Go Behind the Scenes at Industry Leading Events with CEMA

June 12, 2018

The Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) advances strategic event marketing and marketing communications for senior-level event marketers and industry professionals.  

CEMA strives to offer programs to its members and the industry that help bring the community together through a spirit of sharing information and best practices. One such offering is the CEMA Study Tour program. CEMA Study Tours are truly unique.

“It’s not a fam (familiarization trip) and it’s not just ‘fun’,” said Olga Rosenbrook, CEMA’s director of member services. “It’s education, networking and getting the opportunity to see how other successful peers are making industry history with their events.”

Rosenbrook explained that CEMA always offers interactive discussions between the team responsible for the events and the attendees. This allows the program host to share their challenges and successes and also gives participants the chance to engage and ask any questions they may have about the event.

Past Study Tours include behind-the-scenes tours of industry-leading tech conferences such as CES, Oracle Open World, Salesforce’s Dreamforce, SAP’s SAPPHIRE, Microsoft Ignite, Citrix Synergy, and OSIsoft’s PI World.

These tours, however, aren’t just limited to tech conferences. In Feb. 2018, after the Sonoma and Napa fires, the association conducted a tour of Sonoma to help drive wine country economy.

In 2017, the group offered a tour of Abilities Expo - LA. Owner/Producer Lew Shomex shared how the event became the go-to source for the community of people with disabilities, their families, seniors, veterans and healthcare professionals.  Attendees left with valuable insight and ideas to help make their own events a better, more powerful experience for this often overlooked community.

CEMA has also brought participants behind the scenes at major sporting events and venues including the Indy Grand Prix, San Francisco 49ers Stadium, and, most recently, partnering with Visit Dallas, the NFL Draft.

The 2018 NFL Draft was hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, and was the first time the event had been held inside an NFL Stadium. The Draft theatre had more than 23,000 attendees (think really big keynote) and over 250,000 attendees attended the Draft Experience and Free Football Festival to see best-of-breed interactive experiential marketing activations (think really big expo hall).

Study Tour attendees were given a private tour of the Ford Center at The Star, the state-of-the-art new Dallas Cowboy headquarters and training center. After that, they experienced the first round of the NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. A behind-the-scenes interactive panel discussion was held at the MLB Texas Rangers, followed by an insider’s tour of Globe Life Park. In addition to draft activities, receptions and dinners, CEMA provided a historical tour of the Sixth Floor Museum and the Grassy Knoll.

I have personally attended several CEMA Study Tours over the years, including Oracle OpenWorld 2010 – which was the year Oracle acquired Sun and first held JavaOne concurrently with OpenWorld. I learned some amazing facts about the corporate social responsibility and sustainability efforts put into the combined event, and got to see the “auld mug” (America’s Cup) close-up.

At Dreamforce 2011, Study Tour participants learned all about the conference – but what really stuck in my head is the music: from Neil Young and M.C. Hammer keynote participation to the headbanging Metallica concert which was the conference special event.

In April 2018, I was a guest at the OSIsoft PI World Conference Study Tour. Not only did we get to interact with the crack conference management team, we also had the opportunity to meet and engage with all the vendors involved with producing the event. OSIsoft has developed a relationship with Hilton that truly is a partnership, and the information they provided made it clear how much better any event can be when the client and suppliers work together this way.

The common theme across all the CEMA Study Tours is that level of openness and sharing. Corporate event marketers and managers are notoriously tight-lipped about how they do things, why they do them, and how much money they spend.

Reasons for this are debatable, but from my own experience in the industry much of it comes down to executive pressure to not give up any competitive advantage. Not so within CEMA: planners and marketers share whatever details they can, in the hopes of continuing to raise the industry standards and collectively provide the best customer experience to all event attendees.

CEMA Study Tours are typically open to both members and client-side non-members. Most require a nominal registration fee (smaller for members), and prospective attendees must apply to attend and be approved by both CEMA and the tour host organization.

If all of the great learning and networking opportunities aren’t enough of an incentive, Study Tour attendees also receive CMP credits.

To see a short video testimonial from CEMA’s Study Tour of the 2015 Salesforce World Tour Chicago, go HERE.

For a list of upcoming Study Tours and other events, including the annual CEMA Summit, go HERE.

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