I had heard about previous European Conferences, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I prepared for my first one. I knew that I would know a few attendees that were going from Ireland as well as colleagues that I had met on previous MDP courses but how was a virtual conference going to work and how would I get on with fellow manager from across the world?
In advance we received links, notices and apps but to be honest it filled me more with questions rather than giving me answers. “Zoom” I was familiar with but “Gatherly”, what the hell was that?
And so Monday morning came. I clicked on the link to attend the “Open CMAE Meeting” and I “Zoomed” in. There was Toby’s friendly face. He welcomed everybody to the conference and gave an overview of how everything was going to work. That first meeting really set the tone for the 3 days as we were sent to different virtual rooms to meet with other delegates. Suddenly you realised that this was going to work, and it was going to be a great experience.
Day 1 was all about the continuous learning that goes with being a member of CMAE. This certainly reenergised me and it encouraged everybody to continue along the path of becoming a CCM. A new Book Club was launched which should assist members not only in identifying new resources to broaden horizons but also give the opportunity to engage with others in the club industry to tease out learnings.
Day 2 was the highlight for me. There were 4 keynote speakers as well as 9 seminars. Day 2 was entirely hosted on a platform called “Gatherly”. This platform enabled you to visit 4 virtual floors, the lobby, where you could hook up with other delegates and 3 other floors where you could attend the seminars and keynote speeches. This platform gave you the impression that you were nearly in the same room as other delegates which was amazing.
The keynote speakers were excellent. Rob Hill gave a fantastic presentation on what leaders should be measuring and in particular the items that impact on stakeholders. Andre Van Hall spoke on Effective change management. He encouraged us all to challenge the way things are done and said that change is inevitable but personal growth is optional. Arnaldo Cocuzza, joined from the Desert Mountain Club and gave us an overview of his career which was certainly a roller coaster ride. From the high of running a very successful Italian Open golf tournament to being shown the door not long after to now running the athletic section of the Desert Mountain Club, which according to Arnaldo is the largest club in the world. This certainly showed that the life of a club manager is never as straight forward as those on the outside would believe. The last keynote speaker of the day was Vincent Phipps who seemed to have endless energy in giving his speech on the Attitude Amplifier. At the end of a long day he was exactly what was required.
Between the keynote speakers there were a series of seminars, of which I attended 3. The most worthwhile I felt was the seminar on “How to burn down your clubhouse (in 3 easy steps)” which was hosted by David Roy and Chris May. In this they showed how fire disasters have happened and how they could have been prevented.
On Day 3 delegates could attend any one out of a series of six workshops. These were detailed workshops, hosted by experts. I chose “Customer Service in the future” which was hosted by Kevin Fish. This was a brilliant workshop and we got to engage with other delegates from across the globe.
The conference finished with a presentation from Vito Di Bari who is an Innovation Designer. He painted a picture of what the future is going to be like, and boy is it going to change. If you ever get a chance to see one of his presentations take the opportunity as it is mind blowing.
Then it was all off home after saying our goodbye’s. This was another great aspect of the conference as there wasn’t the dreaded waiting in airports etc.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first CMAE European Conference. It definitely won’t be my last. The learnings, the catching up with friends and making new ones were the highlights. Congratulations to James Burns, President CMAE, Toby Johansson, Director of Education CMAE and Debbie Goddard, Association Manager CMAE and all their assistants on hosting a fantastic event.
Finally, I would like to thank the IGCMA for all their assistance and for facilitating my attendance. It really is very much appreciated.