also are offering on-site meditation instruction.

Knitting: With all the emphasis on new workplace wellness trends and finding different ways to do things, sometimes old is new again. Knitting—using decidedly low-tech needles and yarn—is becoming a beneficial component of corporate wellness programs.

Fifty-three percent of consumers aged 18-34 who took part in the Craft Yarn Council’s 2014 Tracking Study knit or crochet daily. And for good reason! Corporate Wellness Magazine says there are many health benefits to knitting. The repetitive motions calm the mind and body, which helps create a more relaxed mood. The math involved in knitting patterns (counting rows and stitches) helps keep the mind sharp and focused. Because the benefits are numerous and noticeable, many companies are adding knitting and crocheting activities to their wellness education programs.

Office gardens: Once in a while, you’ll find a little Zen garden on a coworker’s desk. “It’s for de-stressing,” they’ll say. But what if there was a different type of garden with more benefits?

Getting people away from their desks and bringing them together for fresh air, sunshine and friendly cooperation, office gardens are growing in popularity for companies of all sizes, says Corporate Wellness Magazine.

They’re low-cost, requiring little more than space, sun, dirt and seeds. Steve Bates, gardener and manager of online editorial content at the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM)®, says that gardening “hits a lot of themes. Companies pay tons of money for off-site team-building things, or bring in high-paid, high-powered consultants. They accomplish the same things with seeds and a strip of land.”

Of course, gardens are fantastic sources for fresh flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables. Employees can take them home and share them with their families or support their local food pantry by donating their crop.

Athleisure for all

Combining “athletic” and “leisure,” this clothing trend trades buttoned-up pantsuits for buttoned-down comfort, yet still keeps a stylish corporate edge.

Athleisure apparel is like the cool kid everybody wants to hang out with, and its popularity is growing. Randi Dukoff, Partner/CEO of The Corporate Wellness Consulting Group, says athleisure “is becoming bigger than a trend.” And with the right combination of layers, it’s becoming easier for people to go from work to workout and back again.

These clothes are a brilliant combination of function and form that can be worn almost anywhere. Big-name designers, such as Tory Burch and Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Hudson, are creating fashion-forward athletic wear that not only looks great, but feels great all day long. According to the HR Daily Advisor®, feeling great in athleisure clothing translates into less stress for employees. Many companies are rewriting their dress codes to include athleisure where it fits into their policies and culture.

Feeling good by doing good

Looking at all these fantastic employee wellness ideas, everything is centered around the employee. But why can’t wellness in the workplace go beyond the walls of the company? As it turns out, that’s exactly what many companies are doing.

According to WebMD®, people who volunteer have stronger hearts and immune systems, and have less pain. One study by UnitedHealth Group® shows that 76 percent of people who volunteered within the past 12 months say they feel healthier, and that 94 percent say volunteering improves their mood.

Lately, more companies are tying charitable giving to fitness goals. One example is Target® which, in 2015, gave $1 million to the charity of choice for the team that won a month-long fitness challenge. For smaller businesses, a company charity challenge could be as simple as earning points for walking during lunch breaks, with the winning team choosing who receives the donation. Or participants earn points toward an award every time they volunteer with a community organization. The possibilities are endless.

Beyond physical health

So people are getting their bodies in shape. Fantastic! But some progressive companies are also investing in their employees’ minds. The Society for Human Resource Management says that many wellness initiatives now emphasize social and community networking and financial planning, including investment recommendations and prepping for college and retirement.

The bottom line on wellness programs at work

How do you know if your workplace wellness programs are improving the lives of your employees?

There’s a simple, one-word answer, according to Phil Daniels, co-founder of Healthiest Employers®. And that’s data. “Employers are auditing and evaluating claims data, biometric results, and pharmacy usage to feed predictive modeling forecasts on a near real-time basis, instead of waiting for the year-end snapshot,” Daniels says. “This allows a much more flexible approach to adjust spending throughout the year for the greatest impact and ROI.”

For a purely dollar-based return on investment (ROI), the RAND Corporation says overall ROI on wellness spending is about $1.50 for every $1 spent. But actually measuring ROI is an inexact science. Mike Tinney, CEO of Fitness Interactive Experience, told that you just might have to go with your gut. “You can measure health improvement through biometric screening,” Tinney says. “You can measure engagement and retention. You can count calories and steps. But a hard ROI is challenging, because your biggest expense relating to health is insurance, and many external factors influence the cost of insurance coverage. If you’re willing to buy into the notion that a healthier human being is more efficient, sick less often and happier, then investing in these programs for your employees (and yourself) makes a lot of sense.”

