Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shakin' Up the Holiday Gathering

Holiday parties! An evergreen part of any company's schedule, aren't they?
We look at our holiday events--any holiday event, really--as a way to celebrate our employees and show them we value them.
We've seen folks give out awards, and that's always nice. We've also seen the year-end slide-show of all the employees having a great time at other company outings, or, um, at their desks (those photos never actually get cheered at).
But today is International Volunteer Day, and we want to share with you something we did at one of our parties that went over like gangbusters: we allowed folks to volunteer.
We teamed up with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to host a station where folks could make get-well cards for children staying in the hospital. And we also set up a place for folks to volunteer for Philly Ride Share, where cancer patients can get lifts to treatments.
Almost everyone walked out of that party infused not only with the post-party glow that we like all our clients to have, but also with the knowledge that they did something good.
We know some other folks who have blocked off the whole day for their employees to volunteer at a soup kitchen and then ended the day with a holiday party. And we know still others who have worked good works into their holiday parties in other ways.
It's the season of good cheer. We can't think of a better way to spread it around a little than some volunteer elbow grease.
How do you celebrate the holidays at your company?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Disaster-Recovery Plans: Not Just for Your Data

Photo: Los Angeles Times  
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone for the United States' Eastern Seaboard. There's a lot of cleanup left to be done.
At The Hub, we were lucky: All three of our facilities were spared damage, although we kept them closed until today to ensure safety of our staff. SEPTA and Philadelphia airports were shut down, as well as Amtrak.
For The Hub, like many brick-and-mortar facilities on the east coast, the call to stay closed was easy: We certainly weren't going to hold our clients to a contract if it meant endangering their safety. But how did we make that call, and what steps did we take to ensure both good customer service and diligence in the face of a disaster?
The answer was plain elbow grease: We put all hands on deck, called each and every client, and offered to reschedule their meetings. By way of contingency plans, it wasn't complicated, but it did get the job done.
It also allowed us a chance to touch base with our clients, so that we could provide the white-glove service they're used to getting from us. But it did reinforce the concept of a good disaster-recovery plan: When all else fails, count on your employees.
We're hoping all our event professionals friends and colleagues are safe and sound, and wishing our New York colleagues especially a speedy recovery.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What's Fun Got to Do With Meetings and Events?

Everything, it turns out: Fun has the capability to make an ordinary event truly memorable, and even the most densely packed conference schedule feel not just manageable, but almost desirable. 

Does work really stop when the fun begins? Perhaps not. Read on for more. (Nick Gianoulis, co-founder of The Fun Dept. and our interview for today, is on the far left.)

We've been working with The Fun Dept., our resident experts in productivity and team-building, to make sure the events that we hold at The Hub are the best they can be: Clients of The Hub can choose from several tailored Fun Dept. deliveries to ensure attendees stay refreshed and happy during any event. 
We asked Nick Gianoulis, co-founder of The Fun Dept., for his take on the events industry. Read on for some surprising insights, and some answers you can put to work for your event today. 

Q: What's the biggest pitfall in corporate events today?

Meetings usually follow a standard format that do not foster a creative and productive environment. There is a sense of cramming in content without regards to the dynamic and needs of the participants. In the end, they are boring, not productive, and not memorable.

Q: How can event planners avoid these pitfalls?

Start with the desired outcome of the meeting or organizational event and build activities to support it, while providing the necessary breaks and encouraging collaborative and interactive environment.

Q: How important is physical activity when it comes to all-day or multiple-day events? Do you have any tips for event planners on encouraging physical movement in venues or conferences that don't lend themselves to such activity?

The average adult attention span is 10 minutes, so it is important to create an environment that allows people to be engaged and interact during meetings. We use laughter as a form of exercise and movement. Our deliveries are designed to be all inclusive and non-threatening so that everyone can participate. Mild, physical challenges with some competition is the format we find to be most successful.

Q: At a conference or event, many people expect to behave like professionals. What role does fun have in such an environment? How can it help professionals to be more professional?
It is very possible to be professional while having fun! Fun flattens out an organization and leadership buy-in is a critical fundamental that contributes to the success of our deliveries. It helps professionals be more human, and therefore connect to other members in an organization, leading to higher productivity and engagement in the workplace.

So there you have it. Before you're stumped for a true team-building activity, or before you notice your conference attendees looking a little flat, remind yourself that everything, even work, is better when it's fun. 

