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Enterprise Engagement Expo Extols Holistic Approach

Nearly 1,000 engagement professionals gathered in New York City on May 12-13 for the first ever Enterprise Engagement Expo, bringing together an array of organizations, exhibitors and speakers to argue, identify, define support and illustrate the need for engagement efforts in every aspect of business. Speakers and exhibitors, in particular, demonstrated the importance of – and the tools for – engaging employees, customers, channel partners and vendors.

Specifically, the conference was designed to “help provide a framework for the emerging field of Enterprise Engagement by covering some of the key topics related to leadership, measurement, management, communications, incentive programs and other drivers of engagement in organizations,” says Bruce Bolger, CEO of Selling Communications Inc., the conference management company, and a spokesperson for the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, one of the conference sponsors. “We wanted to give people a serious reason to leave the office for a day or two to learn how to do business more effectively and to meet face-to-face with suppliers in a time-efficient manner.”

Bolger notes that the key objective of Enterprise Engagement is to understand the links between customer engagement, employee engagement, and distributor engagement, and connect the dots between engagement and financial results. “The need to engage customers, channel partners, salespeople and all employees is emerging as one of the key competitive tools of the decade and probably beyond,” he says.

Asked whether he felt attendees understood the concept of the EEExpo and the “holistic” approach that Enterprise Engagement promotes, Todd Hanson, President of Catalyst Performance Group, who was both an exhibitor and a presenter, responded that “attendance and the quality of attendees at the presentations was high, and there was a very high level of participation, of interaction, during my presentation – which I thought was good.”

Hanson also spoke for the incentive industry when he added, “The Enterprise Engagement theme is spot-on. If we in the industry are going to continue to sell our products and services, we’ve got to embrace the concept that we’ve got to help our clients drive business results, and through the Enterprise Engagement Alliance and conferences like this we’re learning that improving engagement helps accomplish that.”

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Products and Services

The EEExpo, which incorporated the New York Incentive, Rewards & Recognition Show, brought together a number of key business and organizational sponsors, including Peppers & Rogers Group, the Human Capital Institute, Incentive Marketing Association, Business Marking Association, 1to1 Media, Sales Management Association and Recognition Professionals International.

Karen Renk, Executive Director of the Incentive Marketing Association, says the opportunity to connect with members and speak to potential new IMA members in the Exhibit Hall was an important component of the 2-day event, adding that “it’s valuable for the incentive marketplace to align itself with the concept of engagement, and to position incentive programs as a critical tool in an engagement strategy.”

Among the nearly 100 exhibitors at this year’s event were leading incentive companies and major brands such as Bulova, Sony, Fuji, National Geographic, Omaha Steaks, Rymax Marketing Services, Canon USA, Top Brands, Bath & Body Works, Movado Group, OSI Restaurant Partners/Outback, Panasonic, Maui Jim and TUMI.

Also taking part were a number of organizations that supply engagement tools and services to the business world – EGR International, John Wiley & Sons, Maritz, The Incentive Group, Impact 4 Good, Random House and BrainShark, among others. These firms and a dozen more occupied a special area of the Exhibit Hall dubbed the Enterprise Engagement Pavilion, which Bolger says “for the first time defined the field of engagement as much broader than originally outlined, to advance all of the tools that can enhance engagement.”

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Special Events

A special luncheon presentation on Day 1, sponsored by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, featured Kevin McConville, Senior Managing Partner for Gallup, who shared his company’s latest findings on employee and customer engagement and the ROI of such efforts.

“We do a study every night where we survey 1,000 people on their level of engagement,” McConville said, demonstrating the reach of Gallup’s research. Specifically, he talked about some of the questions that Gallup uses in its research on employee engagement – questions like: “Yes or no, do you know what is expected of you on a daily basis?” and “Are you given the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” And, he added, “We are not looking for people who occasionally get to do well, but people who get to do what they do best every day.”