So go ahead and get excited about what wellness in the workplace can do for your organization. Do a little dance. Have a bowl of something tasty. And track it all digitally. Pretty soon, you may have an entire company full of healthier, more energized and extra-productive employees!

SOURCE: Wellness in the Workplace-Trends to Trust

Need a Break? Ideas for a Digital Detox


Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 4 November 2016

Feel like you’re sending even more email these days? You’re not just imagining it: Recent research from Adobe found that people report spending 17% more time checking email this year compared with last year.

In our “always-on” culture, we respond to emails after work, on weekends and on vacation. It’s not all bad — consider that you might be responding after hours because you dipped out to a lunchtime yoga class as part of the increased demand for work/life blend — but sometimes everyone can use a break. We all need uninterrupted time to read, relax or hang out with family and friends.

If you’re looking for new ways to establish boundaries at work, the following tips should help.

A Healthy Email Culture Has to Start at the Top

“The world has arrived at a place where instantaneous information and response is the norm, but is that the culture you want to embed in your workplace and team? How can managers continue to handle their administrative tasks at times that are convenient for them, and at the same time allow team members to unplug? One way is by writing emails when they provide you the work-life balance you want, then save them as a draft to be sent during work hours. Communicate with your team about your work style – and be equally clear of your expectations from the team. Reward a culture of balance, discuss time off activities, praise employees for being ‘unplugged,’ and respect the boundaries that you and your team set for an effective balance.” — Read more at SHRM.

Try an Email Break

“People are so plugged in that they are now taking frequent ‘email detoxes.’ Almost 45 percent reported attempting a self-imposed break from checking email. Tech workers were the most likely to report taking a detox: 66 percent versus 39 percent of non-tech industry respondents. The average email detox reportedly lasted 5.3 days, with the majority of people claiming a positive impact from the disconnect.” — Read more at The Business Journals.

Save Non-Urgent Messages for Later

“In terms of late-day emails, consider leaving them for the next day. Phone calls can go to voicemail, which you can check just to make sure that there’s nothing urgent. In those cases, you will respond accordingly. If the message is not urgent, resolve to take care of it the following day.” — Read more at SmartBrief.

Practice Spending Part of Your Day Tech-Free

“London-based life coach Carole Ann Rice believes that digital detoxes are something one needs to ease into. ‘In order to completely sever your dependency, it would be a good idea to first simply set small limits for each day. Be this during exercise time, your lunch break, or when out shopping, if you slowly eliminate technology from various parts of your day, your detox will be easier to stick at. Habitual rituals help us achieve our targets, but only if they are achievable themselves.’” — Read more at The Telegraph.

Set Your Own Boundaries, or No One Else Will

“Early on, [Tom Tierney, cofounder of Bridgespan, former CEO of the powerhouse global consulting firm Bain & Company, and author of the philanthropy guide Give Smart] understood that while he wanted to achieve financial and career success, his family came first. Based on this overarching value, and even while rising through the ranks at Bain to become its CEO, he did not work on weekends. Instead, he spent considerable time with his sons, coaching them both to the level of Eagle Scout. Eschewing work on the weekends…required discipline and an uncompromising ability to focus on what mattered most to him.” — Read more at Harvard Business Review.


CEM Faculty Spotlight on Michelle Monteferrante, CEM, CTA Regional Director of Business Planning & Event Execution, Freeman


Michelle Monteferrante, CEM, CTA is currently Director of Business Planning & Event Execution for Freeman, based at the Anaheim, California office. She received her B.S in Hospitality Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and began her career in the hotel field with a position at the Sheraton Corporation as a Corporate Trainee. This started a 10+ year career in various hotel locations and companies around the United States in sales management. After the hotel phase of her career, she moved back to Las Vegas to pursue a new career direction by working at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in event space sales. This position introduced her to the trade show industry when, a year later, she took a sales position at Freeman. Currently at Freeman, Michelle is part of a financial team that works on the top 250 accounts for our company. We focus on improving efficiencies and customer service.

IAEE recently spoke with Michelle about her experience in the exhibitions and events industry, as well as her involvement with the CEM Learning Program.

How long have you been in the industry and how did you become involved in it?
I have now been in the industry for more than 25 years. Both of my parents were in the hospitality industry, which led to my own involvement.

