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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e4 Wrapup — “Technology and the Future of Meetings”

August 14, 2009

Mike at podium alternate 800X800Michael M McCurry, CMPExperient

As many of you know Experient concluded its 2009 e4 Conference on Wednesday, 8/5 with a free live webcast of the panel discussion “Technology and the Future of Meetings.” Great news  — if you missed the live version of this event, a free archive of the webcast is available for post event viewing.  To access it click here.

Approximately 300 ppl were present in the live audience for the event and another 216 participated virtually. The Experient  official hashtag #e4chat drew 44 active Twitter users, some onsite at the event and the rest participating from cyberspace.  To view a recap of that entire chat transcript please click here.

The session featured the following oustanding panelists:

  • Stephen Nold (Moderator) – Advon Technologies
  • Nicole Buraglio – Hanley Wood Exhibitions
  • Mike Immerwahr – Microsoft
  • RD Whitney – Tarsus Online Media
panel closeup

(L to R) Mike Immerwahr, Nicole Buraglio, RD Whitney, Stephen Nold

For a recap of the discussion during this session about social media as well as the rest of the conference please visit my personal blog, McCurry’s Corner and view the article entitled “The New Business Culture.” There really were some terrific insights about the future of technology presented.

Adrian tweeting

Adrian Mabry posting on "Tweetdeck"

A remarkable aspect of this event was the fluidity of dialogue exchanged between the live and cyber audience via Twitter.  It felt like those folks tweeting from afar were right there in the room with us.  The panel fielded questions from the live audience, but more significantly they responded to the cyber participants as well.  This is the essence and spirit of a hybrid event!!

Face2Face Meetings are so important to the culture of doing business, but it is crystal clear to me that social media will play a critical role in enhancing the reach and value of these events for months and years to come. Please make sure you watch the archive version of the webcast.  You don’t want to miss it and we would love your feedback!

Question — In your opinion what is the next step to raising the bar in creating educational content that is viewable both live and from cyberspace?  I look forward to your comments.

Final Notes from e4 Cafe “The Evolving Value Proposition of F2F Association Meetings”

August 13, 2009

Judy kent profileBy 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?

Special Event – What about Bob?

July 7, 2009

BHoulihanBy Brenda Houlihan Experient

A key networking component of many conferences is the special event or gala. In the midst of planning, like most, I get tied up in the budget and tasks, forgetting it is suppose to be a fun and memorable event.

With so many different personalities in meeting planning.  It is very easy to forget the attendee demographic!  With one of my clients, I stress this and call it the “Bob” factor.  One of Experient’s Senior Managers is Bob, who embodies the age, education level, income, taste and travel experience of this group’s typical attendee.  Bob is a living, breathing example that I use during the planning process to solicit a typical attendee response.

Not all of us have a “Bob” at our disposal.  However, “Bob” is quite helpful as an example when the event organizer may be resorting to personal tastes rather than what “Bob” would respond to or enjoy.  Leave your personality and taste at the door and create a memorable event for “Bob” – your median expectation level.

A few years ago, I was working with a client on a gala dinner at an offsite venue in a resort destination.  I relied upon the client’s tastes versus the attendee demographics (aka Bob) and it did not produce the results we had hoped.  Lesson learned: the following year, we re-examined the group demographics.

Another helpful tip is I asked the client to offer three adjectives to describe their perfect event. The three words to describe the event were food, fun and activity. The sit down meal was replaced with action stations in one of the most popular nightclubs in Las Vegas.  The cost of the night club rental was reasonable because it was before they opened for the evening. After dinner, guests were treated to a Cirque du Soleil show. To say the least, the response was overwhelmingly positive.  Basically, it was all about Bob…and Bob was happy.

State of the Industry

July 1, 2009

David GauthreauxBy David Gauthreaux – Freeman

How many times have you read or watched news shows about the economy in the last several months?  If you Google economic conditions in the United States you will get more than 37 million hits.

The reason I talk about this is that the Exhibition Industry is not immune to the economic restraints we are experiencing.   In 2008, the Industry was down significantly for the first time since 2003.  Even though we face a unique set of challenges that could greatly affect recovery, we continue to see that companies still value the face-to-face marketing strategies.

That’s because face-to-face is core to human relationships.  Why do you think people flock to the Super Bowl, inaugurations, concerts, etc.? When people meet face-to-face, trust is established, ideas are exchanged, business occurs, relationships are built, and so on.  Think of the great events in history – would Martin Luther King’s speech have been as effective if he had given it over the radio instead of in front of thousands of people?  Even though we can access information through the internet, TV, radio, etc. – we still thrive on the live experience.
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Getting the WOW without the WHOA!

June 23, 2009

BHoulihanBy Brenda Houlihan Experient

In today’s current economic conditions, are you trying to do more for less?  Many clients are forced to drastically cut budgets because events have become lightning rods for criticism. Does this mean that we have to abandon the WOW of a special event because we do not want to risk the WHOA of procurement or public opinion?

Most of my client’s conferences and events include a special event or gala, which are integral to creating networking opportunities or expanding bonding activities. Many companies are concerned about perception and want to steer away from conspicuous consumption. Trying to show financial responsibility, they are cutting decor, entertainment, as well as adding control mechanisms like drink tickets.  Does BACK to BASIC mean we need to abandon the WOW??
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F2F Networking

June 8, 2009

Headshot_BReedBy Bill Reed – Experient

A colleague was recently telling me that she hates going to events where she will be in a room full of people and not know anyone, and I am just the opposite.  I LOVE that environment in contrast to her feelings.  She is quite the networker, yet she is more comfortable in an online chat room than in the F2F room.  Again, we are opposites.  When I reflected upon that, I wondered if the difference between us is that I have been taught how to do it, while many people just find themselves in the situation and have not had the benefit of knowing how to do it.  Most people get thrown into the pool of networking without instruction.

I was fortunate in that some of my teachings came from the best… politician of a father, professional mentors who excelled in networking, but mostly through attending an ASAE breakout session (decades ago, unfortunately) where the speaker was the venerable Susan Roanne.  She is an expert networker and has written many books on the topic.  I re-read these periodically to brush up on the basics and I can always hear Susan’s voice as I turn each page. 

One of the most difficult aspects of working a room is the entry into a conversation and the exit from the conversation, Read the rest of this entry »