The IRF Invitational Education Day will take place on Thursday, May 31st, at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun. The full schedule and session descriptions are listed below. All Education Day general sessions will be held in the Grand Theater, located in the Main Building, directly beneath the Sun Terrace. All breakout sessions will be held in Grand Ballroom 1, 2, 3 and the Auditorium. Lunch and coffee breaks will be served in the Grand Ballroom and Ballroom Foyer.

Education Day sessions are sponsored by Hyatt Resort Alliance, KSL Resorts, Kuoni DMC, and Lafayette Group DMC, with a Closing Champagne Toast Sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines.

Thursday, May 31

IRF Education Day Breakfast
Sponsored by The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun


Opening Remarks

Jim Kelley, Vice President of Industry Relations, PRG & IRF Trustee   
Mike May, President, Brightspot Incentives & Events & IRF Chair       


Morning Keynote

Building Your Network: Your New Net Worth (1 Hour)
Jill Rowley, Chief Growth Officer, Marketo

We're living in an era where the relationship between buyer and brand has been forever changed. Everyone and everything is becoming connected across digital, mobile, and social. We've harnessed the power of technology to achieve unimaginable levels of reach and scale. Yet, as humans, we have a finite attention span. We don't want to be marketed to or sold. We want help. We demand value. Who do you trust – an ad, a pop-up, a random tweet, a cold call, a generic email? No, you trust your peers, colleagues, family, and friends. You trust PEOPLE. 

In this session, you will have multiple "aha" moments around the importance of building your personal brand and growing and strengthening your professional network. You will walk away with practical tips on how to engage in more human, personal, and meaningful ways that help you win the hearts and minds of your customers. You will learn the new ABC: Always Be Connecting, because your net worth is your network. 

IRF Education Day Morning Coffee Break
Sponsored by Kuoni DMC


Morning Breakout Sessions

  • Morning Breakout #1

Building a Better Incentive and Reward Program with IRF Research: Separating What We Think From What We Know (1 Hour)
Allan Schweyer, President, TMLU & Chief Academic Advisor, The IRF
Melissa Van Dyke, President, The IRF

At any given moment, the IRF is working on 17-20 different research projects. Join the IRF's President, Chief Academic Advisor, and Chief Research Advisor in this interactive session, as they help you explore key findings from the last few years. These findings can help you build better incentive and reward programs, use the research more effectively, and  navigate the IRF's current and future data streams. 

  • Morning Breakout #2

Building Our Industry's Economic Impact (1 Hour)
Krzysztof Celuch, PhD, CMM, CITE, CIS, HMCC, CED, CEO/Owner, Celuch Consulting 

The quality of the meetings industry is best demonstrated by its scope and economic impact, along with cultural, social, and environmental significance. In the case of new fields, with emphasis on business, it is crucial to examine their efficiency, effectiveness and, finally, define their value. In this session you will better understand the connection between research, the conclusion it leads you to, and how to put that information into action for success.

  • Morning Breakout #3

Building a Seat at the Table: Using Meetings as a Listening Post for the Future (1 Hour)
William Donius, Author/Speaker/Ideation Facilitator 

Join Bill in this engaging, interactive session where you'll experience his methodology for unlocking innovation, intuition, and creativity. Hear firsthand the story of how its application positioned the meeting planner as a trusted-partner to executives and helped drive radical business change in the company, resulting in sustained success.

  • Morning Breakout #4

Building a Better Digital Experience (1 Hour)
Danielle Cirami-Gillis, Vice President, Events and Tradeshows, Northstar Media 
Joe D'Andrea, Vice President, Digital, Northstar Media

Connecting live events with a digital experience is needed now more than ever before. To stay relevant, a multichannel strategy is no longer optional – it’s essential! Learn what’s working, what to avoid, and what’s on the immediate horizon. Attendees will gain inspiration, understanding, and a strategic framework to immediately incorporate with their companies and customers.


IRF Education Day Lunch
Sponsored by United Airlines


Afternoon Breakout Sessions

  • Afternoon Breakout #1

Building Tomorrow's Airline Experience (1 Hour)
Panel Moderator: Kari Vrba, SVP Business Development, MotivAction & IRF Trustee
Check The IRF Mobile App for the most up-to-date list of panelists.

It's no secret that the airline industry continues to be pressed on many sides for reasonable fares, more engaging experiences, and heightened customer service. Join Kari Vrba and a panel of airline experts as they take flight in discussing current issues surrounding air transportation for events, and explore what is on the horizon of the airline experience for both planners and participants.

  • Afternoon Breakout #2

Building Tomorrow's Event Experience (1 Hour)
Tahira Endean, CMP, CED, Event Producer, #BCTECH Summit & Author, Intentional Event Design Our Professional Opportunity

This fun, interactive session will explore the Seven Intentions at the heart of all successful future event experiences. From Purpose-Driven Design, to understanding why data is the new bacon, and food + happiness drive the optimal brain experience, Tahira will call on a wealth of personal and network examples that allow you to walk away with challenges and ideas for your next event.

  • Afternoon Breakout #3

Building Strategic Social Impact (1 Hour)
Michele Sarkisian, President, P3 Advisors

We know meetings, incentives, and events are good for business … and they can be good for communities when designed properly. Why should we care? Can a business do well by doing good? Join Michele Sarkisian for an interactive discussion on the many ways our industry and different organizations are making an impact around the globe and take away some actionable ideas for your own company and clients.

  • Afternoon Breakout #4

Building Trusted Relationships: It’s Ok to Tell Me No (1 Hour)
Panel Moderator: Jim Kelley, Vice President of Industry Relations, PRG & IRF Trustee
Check The IRF Mobile App for the most up-to-date list of panelists.

IRF research continuously shows how trusted partnerships are the root of all effective incentive travel programs. But how do we build these relationships in the fast-paced, pressure-cooker of meetings execution, especially where sometimes saying "No" is eminent? Join Jim Kelley as he leads an expert panel to discuss what the data says, what their experience is, and how they've learned to build trusted relationships throughout the supplier/buyer network.  


IRF Education Day Afternoon Coffee Break
Sponsored by Kuoni DMC


Closing Keynote
Sponsored by Speak Inc.

Stop Acting Your Age! Building a Successful Multi-Generational Workplace (1 Hour)
Matt Havens, Keynote Speaker, Big Pow Enterprises, LLC 

An Entertaining Keynote to Help You Avoid Generational Warfare

In this humorous keynote, you will learn a simpler way of looking at your own generational picture, while also seeing how to understand, recognize, and resolve the many generational issues facing today’s workforce. That’s no exaggeration; by the end of Stop Acting Your Age!, you and your colleagues will walk away with all of the knowledge you will need to address 100% of the generational issues that will face you for the rest of your career. 

Partial List of Takeaways:

  • Learn to replace the complicated four-generation model with a workable dichotomy between older, more experienced workers and their younger, less-experienced counterparts.
  • Walk away with several immediately applicable strategies to address and eliminate problems caused by the disconnect mentioned above.
  • Inspire a healthier, more robust work ethic in your younger employees (and your older ones, too) and a healthier, more robust attitude toward change in your older employees (and your younger ones, too). 
3:00pm  Closing Champagne Toast
Sponsored by Carnival Cruise Line


4 Hours of CMP Credit