What drives your involvement with IAEE and the CEM Learning Program?
I strongly believe in our industry’s future and I want to give back to an industry that has given so much to me. This led to my desire to join the CEM Faculty a year ago. Michelle has served on the IAEE Southwest Chapter board for more than six years as director, treasurer, vice president, chairperson and now, past chairperson.

Are you ready to get started on your CEM? Click here for more info!

What was your most memorable experience from teaching?
Teaching 70 students in China who had a desire to learn was very memorable.

What are a few of the benefits of teaching CEM?
I truly enjoy meeting new people and hearing about other people’s different experiences. Being on the CEM Faculty also allows me to hone my public speaking skills, as well as share my experiences and what I have learned throughout the years with others.

How has the CEM designation helped you in your career?
I see the CEM designation as a symbol of commitment to our industry and to the craft.

CEM Salary Inforgraphic_Freeman

Do you have any advice for other CEMs who may want to start teaching?
It is very rewarding to teach and give back to our industry. If you have a passion for imparting your knowledge and experience to others, and feel comfortable speaking publicly, this is a great opportunity!

Making the Most of Your Expo! Expo! Experience: An Interview with Benjamin Rabe, CEM


With more than 70 education sessions on and off the show floor, over 265 exhibitors, and networking sessions primed for idea sharing,  Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition offers attendees a wealth of information they can take straight to their own exhibitions and events. Although there is no such thing as too much information, how do show organizers decide which new technologies and innovative solutions to apply when organizing their own unique experiences? Here, IAEE speaks with Benjamin Rabe, CEM, Events Director at SmithBucklin, who shares how he makes the most of the valuable information he takes away from Expo! Expo! each year.


IAEE: Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?

I have been an IAEE member for over 10 years now, and I have attended probably eight Expo! Expo! meetings so far. My number one reason for attending is the networking. It’s good to hear a bit of what people outside of SmithBucklin are doing with their events. Also, I enjoy the education sessions and just learning about new trends and topics that are being done by people other than my colleagues here.

Check out Expo! Expo! Featured Networking Opportunities

IAEE: Tell us a little about the shows you manage.

I manage four different teams here at SmithBucklin, and some of them organize multiple shows. For example, KeHE Distributors is a corporate client of ours who puts on three shows a year: the KeHE Summer Selling Show, KeHE Holiday Show and KeHE Natural Show. I oversee the team for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction in March as well as its Annual Conference in July. Then, I work on the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) Show as its exhibit director. The NAFEM Show is held every two years, and it is a large Top 100 trade show in terms of square footage. I also manage another smaller show.

IAEE: Given your experience, the sessions that caught your attention at last year’s Expo! Expo! were Innovative Floor Plans to Drive Engagement; When Data Met Strategy: A Love Story; and Beacon Gamification and Matchmaking. Were you able to extract key takeaways from each and apply them at your different events?

Yes! The innovative floor plan session definitely opened my eyes to new approaches to floor plan design. The facilitator covered over half a dozen different ways to approach floor plan design. I knew of a couple of them because we were already doing them, but it did help me to have an official name to some of the things we were doing so that I could use the right terms and technology when discussing how to innovate a redesign of a floor plan for the clients that I work with.

For example, with KeHE Distributors, they always had one pavilion toward the center of the show floor, which is what you would call the “central hub approach.” Next year, we are going to have five different “neighborhoods” throughout the show floor instead: a KeHE Kitchen, a Power Up Pavilion, an Entre Pavilion, a Fresh Pavilion – which we have never done before – and a Flavors of New Orleans Pavilion.

We are also working on how we are going to drive traffic and map out the attendee’s journey. We want attendees to visit all those different spots on the show floor, which was a strategy covered in that session. The concept of the “attendee journey” is hot and trendy right now.

Learn more about Expo! Expo! Education Sessions!


IAEE: With regards to the “attendee journey,” did you find that technology is going to play a huge role on how you create that journey? For example, will you be using iBeacons on your floor? If so, did you learn a lot from the Beacon Gamification and Matchmaking session to help integrate those two strategies – the floor plan design and beacons?

As a matter of fact, yes! We are going to be starting with one beacon in our registration area and are definitely exploring the idea for a couple of other events. I am applying this with both KeHE and NAFEM, so I am working with Marketing to incorporate it.