The hardest question for companies to get a high score on, McConville said, was rewards and recognition: “We ask: ‘Have you received praise or recognition in the last seven days?’ We understand that incentive-based motivation programs aren’t just about pay plans, employees of the year or quarter, or incentives and trips. It’s more about learning how employees – and other constituencies – want to be recognized.”

McConville noted that a lot of Gallup’s research shows the key drivers of engagement are more about the personal relationship that people have with their managers. “We ask people whether their manager cares about them as a person,” he said. “Do their opinions count? Are they learning and growing in the company?”

What Gallup has found, as it continues to examine these issues, is that “people who are more engaged over the years have lower turnover, are safer, are more productive, are more profitable and treat your customers much better and engage them in a bigger way,” McConville concluded.

That evening, EEExpo sponsors hosted a cocktail reception for all attendees and exhibitors in the Hilton’s Mercury Ballroom, where everyone was able to relax and network a bit after a full day of education, exhibits and events.

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Expanding Education

A slate of 12 hour-long educational sessions kicked off on Tuesday morning with an overview by Bolger of the goals and objectives of the EEExpo, followed by Allen Schweyer of the Human Capital Institute, who discussed how engagement affects the bottom line in his presentation, ROE: Return on Engagement. Other first day speakers included Mike Ryan of Madison Performance Group, Keith Rosen of Profit Builders, Thomas Traynor of Traynor & Zehe Inc., Kevin Cronin of Perks.com, Douglas Klein of Sirota Survey Intelligence and John Keller of Verizon.

Day two of the conference was just as exciting and informative, with Don Peppers, Founder of Peppers & Rogers Group and 1to1 Media, presenting Customer Engagement: The Competitive Edge, followed by Dr. Robert Passikoff of Brand Keys, Linda Kaplan Thayer of the Kaplan Thaler Group, Todd Hanson of Catalyst Performance Group and ending with a panel discussion on Engagement Technology that included Mike Hoffman of RI Communications, Jeff Dalton of Paramax Productions and Bruce Bolger of Solata Technologies, moderated by Ira Ozer of motivation Partners.

Following the conference, Bolger talked briefly about plans for next year’s event, including the continued involvement of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance: “The Enterprise Engagement Alliance will be charting the overall direction of the event next year in terms of location, strategy and theme,” he says. “We’re very excited to have such a leading team of experts to draw from to make the 2010 event even better.”
For more information on next year’s EEExpo, as well as downloadable versions of this year’s Education Session handouts, go to www.nyirr.com

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Top Products at This Year’s Show

Attendees at this year’s Enterprise Engagement Expo/New York Incentive, Rewards & Recognition Show have spoken. The Brand Products Gallery at the entrance to the exhibit hall showcased dozens of the hottest new products from exhibitors. Here are the top three vote-getters:


Canon USA: SELPHY CP780 Compact Photo Printer
The Canon SELPHY CP780 compact photo printer is designed not only to be easy-to-use, convenient to carry and comptible with the new Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS Digital ELPH camera, it’s also available in three different colors – silver, blue and pink.

Canon USA: SELPHY CP780 Compact Photo Printer

SmartBox Experience, Inc: Smartbox
Smartbox is experiences in a gift box. It allows an individual to choose an activity around a given theme which then makes for lasting memories. Presented in a box slightly larger than a CD, it includes a fully illustrated guidebook with choices of experience, a gift voucher to be redeemed at the time of service and a “Thankyou” postcard. Smartbox is valid for 1-2 people and no extra fees are required. Price Range: $69-$369.

SmartBox Experience, Inc: Smartbox

Maui Jim, Inc.: Maui Jim Sunglasses
Maui Jim Sunglasses is the fastest growing premium sunglass company in America and is a recognized leader in sun protection technology. Their Polarized Plus and Polarized Plus 2 lenses block 100% of UV rays, and they “manage” blue light without interfering with color balance and perception. Choose from our most popular styles in six pricing categories, all backed by solid warranty protection and customer service. We also offer custom cases and a personalized fitting program at your event!

Maui Jim, Inc.: Maui Jim Sunglasses

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EGR International Inc.

Marriott Bloomington-Normal

McBassi

Canon