ASAE 2009 — A Virtual View From the Cheap Seats!

August 19, 2009

Mike at podium alternate 800X800By Michael M McCurry, CMPExperient

This week I attended the ASAE Annual Meeting in Toronto, but the cool thing is I didn’t have to fly there.  I was a virtual participant!

While I obviously was not able to experience the normal networking and social opportunities that go along with physically attending a conference I was able to at least experience a significant portion of the educational content. Utilizing a live Twitter stream, marked by Hashtag #ASAE09, I attended three General Sessions (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) following the tweets posted by virtual and live attendees.  It was a very positive and interactive experience!  Sunday’s opening session featured Gary Hamel, and was outstanding, and I wrote a blog article recapping it from the tweets that were posted.

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Co-Creation in Process

July 21, 2009

Headshot_LBanksBy Laura Banks – International Alliance of Avaya Users (InAAU)

While I was listening to all of the sessions last year at the e4 event, I began to think about my association and our annual conference. I have been the Conference Coordinator for the last 13 years and we have held the conference the same way. The conference always starts on Sunday at noon and ends on Thursday at noon. We always have general session Monday through Wednesday morning. We always have the welcome event on Sunday night. We always ….

We do a survey at the end of the conference and get feedback from the attendees and I read every one of them.  And I take them to heart. “What do they mean, they don’t like the food? I picked great food.” “What do you mean the hotel rate was too high! Don’t they know what I went through to get this hotel?” “I knew they would like that keynote speaker, because I know exactly what my conference attendees like.” “Of course, if InAAU has a conference our members will be there.” Well, some of them will be there… at least, if the world doesn’t have an economic problem…or a major flu outbreak.

As I sat (over drinks) in Vancouver with a couple of my board members and our Experient leader last year, I said

  • “Do we really know what our attendees want?”
  • “Are we really giving them what they want?
  • “Should we be doing something different?”
  • “Could we be doing something different that would encourage more attendance?”

Experient got us in contact with Dan Sundt and thus began a process that so far has taken us about 10 months.  Dan introduced our whole Planning Team to the Co-Creation principles and then worked with the Team and other key players to get to know InAAU and our principle sponsor (and partner) Avaya. He went through the planning cycle with us and then attended the annual conference and interviewed our attendees. He is now ready to share his recommendations (on July 25) and we will build our goals and will be ready to share the rest of the story at e4. Join Danielle Cote with Sage Software and Pam Fueshko and myself from InAAU at our session Co-Creation Case Studies for “the rest of the story”.

Co-Creation: Too Good To Be True

July 16, 2009

Headshot_DCoteBy Danielle Cote – Sage Software

At last year’s e4 Conference, we learned the fundamentals of co-creation and its application to events. That’s when the light bulb went off. The creative spark was brighter and clearer than ever before. It was then that I decided to implement co-creation as a vehicle to improve session quality.

It’s obvious that improving session quality is instrumental in driving success and growth. But in 2009, it was more basic than that. In effect, delivering value through richer education would not only sustain our survival but also fuel long-term growth and success. Along the way, we learned it gave us a competitive edge. With limited travel/education budgets, attendees were more prudent and judicious in their decision-making. This propelled a shift in our messaging and focus. The bottom-line, we wanted to win their loyalty, trust and investment.

So…with 500 breakouts; 70 Computer Labs; 150-unique speakers and 2500+ attendees, could the “Co-Creation Concept” really work? Or, like past endeavors, would I simply be herding cats?

The truth will be revealed at the “Co-Creation” Exchange Cafe. Can Co-Creation work for you? Don’t miss this café to learn all about it plus more.

8 Creative Techniques For Avoiding/Reducing Attrition Expense

June 24, 2009
Michael McCurry

Michael McCurry

By Michael M. McCurry, CMPExperient

In April, Experient hosted three Meetings and Events industry forums in Chicago, St. Louis and Washington DC.  Experient team members, as well as prominent association and corporate executives met to discuss and brainstorm hot industry topics.  This is the third in a three part series of articles recapping the highlights of those events.

Coinciding with renegotiation of a hotel contract is the sometimes painful topic of attrition.  In these tough economic times room block performance has become a pervasive issue with most organizations hosting meetings and events.

Thinking creatively and acting proactively is paramount to alleviating, or at the very least minimizing attrition risk.  The following are some suggested techniques for addressing this issue.funny hotel cartoon

  • Mitigation Clause — Make certain you get credit for “re-sold rooms”.  If your hotel contract does not contain a provision crediting your organization for room nights resold by the hotel request that it be added to it.
  • Attrition Buyout — If you are certain your event will have an attrition expense then offer an early payment in exchange for a reduction to the liability.  For example if you believe you will owe $100K, negotiate to pay a smaller amount (i.e. $50K) several months in advance.  The hotel deposits the funds earning interest on them, and enhancing their cash flow.
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Pecha What?

June 4, 2009

Headshot_DanSundtBy Dan Sundt, Chief eXperience Officer – CXO Marketing, Inc.

How many times have you sat close to the door at a conference education or breakout session just so you could escape quickly if the speaker was deadly boring?   Similarly, how often have you murmured to yourself or a neighbor that a presenter could have used one-third the time to communicate their message even more clearly?

I think, as event professionals, we have ignored for far too long what is easily the least engaging aspect of most of our meetings; lecture based education.  While there are always good operational reasons for a bad experience, it is still a bad experience for the audience when sessions are one-sided, drawn-out, lack interaction, or delivered by Dr. Dull.

Though a variety of tactics can be used to better education sessions and differentiate them from virtual solutions, one method is particularly intriguing.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pecha Kucha (pronounced “pe-choch-ka”). Read the rest of this entry »