With KeHE, for example, we have done a lot of traditional marketing pieces such as the invitations to attend and the brochures, etc. But now, it’s really about working with how to connect everything. We must connect the dots from the invitation to branding the show at the hotel check-in, to moving it through the curb of the convention center all the way to the front door of the trade show floor, to the entire map of the show floor experience and, finally, the five places that we want every attendee to visit. Basically, we want attendees to connect when they go to each of those areas – not only to the show, but also to our brand – so that they want to come to our event next year. It’s an effective way of making our event more “sticky” so that it becomes a “can’t miss” event in the attendee’s mind.

For NAFEM, it is really important that what they see before the show – all the pre-show marketing and what’s popping up in attendees’ Facebook feeds and all the other social media – is also tying into the “wow” factor that we are planning to have in the lobby and leading all the way to the convention center. As soon as attendees get off the curb, the concept we want to convey is that this show is like no other show on earth. So while walking up the steps, attendees will feel they are coming up to this world that ties into all the marketing and pre-show promotion they’ve received. We want to portray this virtual world made out of food service equipment – an entire city or village that is all those pieces put together – that is our show brand.

IAEE: That is quite the concept!

Yes! You have to check out to see what I am talking about for this virtual world, but the marketing piece looks like the front of the Orange County Convention Center is made out of food service equipment. And, I want to stress that this is a much higher and more elevated thought process than “oh well, let’s design a pretty sign” and then not have it connect to that registration brochure. We have truly integrated what we want attendees to feel, think and do, after they get a message from us or hear from us.

I would say, from the perspective of having attended the sessions at Expo! Expo!, that the information I took away really helped my team to engage in the dialogue needed with our counterparts in the marketing and advertising departments to realize our design vision, and successfully integrate all the components.

IAEE: One of today’s big trends is augmented reality and virtual reality. And, from a best practice and show manager’s perspective, how it will change the exhibition floor. Questions arise as to what the show floor will look like 5, 10 and 15 years down the road, and whether there will still be a need for a physical experience on the trade show floor. Is this a topic of discussion at SmithBucklin?

It is, but I think it all does come back to the power of face-to-face interaction and the networking. In our marketing messaging to attendees, we focus on the education and the new products/solutions that they are coming to see and touch. We also talk about the networking but attendees need those two things first, because that’s what they will use to convince their boss or supervisor that the company should support their coming to the event. Networking will also play into the equation, because it still is one of the top three reasons cited in research as to why people attend events. Still, you can’t state that as your number one reason when you go to your boss’ office.

IAEE: Another hot trend is data analytics – whether a show is collecting the right data and how to use it. If you do get the right data, how do you analyze it? Organizations with smaller staff may not have the resources to devote to data analysis, so how does SmithBucklin use data to drive attendee experiences?

With some of our trend pavilions, for example, we look at not only the results from the survey data, but also the badge scanning in those pavilions to see who checked in and who clicked through the mobile app to look something up. We then look at it how many tips we are getting and how they relate to survey results. We look at qualitative and quantitative feedback to decide if this is something that we should continue to do, tweak or change. We bring all this to the debriefing of the strategic review meeting because sometimes we see that ‘Wow, we spent all this time and energy on this one pavilion, but only 10% of the people went there.’ and sometimes, we’re thrilled that our ideas and hard work paid off just as we planned.

The When Data Met Strategy: A Love Story session really helped me understand how to create a data road map, and evaluate all the different spots you get your data from. Then, you must think your way through this process to decide what end result you want to get to. In my case, I have used that entire “road map thought process” to map out a new process for us to collect all our internal data for our meeting statistics and then get all our buying power.

We had a lot of different sources until I started to put everything together on a piece of paper. I realized we didn’t have a central place to collect it all, so this past year I worked with our IT department to create our own proprietary system to collect all the data from all of our different show leads and event leads, and then to collect all the data post-event or to capture and report all the business that we are doing. This is definitely something that we need to do in order to collect the data, analyze it, and formulate dashboards so that we are able to report it quarterly to our senior leadership. We are doing this with all our clients.

IAEE: It sounds like last year’s Expo! Expo! led to quite a few breakthrough ideas and practices that have taken you down some interesting new roads this year. Will you be attending this year’s meeting in Anaheim?

Absolutely; I’ve already got my eye on sessions that I plan to attend and look forward to hearing what others are doing. I will definitely be in Anaheim!


Social Media at Work: Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons?


Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 21 October.

Truth: Social media at work is an integral part of many of your employees’ days.

According to a Pew research report, employees are using social media at work for a wide variety of reasons, both professional and non-job related — a combined 61 percent said they use social media to “take a mental break from their job” or “connect with friends and family while at work,” while a combined 44 percent said they use it to “make or support professional connections” or “get information that helps them solve problems at work.”

