We attended the American Society of Association Executives’ annual meeting (ASAE) this year (as we do every year) and even after dealing with the hassles of purchasing carpet, setting up a booth, and comparing your booth to those handing out free margaritas (yes, this happened), we will be attending next year’s conference to go through it all over again. What makes ASAE so intriguing for both attendees and exhibitors? What can we take away from this extravaganza and weave into our own meetings and conferences?
We walked away from ASAE 2016 with 4 Secrets to a Successful Meeting. Sure, there are more, but ASAE does these 4 things “to a T”, and you can do them too.
1: Put (almost) NO limits on your market
If you’ve been to ASAE, you’ve seen the wide range of exhibitors and attendees (over 5000 in 2016 – see image below at the opening celebration). From large markets like hotels and cities to small and specific markets like AMCs and LMSes, ASAE does not limit their registrant list. And the best part? – Everyone is having a great time. By having a more diverse audience, your attendees can interact and make connections with industries they may have never considered before. And if not, at least they can go check out the phenomenal displays (last year Dubai set up a multi-story exhibit complete with rooms and lounges).
2: Offer content that brings people together – think human experiences
Even if you have a very specific audience (because #1 doesn’t work in your case), make your keynote stand out to every single human. At ASAE this year, Captains Mark and Scott Kelly, NASA Astronauts blew the audience away with their keynote on “Rocket Men. To Infinity and Beyond! U.S. Navy pilots. NASA astronauts. American heroes.” The twitter engagement was incredible (#ASAE16). The keynote catered to the fact that we are all human and would all be intrigued by the astronauts’ incredible journey.
3. Utilize technology
Raise your hand if you used your ASAE mobile app. I know my hand is raised right now. There is so much going on at this conference, I would have been lost without it. Even if you don’t have the tools to develop an app, provide the same resources via email day of. The most useful for me was an overview of the schedule and the map. I saw these items many times prior to the conference, but when you are in a new city surrounded by people you don’t know, your phone can be a nice safety net to tell you exactly what session to go to and how to get there (…and that there’s a coffee shop conveniently located 1 block north). Oh, and offering free Wi-Fi is a must.
4. Make it fun
Nobody really LOVES to sit through 8 hours of sessions mixed with exhibit halls and fancy food that WILL put you to sleep if you eat one more bite. As the event provider, you need to add as much engagement as possible, in every single session. Create specific hashtags for each session, or send a quiz via your mobile app. Try to be creative, but at least do something to spice it up. ASAE creates this environment from the beginning with an opening celebration like you’ve never seen before. Yes, acrobatic dancers on the side of a glass building works great:
If you were there and didn’t stop by our booth, you missed out, but don’t worry you can request a demo or contact us and we will answer all of your eLearning questions.
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