Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why Attend An Association Convention?

If you are like a lot of associations, you have a significant number of “aging Boomers” attending your annual convention. They may still be active in their companies or professions but they are starting to wind down. 

A key question is will they continue to attend your conferences?

Well, I’m in Atlanta attending another annual meeting of ASAE: the Center for Association Leadership. 

This gives me a chance to share my thinking because it is probably similar to the thought process your members go through when deciding whether to attend your association’s annual conference.

I’ve been attending ASAE meetings for almost 30 years so it seems to be a “thing I do.”

It is an expensive meeting – even if your association pays for it: 

  • Registration fee (member rate): $995
  • Hotel room: $225 per night for three nights
  • Airfare: $450
  • Taxi, meals, etc.: $250
  • Total (not counting time away from office/clients): $2,370
For a blogger (or free-lancer) who pays for it from your own pocket, it may be prohibitive!

It’s doubtful that I will get $2,500 of new business opportunities because I attend.

So, why attend? After all, I am an aging association professional focused not on day-to-day association management but rather on thought leadership, blogging, speaking and consulting.

The marketing literature includes this statement:

  • What do you seek?
  • Only at the 2013 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition can you find everything you are looking for. Ideas transform into solutions with more than 120 innovative learning sessions. Challenges become accomplishments in the world-class Association Solutions Marketplace and colleagues are friends immediately after the amazing networking events.
  • Hidden messages talk about the value of the educational sessions, big name speakers, trade show (oops, it is called the Association Solutions Marketplace).
I’m not convinced this is why I attend. 
  • I attend because I’m an association professional and feel a sense of duty to join other professionals in celebrating association management.
  • I like to attend to see colleagues who I’ve met over the years and to meet new professionals.
  • I’m facilitating one of those 120 innovative learning sessions.
Now, that is probably the key reason. So, then I ask, if I was not a speaker, would I attend? Probably not.

As you think about the “aging Boomers” who have been key elements of your association and its meetings, I’m guessing they are going through this same value/cost question. Are you prepared for a future when they are retired and not attending your meetings?

And, as Boomers retire and stop coming, what changes are you making to the meeting so it attracts Gen Xers and Millenials?

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