You can reach The Hub branch of The Fun Dept. by calling Kaitlin Wolfert at (267) 519 5272.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Three things every green meeting needs

The Hub is the nation's only privately-owned LEED-certified meeting facility in the nation. We've learned a few things about going green, but we took key steps before embarking on our mission to go--and stay--green.
It wasn't much different from planning a green meeting. The APEX standards are out, but here are the top three things any meeting planner who wants to execute a green event should have.

  1. A priority list: Make sure that you've written out both your desires and your expectations, from soup to nuts. It sounds obvious, but it's not always so: If the facility at which you are hosting your meeting donates food and beverage leftovers but only provides water in plastic bottles, will that be a deal breaker for you? You need to know ahead of time which parts of a green meeting are most important. Every little bit helps, but not every facility will be able to provide everything. 
  2. Buy-in from all of the key players: If you're committed to planning green meetings, you will need a strong narrative thread that runs all the way through, from your client's end to your end. Make sure everyone on both teams understands not only the how of a green event, but also the why. Don't let anyone go into this blindly. 
  3. A clear understanding of the facility's capabilities: This one's a no-brainer. You can't say you're going to plan a green meeting and not know what you're working with. 

Start here, and you won't go wrong.
What about everyone else? Do you have planning tips for laying the groundwork of a green meeting?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fun Makes the World Go 'Round

Oh, what does having fun at work really mean, anyhow? We've heard of people who play tag at work; companies who allow their workers to take a day off when the surf is up; people who play soccer at lunch, even Casual Friday being touted as "fun."
But really, these people aren't really having fun at work. That is, their work isn't actively pushing the idea of fun. And the "fun" they're prescribing is designed to let people take a break from work, in the hopes that it'll improve productivity. 
But no one ever addresses the idea that your work should be fun. You should love it so much that you can't wait to come to work. 
Some conferences are like that, aren't they? You can't wait to meet new people, or learn things that will help you in your work life, things that will help you to grow as a professional. And yet, conferences are definitely work, and we think we've hit upon the right formula to make sure that you have fun while working. 
Our answer is The Fun Dept. They're a group working to make sure meetings, conferences, and every day at work is fun. We've partnered with them to provide a select menu of offerings that allow event planners everywhere to help attendees get the most out of conferences. 
Because when someone gets asked, "Oh! How was your conference this week?" You want the answer to be, "Oh, man. It was SO MUCH FUN." Read on. (Click to make the images full-size.) And let us know if you have questions, either by calling the number listed or e-mailing us, or letting us know in the comments. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

What a launch!

The Hub co-founders Bill Decker (L) and John New. Our bold and mighty forces? Why, our clients, of course!

We had a rockin' party last night to open our Commerce Square location. It was such a treat to see everyone out and about, and hobnob with professionals in our industry.
We're particularly proud of this facility--it's the cumulation of a lot of thought, and the epitome of our personal philosophy about meetings of any size: Meet. Then Collaborate. And Grow.
We'd like to use this space to thank all of our partners. (All photos Mindy Holahan or Simon Jon Photo.)

Advanced Staging's lighting made our wall decals look positively Hollywood-worthy.

AFR Event Furnishings made sure all our guests walked the red carpet.

Stephen Starr Events provided our catering for the night--they're the official caterer for our new location.

Oliver Frazier Shoe Shine made sure all our guests looked spiffy, all the way through the night.

Photo Simon Jon Photography

Hoffman Design Group made our "grow" vision a reality with their gorgeous arrangements.

Photo Simon Jon Photography

Dave Baker – Guitarist provided great tunes.
Photo Dave Baker

Shutter Booth Philadelphia helped our guests to capture the evening.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream & Philly Soft Pretzel Factory kept us smiling

Fun Department did, too, but they also made us think, with trivia questions!

Prodigal Private Security Inc.  made sure all the right folks got in.

Pat House - Comedian, Helium Comedy Club, made great use of our Apollo ampitheatre.
Photo Simon Jon Photography

W.B. Mason donated postcards for get-well cards for the children at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Photo Simon Jon Photography

Pictures By Todd provided event photography

Signs By Tomorrow (Bryn Mawr location) made sure everyone knew where our loyalties lie.
Photo Simon Jon Photography

LB Entertainment - Mélange Jazz Trio kept the crowd on its feet.
(photo Simon Jon Photography)

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia  and PhillyPatientRide were our charity beneficiaries for the evening.

