Over the past six years, senior care professionals from across North America have gathered for PointClickCare’s annual SUMMIT to learn, converse, and network with their peers, industry experts, partners, and PointClickCare team members. There truly is no other event of its kind within the senior care industry.
With SUMMIT 2017 just around the corner, we sat down with Cheryl Alden, Vice President of Marketing, to get the scoop on how SUMMIT got started and how it will continue to grow in the future.
So, tell us how SUMMIT all started; whose brainchild was it?
When I joined PointClickCare near the end of 2009, PointClickCare was leveraging “road shows” as one of the means to facilitate customer engagement and education. A small team would go out on the road to host these sessions with customers. It was a typical scenario… A brief networking opportunity between about 20-30 people over coffee, Diet Coke and sticky buns, a two-hour presentation on our “latest and greatest,” and then everyone heads on to the next stop.
This wasn’t at all an uncommon practice used by software companies in start-up growth mode and has its place in the book of customer engagement tactics. However, having had some prior experience with SUMMIT-style programs, I opened the discussion on consolidating our efforts into one national event.
So the planning began — unsure if anyone would even come, since no other events of this magnitude existed — and I think the first year surprised everyone. We had 325 customers, 30 partners, and about 75 staff members participate — and on the last day when we closed the sessions, I knew we were “officially” in the national customer event business from that point forward.
Why did you feel it was time for an event like SUMMIT?
The road shows only benefitted a few customers at a time — and because our customers are so dispersed, it would’ve taken forever to visit all of them. A national event like SUMMIT provides a place where people from all over the nation, who share a common interest, can congregate to network and learn from one another. And that’s key.
There’s huge value in knowledge sharing, and bringing all of our customers together helps them to learn in a peer-to-peer environment.
They can talk to one another about some of the challenges they’re facing and other challenges that they have overcome. It’s a really great mechanism for getting people together to have a shared experience, and to know that they are not alone in whatever hurdles they’re facing.
What do you think attendees benefit from the most by going to SUMMIT?
The number one thing I consistently hear is the networking. Industry events are great, but they tend to focus on more general content and education. With PointClickCare SUMMIT, attendees not only benefit from having so many of their peers together in one place, but the opportunity to meet and converse with PointClickCare staff, over 60 partner vendors, plus and industry experts we bring in simply makes it impossible to match.
Attendees walk away with a new perspective on how they’re going to drive success for their organization and address the challenges they face.
Attendees walk away with a new perspective on how they’re going to drive success for their organization and address the challenges they face — some of that is directly related to what they learned about PointClickCare solutions and some of it is best practices they picked up from other providers who have either “been there, done that” or are about to embark on a similar journey. Either way, I’m pretty sure most walk away with several new friends and connections.
What’s your favorite SUMMIT memory so far?
That would have to be the gala night event, during our very first year hosting SUMMIT in 2011. The event was held at Hollywood Studios in the Raiders of the Lost Ark exhibit; there was a show on stage with actors portraying the popular movie characters, and we were able to work Mike Wessinger into the show. So, when the Indiana Jones character is ‘run over’ by the massive boulder — Mike swapped places with him, dressed in full Indiana Jones attire. The audience loved it and Mike got a kick out of it too — in fact, we’ve been integrating Mike into the gala event wherever possible ever since.
After the big “reveal” Mike welcomed the crowd and then the stage literally split in two and moved apart to reveal an amazing Arabian Nights themed backdrop for dinner right on the set. It was really fun and was a real ‘wow’ moment for everyone, including our employees, since this was a real “maturation moment” for us as a company.
What’s your vision for SUMMIT going forward?
We’re focused on continuing to support our vision of furthering innovation and overcoming the challenges faced by providers and their partners in long-term and post-acute care.
We also want attendees to have fun while they’re at SUMMIT. Our customers have demanding jobs, and we want them to know someone is spending time thinking about them.