SPINCon 2014: For a Good Time, Call the Senior Planner Network

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St. Louis Union Station – a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
The 3D light show at St. Louis Union Station-a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Orlando-based planner Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP. Check out her Hospitality Hive blog for more adventures in the meetings biz.]

The Senior Planner Network, aka SPIN, really delivered some wow experiences during their 3rd annual SPINCon 2014 conference last month in St. Louis. Using a theme of “re:Ignite!,” all of the educational and just-for-fun sessions revolved around creating balance and purpose via mind, body, and brain. With over 100 veteran planners in attendance, the conference programming managed to provide something for everyone. As a first time attendee, here are some of my top memories:

Have you ever stayed in a converted train station? It was a first for me too at the Doubletree at Union Station. They have fantastic food fit for creative minds, and knowing that Senior Planners have eaten it all, the Doubletree staff outdid themselves.

I mean, what were they smoking in those catering meetings when they came up with items like honey shooters stuck into pecan-stuffed French toast, salmon tar-tar in mini cones, candied bacon on a stick, and ‘lab breaks’ complete with candy filled beakers and petri dishes served during scheduled recesses?

We also visited the sister Hilton property down the street to enjoy the rockin’ Three Sixty Rooftop Bar event on the second night.  Situated on the 26th floor of the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, this rooftop venue offered snow-capped views of both the iconic St. Louis Arch and a peek inside Busch Stadium, all while enjoying fish tacos, awesome pizza, and adult beverages. A splendid combination taking networking to new heights.

Here’s a new take on Bucket Lists. SPINCon incorporated buckets to wear and fill with whatever statements you wanted to put in your own personal bucket. Buckets were everywhere, and we even had a chance to put symbols of what we wanted to ‘dump’ from our lives into a larger bucket and, you guessed it, set the thing on fire. Watching your troubles turn to ashes in a flame filled bucket outside in the snow is way cool. Try it at home and see for yourself.

Speaking of big buckets, SPINCon 2014 had an inflatable swimming pool filled with buckets full of balls in which to play, sleep, rest, take selfies, or just smile about whenever you passed it in front of our meeting space.

We had no less than five (or was it six?) programmed recesses. Who can remember, and who doesn’t love scheduled daily play time? Thanks Sharon Fisher from Play with a Purpose for organizing some really amazing, creative and purposeful playtimes!

SPIN knows how to create a good time too. Zumba, yoga, bingo, musical chairs, vision boards, selfie contests, journaling and meditation were all incorporated for fun, recreation and personal amusement. Then there was the “serious” stuff in the form of meetings with a stylist, scent expert, makeup professional, or massage master during your free time after lunch. Yep. If you weren’t there, you missed it all, and then some.

The. Most. Awesome. Lobby. Bar. Ever. Let’s face it, where there are planners there’s bound to be a busy lobby bar. But this one had trains circling overhead, angels flying, holiday lights and incredible music syncopated to a magnificently visual 3D light show video display projected above us. Never a dull moment in that train station!

And do you want to know what my favorite of all the takeaway memories was from SPINCon 2014? Seeing SPIN founder Shawna Suckow, CMP wearing comfy-cozy zebra stripped pajamas (with footies, no less) as she paced the stage sharing her opening comments and declaring the conference a “No Judgment” zone.

So if this conference piques your interest (many sessions qualify for CEU’s needed toward CMP recertification) and you have over ten years of experience as a meeting planner (basic qualification for SPIN members), pull out your 2015 calendar right now and mark the dates of November 15-17 for the next SPINCon extravaganza. Location TBA, but for sure St. Louis will be a hard act to follow.

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