Ann Loayza, CMP is the Senior Director of Global Events at Operations at International Facility Management Association (IFMA).
She studied Marketing & Sales at University of Houston but after graduating, she quickly realized that event management was her true life calling. She honed her skills over the past 15 years with a wide variety of domestic and international conferences. Passionate about the attendee experience, she always tries to implement a wow factor.
Can you briefly describe the International Facility Management Association?
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has about 25,000 members and 175 chapters around the world. Our members are predominately from the U.S. and Canada; but we have 10 to 15 chapters in Europe, and even a few in India and China. We are currently launching a chapter in Dubai.
Our members look to us to provide them educational and informational content relating to best practices. They also rely on the IFMA for accredited instruction because there are few other institutions that provide recognized credentials for facilities managers, operators, and maintenance providers.
What is the mission of the organization?
IFMA’s goal is to advance the professional discipline and recognition of facility management around the world. In developing countries, and even in China, facility management is only beginning to be recognized as a profession with unified standards.
IFMA host Advocacy Day’s and Public Policy Forum’s for senior members whose job responsibility includes interfacing with lawmakers. Where there is pending legislation or issues that impact the profession at the national or local level, the meetings give members the opportunity to discuss strategies and share ideas.
Our organization has a collaborative association with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who have their headquarters in London. The RICS is a global not-for-profit professional body representing land, real estate, construction, and infrastructure management.
The two organizations are aligning standards and professional development; and we are working to unite the global facility management community to increase consistency and unify our organizational strategy.
What is the history of the IFMA’s World Workplace event?
The International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA) World Workplace is a hands-on, interactive learning and networking event for management professionals.
The well-established conference is now in its 36th year. The event is held annually in various cities across the U.S. This year’s event will be held between October 18th and October 20th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.
What types of facilities do your members manage?
Our members manage museums, airports, country clubs, and a wide variety of other types of facility. We even have members at the White House and Capitol Building.
Most of our membership are associated with large facilities with public exposure like stadiums, hotels, commercial buildings, or malls.
Have you organized any special sessions for this year’s event?
The IFMA’S headquarters is in Houston. This is the first year that we are holding the event in our hometown, so we are planning to make this year’s event special. The theme this year event is “Universe of Possibilities” and closing keynote speakers will be the two astronaut brothers.
The program is structured around the core competencies of facility management with a focus on real estate, security, operations, and maintenance. Each area will have a track, but we will be playing up the “Whole Universe of Possibilities” theme.
Are there any other areas that you focus on?
We will have interesting secessions on workplace strategy management and technology. There will also be a secession on workplace evolution to help encourage workplace innovation. That subject area has been a popular track.
How many people attend this event?
For the past 10 years, we have had about 5,000 attendees. Last year in San Diego, our numbers were particularly strong, but it hovers around 5,000. About half of that number are attendees, the rest being a mix of exhibitors, vendors, staff, press, and VIPs. The event will include about 350 exhibitors this year.
Where do your attendees come from? Do you have any international visitors?
The bulk of attendees are from the United States, and mostly from Texas, California and the Northeast corridor.
About 10% are international participants, with the largest number coming from Canada and the second largest number coming from Nigeria.
Who are your attendees?
Most of our attendees are middle management, but we do have some senior executives who come for networking and to meet their friends. There is a lot of best practice and idea sharing, which is one of the purposes of the event.
We also are starting to see a large number of student attendees primarily through the work of our foundation. We offer several accredited degree program that are attractive to students.
With so many older managers nearing retirement age, there is a growing need for a younger workforce to be trained to fill the gap. We have a 100% placement rate from our accredited degree program and the pay very, very good.
What kind of exhibitors attend the event?
We have all the major providers like ISS and CBRE. But we have also had Google and Home Depot. As technology becomes more important, facility managers are being expected to have greater technical sophistication.
One of our directors is from Google and he said they were debating whether to hire an IT person and teach them facility management, or hire a facility management person and teach them IT.
This suggests that there will be a growing interest in technology from our exhibitors, as well as from our members about our educational programs.
Are you offering any new tracks in the education sessions?
Our program is fairly stable from year-to-year, but it does change every three or four years. Right now we are very technology focused. The technology track has the largest following followed Workplace Evolutionaries and then leadership skills.
Also with the millennial generation joining the workforce, we have several topics and sessions focused on that issue. Learning how to work with different generations and pay attention their specific need has become an area of growing interest.
What can attendees expect from your show?
We have many people coming each year for the first time and some who haven’t missed the show since 1985. We offer an orientation for first timers to make sure they get the maximum benefit from their conference experience.
We have several pre-conference activities and we close the event with an awards banquet that highlights this year’s notable achievements in the profession. Our sponsors, like ISS and JLL, hold parties every year to increase networking opportunities.
What are some of the trends you see among your attendees?
In addition to technology, sustainability seems to be the new focus and it has been integrated into most of our tracks.
But this year, implementing modern technology systems, getting everything wired, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is huge. So those two areas, technology and the way that we work, are two hot trends and topics this year.
Are there publications or white papers that attendees can access?
Last year we started a knowledge library - like a custom Googles for facility managers. It contains many white papers and other types of reference material. We also publish the Facility Management Journal that comes out every other month.
Do you have webinars or online events to propagate knowledge to the public?
We offer many webinars, including World Workplaces for Europe, India, China, and Asia, as well as on for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The World Workplace is well established and already on everyone’s calendar. So, it is unnecessary to put much effort into promoting it during this conference.
Do you have a system where people can download presentations?
All the conference proceedings are listed on our web site and anyone who registers for the conference has access. But the material is not open to the public until we move it over to the Knowledge Library.