Friday, August 27, 2010

More Thoughts on #ASAE10

I knew that I had to get my thoughts out yesterday as early as possible because a much more eloquent post from Maddie Grant would be on its way. If you haven't read it yet, you should, especially the comments.

I wanted to write a bit more regarding some comments left on both posts. Michelle (@ExpoQueenUSA) asked some good questions, which I will answer from my perspective.

1) Did they plan the activities, sessions, and expo according to the needs of those attending? - I would say yes. A few speakers fell flat, but nobody bats 1,000. And it is hard to have one conference covering such a vast array of attendees. I think that is why the MMC and Tech Conference are so popular. They are more laser focused.

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) - Totally, 100%

3)Did they encourage and enable all parties to communicate, connect, and ENGAGE with each other? - Encourage yes, enable mostly. Others and I mentioned the layout issues didn't help.

4) Were they "hospitable" and make the conference more about their guest (me) than about themselves? - This one is dicey. ASAE was truly hospitable. I have never met a staff person that wasn't super friendly and helpful. However, as noted, the general session stuff was much more about ASAE than the attendees.

5) Did they spend their money wisely on things that will help me go home fulfilled, or were they wasteful? - The only truly wasteful thing I saw was the Guilt by Association video. I skipped Joy Behar, but to me, if they paid her, then that is a big waste.

I would add a 6th question, which I think is what both Maddie and I were trying to address: What could be done better for next time?

Tammy had a great comment suggesting some behind the scenes sessions given by ASAE staff about how they planned the conference. Brilliant! I know not everyone in attendance is ready for cutting edge. Some would just love to know how it was done. What an opportunity!

A few other suggestions I will throw out for fodder:
- For the second time in 3 years, I led a session at the request of ASAE that was a sort of idea swap for trade associations. It was again, very well received. I would love to see a dedicated time slot that was dedicated to various idea swaps. The non-DC folks don't get to witness the greatness that is these swaps. Bring them to annual for all to enjoy. Maybe as that last Tuesday lunch session.

- Have an un-conference room during each session slot. Why not?

- Have the show floor open Monday and Tuesday instead of Sunday and Monday. That way booth tear down doesn't prevent exhibitor staff from attending anything.

- Add a space for Twitter handle on the name badge. Can't hurt to ask.

Looking back, I found my posts regarding 2009 and 2008 ASAE Annuals. Looks like I already suggested the idea swap thing. One bummer, I see several themes emerging. Need more education slots. Need less cheese factor in general sessions. As Maddie and others have said, I hope the right folks are listening.

And again - thank you ASAE for all you do. You truly have a tough job keeping all of us happy.

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.

**PS**
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.