This Just In

TSE Highlights from PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2020

Danica Tormohlen, Editor-at-large

SAN FRANCISCO — The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) hosted its annual Convening Leaders, Jan. 5-8 at Moscone Center. “We are thrilled to report that 5,300 attendees participated in the event online and in person,” said PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat.
Final counts aren’t in yet, but approximately 4,300 convention managers and industry suppliers gathered in person while another 850 participated online during live-streamed sessions. “One in four attendees are C-level executives, and more than 400 CEOs are in attendance,” Karamat said at the PCMA press conference.

“PCMA’s mission is to drive global economic and social transformation through business events,” Karamat said. To that end, Convening Leaders is expected to generate $14 million in economic impact to San Francisco, said Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO, San Francisco Travel Association.

D’Alessandro and his team were excited to show off the recent expansion at Moscone Center that was completed in January 2019. After a four-year $551 million construction project, Moscone Center added 157,000 gross square feet of meeting space to the Moscone North and South buildings and an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Howard Street that connects the North and South buildings.

Last year’s PCMA Chair Greg O’Dell, President and CEO of Events DC, welcomed attendees before officially handing the association’s leadership over to the 2020 PCMA Chair Stuart Ruff-Lyon, Vice President, Events and Exhibitions for Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. (RIMS).

In 2021, Convening Leaders will be held Jan. 10-13 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Convening Leaders will be hosted by Caesars Entertainment at CAESARS FORUM in Las Vegas in 2022 and by Columbus, Ohio in 2023.

Top 5 Quotes from PCMA Convening Leaders 2020

  1. “Americans are kind of ungovernable,” said former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during the Closing Keynote. When asked if she plans to run for public office, she told the audience it’s not in her DNA to run. Rice served as Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration from 2005 to 2009, and as Bush’s National Security Adviser from 2001 to 2005. Rice currently teaches at Stanford University.
  2. “We overuse things like sports analogies when we talk about business,” said Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game, during the Opening Keynote. “Like, ‘it’s fourth and goal, we have to do this.’ There’s no winning here.” Business is not a finite game like baseball or football with a winner at the end of the match, he said. In today’s business environment, he told the audience that leaders need to focus on five key areas: Advance a just cause; build trusting teams; study your worthy rivals; prepare for existential flexibility; and demonstrate the courage to lead.
  3. “Transparency is the big trend,” said Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer of Endeavor, during the keynote titled Inspire Social Change Through Brand Storytelling. Previously, Saint John held executive marketing roles with major tech companies, such as Apple and Uber. “Gone are the days when consumers don’t understand what is happening inside our companies. They want to know. They want to know leadership. They want to know why. Audiences are not interested in opaque glass. They want to see through it.”
  4. “We’ve tried to control people who don’t want to be controlled,” said Amanda Sage, Senior Manager, Meetings and Conventions at American Academy of Dermatology, during the session titled Solving for the Hotel Room Block Conundrum. Sage was referring to convention attendees, and she concurred with the findings of a recent PCMA research report that found 45% of convention attendees book outside of the block. Another interesting finding: 25% of city-wide convention attendees stayed in the hotels designated as part of the room block but did so on their own, thereby not being recognized by the hotels as being in the block. A full copy of the report is available at
  5. “We look forward to collaborating on new and exciting research and educational programming, as well as expanding access to professional networking, knowledge-sharing, and rich event experiences to both PCMA and CEMA members.” said Kimberley Gishler, President and CEO of the Corporate Event Marketing Association. At a press conference during Convening Leaders, PCMA and CEMA announced a strategic alliance that calls for collaboration and cross promotion through educational initiatives to help increase brand presence and membership. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Reach Sherrif Karamat at (312) 423-7262 or

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