August 13, 2009
By Judy Kent, Experient
Thanks to all who attended our session at e4. I hope you all enjoyed the topic. We loved the passion that you all showed in coming up with “What will the meetings of the future look like?”. We looked at five burning areas/questions and focused our attention on them. Below is a recap that you as a group developed through your sharing. Stay tuned for a great study that will be released in October from Oxford Economics on this very topic. It will be very educational and pivotal to our industry. We will post it once we received.
1. Grow/Retain Membership and Attendance – What role do conventions and meetings play in increasing and maintaining membership for an association, driving attendance or motivating people to attend an association’s meeting? Will larger meetings be a thing of the past associations shift to smaller regional meetings costing less to produce? Do you believe associations will begin merging or partnering with other similar accredited associations to build attendance?
August 11, 2009
Debbi Beldon, CMP — Experient
Just got back from e4 – what a terrific time we had networking with clients, partners and colleagues. I learned a lot too. For instance, I learned that people really will follow me on Twitter, even though I’m not exactly sure why yet. I learned that I need more than five hours sleep a night and apparently that I get cranky if 45 minutes goes by without eating something. I also learned that it is unwise to drink an entire Diet Coke if the session is going to be 90 minutes long and the bathroom is a mile and a half away.
But seriously, I also had the pleasure of attending the closing general session where we learned from Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US Travel Association about what’s going on with the events industry.
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August 4, 2009
By Jennifer Sommers, InterContinental Hotels
Wow, Gaylord National really rolled out the red carpet to welcome us all to e4, 2009!
The view of the Potomac alone out of that massive front window at sunset was something to see. I also enjoyed the music of all kinds but I have to say my favorite was the Mariachi band. I, for one, will have a particular song running through my head today; a little ditty you may recognize that begins with; “Ey, yi, yi, yi…”
The food was just awesome. Lamb, lobster, scallops, short ribs, potatoes, pizza, salsa’s, etc. I don’t think a thing was missed. Frankly, if you couldn’t find something to eat you just weren’t looking.
It was great to see everyone together in one place as well after chatting about the event to come over the past couple of months. In the first 8 hours I’ve already met a dozen or so new contacts and picked up the ball on a conversation I’d been having with someone via this very e4 blog! Of course it’s always great to see old friends as well as making new acquaintences while we all gear up for what will surely be an informative few days to come.
What a wonderful kick off and a night to remember!
July 23, 2009
By Nicole Buraglio – Hanley Wood Exhibitions
A trade show staff equipped with the best customer service techniques doesn’t cut it anymore, especially in this environment where the economy and technology are changing on what feels like a daily basis. What, then, can we offer our customers that will blow them away? That will make them choose us over the competition? That will help us retain customers when turnover is high?
Think about customer service as it pertains to you and your favorite restaurant—the one you’ve been frequenting for many years. You go there twice a month, on Mondays; you know the owner and the wait staff. Heck, you even order the same thing (most of the time). What would happen if you walked in one Monday and you were just another customer? Hint: You wouldn’t like it.
It’s critical we continue to treat our loyal customers as if they’re friends or family. Besides, they spend a ton of money with us every year and they stick with us, even when the rest of the industry struggles to do so at best.
As trade show organizers, we need to find a way to communicate to our customers that we know and appreciate them. At my company, we spent last year developing customer portals that allow our exhibitors and attendees to see their history with us, find out what’s coming up that may be of interest to them (based on their demographics and habits) and plan for the future—across ALL of our events.
Our booth space application and contracts are now online and pre-populate based on what we know about the individual companies, our customers, signing up.
The response has been huge. And, while it was—and continues to be—a lot of work, it is a simple concept. At a time like this, when everything seems to be up in the air and out of control, we need to focus on the fundamentals.