connections conference news

October 2016
Vol. 15, Number 8

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
Member News

Register Now for the 2017 QRCA Conference – Here Are Three Reasons Why

Kate Wagenlander Watson,
Jeff Walkowski,

QRCA 2017 Annual Conference

As this was written, the final touches were being implemented on the QRCA Conference website to lay out all of the details that you need in full accuracy and completion. The excitement is building among the 18 hard-working member volunteers who are doing their utmost to put on the best conference ever — not to mention the dozens of speakers who are in the process of writing and polishing their presentations. And really, we mean the best conference ever!

Of course, you can show up at the door on January 18, 2017 and still buy your “pass” to the conference, but there are good reasons to not wait until then. Here are three of them.

Early Registration Discount
By the time you read this, registration for the QRCA 2017 Annual Conference will have been open for at least two weeks. If you’ve already registered, then GREAT! If you’ve not yet registered, be sure to do so on the QRCA website by December 19, 2016 to take advantage of the early-bird pricing!

Unique Workshop Opportunity
With no sugar-coating, this is one of the many touches that make us absolutely giddy! If you’ve registered, then you’ve already been entered into the pool of early-bird registrants who have a chance to participate in a unique workshop at the conference. Those who register by October 31, 2016 may opt-in to a drawing for one of just 20 “seats” to take part in a Free Listening Workshop hosted by Benjamin Mathes, who is the founder of Urban Confessional: A Free Listening Project ( as well as one of our conference speakers. He will introduce his perspective to these lucky QRCs in a special Wednesday night workshop. (Be sure to check out the other article in this issue of Connections that describes his presentation in greater detail.)

The Workshop will be held during Dine-Arounds. (Don’t worry, though — you’ll still get to eat!) Those selected to participate will first be briefed by Benjamin on the principles and guidelines of Free Listening. Then, participants will scatter throughout the hotel neighborhood, standing in public areas with foot traffic, holding a piece of torn cardboard with “Free Listening” scrawled on it, and waiting for passers-by to take advantage of the opportunity to be listened to. No agenda. No discussion guides. No observers through a one-way mirror. No reports. Just you and a stranger — you listening to them about whatever they want to share. Afterward, all Listeners will convene at a restaurant to share their experiences. So, it’ll be a hands-on learning opportunity and a dine-around — wrapped together into one amazing evening experience. This will help participants to rekindle their sensitivity to the importance of listening. But remember, you must register for the conference by October 31, 2016 and opt in to the drawing to participate.

Don’t Be Left Out In The Cold
Actually, since we’ll be in L.A., we should say, “Don’t be left out in the warmth!” Currently, QRCA has a group rate of $249 per night at the conference hotel. But once the block is filled, that price will likely rise; even worse, the hotel may sell out. If you were at the last conference in Orlando and didn’t get to stay at the conference hotel, avoid the hassle of getting from another hotel to the conference hotel by booking your room early and visiting the Hotel page here.

So, are you feeling the excitement yet?! We can’t wait to share even more special touches that the Conference Committee has been working on to build into these three amazing days of carefully-curated qualitative awesomeness.

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Stretch Your Brain Before Boarding the Plane (it’s about to Get a Fun Workout!)

Mark Sumpter,
Kendall Nash,

If you expect to leave Los Angeles in January after the annual conference as the same person you were when you arrived, think again!

In the spirit of our conference theme, “The Power of Perspective,” we have a host of exciting content heading your way. We have identified the best of the best (thank you to our insightful Speaker Committee partner, Rebecca Bryant!) from a record-breaking 110 submissions to provide powerful insights with you this year from both QRCA members as well as those outside our industry. The sessions will offer a wide array of important perspectives including:

  • Consumer Perspective: Exploring the complex nature of consumers, including recall vs. actual behavior, generational differences, and their impact on research.

  • Global Perspective: Investigating change in global conditions and/or audiences and the impact on research.

  • External Perspective: Learning from other professions who listen to identify ‘truth’ — doing what we do but in a different way.

  • Reflective Perspective: Knowing and acknowledging our full self and biases that can impact the research process, analysis, and reporting.

  • Qualitative Perspective: Strengthening our expertise with both core and emerging methods.

  • Technological Perspective: Sharing new perspectives and/or techniques for leveraging technology in qualitative research.

You’ll have the opportunity to hear from well-known thinkers, like James Forr from Olson Zaltman, who will share what has been learned from psychology and the social sciences about the sins of memory and how to circumvent them to get closer to the truth. Naomi Henderson from RIVA will help us discover both “the deadly and the dynamic phrases” — those that can cause respondents to “raise their shields and those that inspire respondents to lower their shields to truly deliver below top-of-mind answers.”

Other speakers will share perspectives to help you better understand how to reach millennial consumers and leverage technology to deliver insights on a budget. For example, Raji Bonala and Misha Mathew will present the question, “Are You ‘Insta-Cool’ enough for the Millennials?” while Stacy Elsbury will share her point of view regarding “Shoestring Global: A Guide to Conquering Global Research with More Flair and Less Dinero.”

But we’re not limiting our perspective to technology, the consumer, or even only on reflecting on our own biases. At this conference, we also plan to examine our practice as qualitative consultants — in how we design, approach, and report on all we learn. Sidney Clewe (a trained graphic designer with a Bachelor of Fine Arts) will provide “practical tips to give your reports more visual appeal.”

And it wouldn’t be Hollywood if we didn’t tap into the creative and storytelling process of Hollywood and Broadway. Join Dina Shulman and Marc Engel as they offer insights from the entertainment arts and creative development process that QRCs can incorporate into their work.

So as you pack your bag in preparation for the sunshine and perhaps even a brush with fame, take a minute to also prepare your mind to be stretched in new ways of thinking. You’ll return from L.A. more prepared to tackle your clients’ needs and inspired to think more critically and creatively in all of your work.

Please check out the 2017 Annual Conference page for a complete session schedule and descriptions.

We look forward to seeing you in L.A.!

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