Thursday, August 26, 2010

10 Thoughts on #ASAE10

Ok, so I could have spelled out the title, but chose the hashtag - #asae10. Supposedly there were over 8,000 tweets with the hashtag, but probably countless more direct messages of messages that left out the hashtag but were conference related. Two years ago, we were using twitter as a backchannel to talk about speakers. Now, over 800 people sent conference related tweets. If you aren't on Twitter, you are already late to the party. Anyway, on with the post...

In no particular order, my thoughts on this years ASAE Annual Conference:
1. LA was a good venue. Lots to do. Hotels close by. Only downside was the rooms were a bit of a hike.

2. I missed Sunday because of family obligations. That really put me behind the 8 ball. Since I led a session, that meant I only got to go to 3 true sessions. Sorry, I don't count Joy Behar and the closing session. Although Marshall Goldsmith was good, I probably wouldn't have gone to see that speech as a Learning Lab.

3. Based on #2, I think ASAE has to look at the schedule again. There just aren't enough time slots for education sessions, and too many offerings during each slot.

4. I was surprised at how many sessions weren't recorded. When I did have a conflict of multiple sessions I wanted to go to, I looked at the book to see which one(s) were recorded to help make my decision. Many times, every one wasn't being recorded. As many of the sessions touted how easy and cheap it is to record, this was a surprise.

5. I know many are talking about it, Guilt by Association. I only saw the episodes on the last day, but that was more than enough. Take that budget and spend it on AV to record more sessions.

6. Some others and I talked about this conference in relation to Great Ideas. I would really like to see them really distinguish themselves with regards to level of education. I know you need a mix, but I would like to see it more defined.

7. Free wifi and the bottled water was tremendous. Every meeting needs this.

8. I liked not having the show floor on Tuesday. I know some exhibitors complained about the Sunday session overlap, but that's ok with me.

9. I am very curious to hear from those who were the Virtual attendees.

10. At the end of the day, it is all about people. No matter what, the meeting was AWESOME because I got to see some of the smartest, coolest people I know and spend time meeting new, smart, cool friends.

I do want to state that overall I loved the conference. These are just my random critiques/observations. ASAE does a great job. I don't envy them one bit in having to put on an association conference for people who put on association conferences. Talk about open for criticism. But ASAE does a good job of taking it in stride, listening and trying to make adjustments. Just another reason I wanted to be sure to get this stuff down.


Jeff Hurt said...



It was great to meet you in person! It's really about the people; especially those that you've met digitally and want connect F2F.

I agree with #3 that the schedule needs some major revamping and #5 - the sitcom was, well, outdated and not necessary. I think Mike Huckabee's TV show is scoring higher ratings than the Guilt By Association sitcom - and that's not saying much. Put the money into better general session speakers that wow us and stop with all the video advertisements! These were the worst general sessions I've ever seen and I've been to a lot.

Free wifi and bottled water were two additional highlights for sure. More conferences should follow their model!

Meeting friends for face time, a couple homerun education sessions, free wifi, bottled water and the parties were my highlights for sure.

Frank Fortin said...

I could be wrong on this, Matt, but I think it's up to session speakers to say whether their sessions are recorded. At least it was for mine ... I remember signing off with a "yes" for ours (after checking with my co-presenters). I assume this opt-in thing is true for all sessions...?

Bill said...

Enjoyed your top 10, Matt. As an exhibitor, I was bummed at how much education I missed, but I know it comes along with the gig.

I'd like to add to number 7: I learned in the exhibitor round-up that the bottled water (and lanyards) will be more sustainable next year. It was a real bummer that there weren't more recycling outlets on the floor and throughout LACC.

Matt Baehr said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Jeff - Likewise, glad we were able to connect IRL. Frank - I don't remember being asked about my session, but I know I wouldn't have said no. Bill - I think only one session overlapped with education, but I guess more if you had to tear down your booth. Glad to here it will be green-ed up a bit for 2011.

Dave Will said...

Love this post, Matt. And I agree with most of them.

I just want to emphasize the people part. Being a vendor that provides online learning, I'm very accustomed to the phone, web and video, but I have never lost touch with the importance of face to face interactivity.

I LOVED seeing my friends and building relationships in 3 categories:

- clients
- prospects
- other vendors and competitors

One thing I thought was really cool was how openly we and our competitors were with each other. Despite the battlefields, we sincerely enjoy each other, the business and the industry.

It's all about the people to me.

Dave Will

David said...

I would add that the quality of the education sessions varied greatly. I went to a few stinkers but also went to some great ones. For example, the Ben Martin and Sterling Rafael session "Connecting Industry Associations Through Collaboration and Sharing" had few people but was excellent.

Tammy T. said...

Matt - great list of your experience in LA, and like you, I think ASAE does a good job of taking feedback in stride and looking for ways to improve.

I echo your comment about more education slots (#3).

I also think if they're going to do two days of unopposed exhibit hall scheduling, they need to make it compelling to go into the hall the second day - beyond lunch. An innovation theater showcasing X vendors who provide similar services, or offered replays of sessions from the previous day, taught people how to use Twitter and why they might want to, or offered education about 'behind the scenes at ASAE10'(how and why do we get books for everyone, how does the daily paper work, how are they monitoring the #ASAE10 hashtag and why, what they hope to achieve by giving away iPads and Kindles in the bookstore, etc.).

All in all, though, a great experience.

Peggy Hoffman said...

Great piece ... and yes it's about the people and its about setting your own expectations ahead of time. One person complained to me that they didn't see the full value. Another said it was the best ever. The diff - one looking for value, the other expecting it.

Michelle (ExpoQueenUSA) said...

As an event planner myself, I tend to be critical and a bit opinionated of others who plan expos and conferences. Here are 5 hard questions I like ask to evaluate how well the event mgt team did to create a positive experience. (Yes, these are in a particular order, and yes I do use these to guide me!) 1) Did they plan the activities, sessions, and expo according to the needs of those attending? 2) Did they communicate their travel info, schedule of events, etc. successfully with attendees, exhibitors and speakers, etc before the show? (In print, email, online) 3)Did they encourage and enable all parties to communicate, connect, and ENGAGE with each other? 4) Were they "hospitable" and make the conference more about their guest (me) than about themselves? 5) Did they spend their money wisely on things that will help me go home fullfilled, or were they wasteful?

So now I do you think ASAE measured up?

Jeffrey Cufaude said...

ASAE does ask if you want your session recorded. I'd be one of those people who might frustrate you Matt as I tend to not allow recording more than 30% of the session will be interactive or in group work.

Maybe I should rethink that, but I don't want people who pay for a recording to be upset that they get a lot of dead air from an interactive session.

Matt Baehr said...

Jeffery - Totally agree. Some sessions shouldn't be recorded because they don't lend themselves to be based on format. However, I also think you can invest in some wireless microphones and capture a lot of the good content too.