Marilyn Sukonik Zeff's Professional Tarot Card Presentation made sure everyone went home with a reading or two.
Photo Simon Jon Photography

Monte's Graphics, caricature artist

i-Meet, the network for event pros, sponsored our goody bags

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A new facility in which to grow

Philadelphia, PA--If  “collaboration” is the latest concept in high-efficiency meetings, then Philadelphia event-planning facility The Hub is the place to execute the concept.
In April, The Hub will open its latest space, “The Hub Commerce Square.” In keeping with the much-lauded community feel of the location, and with developer Thomas Properties’ desire to position the square as a destination, The Hub Commerce Square’s presence will bolster the neighborhood as an exciting choice for business visitors and residents alike.
The Hub Commerce Square rotates around an idea that has long driven the Hub’s meeting planning service: “Meet. Collaborate. Grow.” The 24,000 square-foot space is divided into areas that reflect the sensitivity of each of these important aspects of any event process. Bill Decker, President of The Hub, said, “[Commerce Square] is kind of a big facility, and we want people to find their way through it. So the different spaces are built to represent opportunities to do each of those things.”
To that extent, “Grow,” is planned to be germane to networking events as well as speaking events that are food- and beverage-oriented. It underscores the necessity of nature in the inspiration process, and looks out over the internal courtyard of Commerce Square, long heralded as a jewel in Philadephia’s Center City area.

The “Collaborate” area of The Hub Commerce Square includes the Apollo amphitheater, named after one of the most famous collaborations of all time, the Apollo space mission.
“Meet” comprises the remainder of space, as the most sociological part of the equation that makes up any business process. Smaller rooms make for more intimate gatherings and more efficient workspace.
Tours of The Hub Commerce Square are available now. Call The Hub headquarters at (877) 843 4821.
Since 2004, The Hub has been a key provider of meeting planning services and facilities. Its CityView and Cira Centre are leaders in sustainability, green practices, and corporate social responsibility. In 2010 The Hub was named to Inc. Magazine’s 500 list, the publication’s annual list of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sustainable meetings

Now that the meetings and events industry has come up with a set of comprehensive guidelines for sustainability, there's been a lot of buzz about whether or not we should spend the time adopting those standards.
We said yes, for obvious reasons.
Here's the full post, over at Thanks to Marvin McTaw for encouraging us to post our experience on the green side of business.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Social business"--what does it mean to you?

We just read a mind-boggling, three-page blog post on What Social Business means. It was full of terms that we just don't use socially. We pulled this gem, in particular:
"[Social business] is a sociopolitical historical shift that is bigger, broader and much more fascinating."
We're going to be a lot more brief--and more understandable--than that.

First let's look at a business that's truly bought into the social business model.

IBM has crafted an entire strategy around not just using social media, but about ensuring that all of their employees understand what it means to be a truly social business. (IBM no longer sells directly to the consumer, so it has to pay added attention to what its employees want and feel.) Specifically, it's operating on a three different levels:
1. Engagement
2. Transparency
3. Nimbleness
We like this concept. We fully embrace the fact that businesses, even ones that are B-to-B, should be engaged with their employees and their customer base; that we should be as transparent as possible, and that we need to react well and fast to any opportunities and challenges that come our way.

But we don't think it's all that complicated, nor do we think it's all that revolutionary. Our vision is this: People first. That means customers and employees. And really, it can be illustrated at a micro level.

For instance, it used to be that you went out and bought something at a big box store, and that was the end of it. Now it works like this:

1. You're looking for an widget, so you ask your friends on Facebook what widgets they like the best.
2. Your friends recommend several options, but one stands out above all the others.
3. You go on to;;, and search for this particular widget.
4. You find a widget that's been highly recommended by other widget-experienced people, on sale from a seller with high recommendations from other widget-purchasers.
5. You order your widget. The widget-seller tells you when it ships.
6. You get your widget and are happy or sad or just enh about it, so you feed back directly to the widget-seller about your experience.

See? It's social all the way through. There is communication all the way through, and transparency too. At its best, this is the way business should work.

For us at The Hub, that means the following:
1. We maintain as much transparency as possible: Our green standards, for instance, are readily available to our clients.
2. We make sure our clients have ample opportunity to feed back to us about what we can do better.
3. We make sure our employees are encouraged to feed back to our leadership--and each other--about where we've gone right, and where we can do better.

How is your business social?