And all those numbers might be blown away if and when the new Workplace by Facebook takes off.

Savvy companies know that allowing social media at work is a smart way to engage and attract employees, and part of the “work-life” blend that all age groups, but especially millennials, crave.

But when is it too much? How can employers allow the benefits of social media in the workplace while still maintaining some control?

Benefits of Social Media at Work Outweigh the Risks

“Employee morale may suffer if the workplace is seen as being too restrictive [on social media use]. A ban, especially if accompanied by the blocking of social media sites, tells employees that you do not trust them to monitor their own time and productivity. Disallowing social media at work can take away important opportunities for employees to promote the organization and network in ways that can help the company. Social media also acts as a way for the employee to grow their network and stay connected in the industry — which could help the organization.” —Read more at HR Daily Advisor.

Employees’ Posts Paint Your Company in a Positive Light

“Employee social advocacy programs, which encourage staff to share updates about the business on their own social media accounts, have grown by 191% since 2013 and are due to take off in the year ahead. When done right, the payoff can be impressive; companies not only expand their social media reach dramatically, they also get measurably better results. Content shared by employees, by one recent measure, gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.” —Read more at Fast Company.

Finding the Balance Between Productive Use and ‘Time Theft’

“‘When evaluating social media usage at work, the financial impact is astonishing,’ says Tisha Danehl, vice president at Ajilon. ‘Social media is here to stay and mobile platforms are only getting smarter, so employers must establish clear policies in order to keep employees productive and engaged at the office.’ Danehl’s comments certainly represents the traditional philosophy on workplace management, in which employers impose strict rules on supposed ‘time theft.’ However, many companies, particularly in the tech economy, have eschewed such restrictions out of the belief that allowing employees the discretion to take breaks from work will make them happier and more productive.” —Read more at

Crafting a Common Sense Social Media Policy

“‘You will want to cover two main areas in your policy: how employees are using their own social media accounts and how your company is using social media). There are countless topics you could include in a social media policy, so it’s key that you build a guide based on your top priorities. Additionally, you need to recognize that this will be a live document and will never be 100 percent complete. With new social media platforms and features being introduced regularly, a small business’ social media policy will need to adapt to these changes.” —Read more at Hootsuite.

One of the Key Aspects of a Social Media Policy: Who Can Share What

“[M]ake sure your employees know who can share content on behalf of the company. Also address legal and regulatory procedure. When should your social media team consult the legal department? When should they run something by HR?” —Read more at Execupay.

My #ExpoExpo Experience by Chad Chappell, CMP, Director of Sales Development with Visit Baltimore and Chair of the IAEE Expo! Expo! Advisory Committee


I have regularly attended Expo! Expo! for many years, but this is the first year I had the opportunity to be your Chair of the Expo! Expo! Advisory Committee.  From this view, I have seen first-hand that IAEE is a great organization and that Expo! Expo! is the premier opportunity to get the most value out of your organization’s membership.  As an attendee, I always felt a great vibe at the show. There was the top-notch education and B to B opportunities (all those great new leads!) as well as first class social events. But honestly we have several opportunities a year in our industry to attend similar shows, but there was always something a bit better, different, and special about Expo! Expo!  I took it for granted and came away satisfied year after year.  Now being so involved in the Advisory Committee I have unique insight as to how this happens.

Quite simply, its evolution.

Each year the IAEE staff take a deep dive into every aspect of the show.  What worked, what did not, and most importantly, they take that information to the Expo! Expo! Advisory Committee and put forth recommendations.  You are probably saying, of course, every organization does this after their annual trade show or event each year.  But IAEE is different because they have built very strong partnerships and relationships with the destinations and venues that host each year, as well as seek out member and exhibitor feedback. They then leverage those relationships and feedback to make real positive changes.

Sometimes those changes do not work. Sometimes they are a spectacular success. But that’s ok because it is always another opportunity to learn.  No risk, no reward!


That is what makes Expo! Expo! so great.  In the trade show and event industry I think you must be entrepreneurial and take risks.  If you are an organizer for either an established show or new show, a service provider for an established company or a new company, you must evolve or you die.  Maybe that is the vibe I have been getting?  All this entrepreneurial spirit in the air from the attendees creates something special.   It’s all about the action!

See you in Anaheim! Baltimore and San Antonio’s proud Synchronicities partner (shameless plug time).

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