On our industry calendar, “A” is for August and the annual meeting and exposition of the American Society of Association Executives. So off went your intrepid blogger to be counted in with the nearly 5,500 people, including 2,625 association executives, who descended on the Greater Columbus Convention Center in central Ohio from August 10 through 13.
Experience Columbus, the city’s CVB, recruited more than 600 local volunteers to assist with the event, easily the largest number of smiling faces that ASAE has ever recruited. And, even considering the “too many to count” ASAE annuals that I have attended, I didn’t realize that this event launched its 100th year! In recognition, ASAE offered more than 100 educational sessions along with two half-days of exhibit-hall time, where more than 700 destinations, hotels, tech companies, and other vendors networked with attendees.
As you may have noticed, this reporter is always on the lookout for something innovative which adds to the event. This year it was the addition (to the routine layout of a standard convention center) of a “Smart Farm” growing fresh herbs and produce. Located between exhibit halls, this concept is the first indoor, vertical, LED-lit hydroponic garden in a convention center. Attendees got to experience “farm to table” by adding a snippet of parsley, mint, kale or thyme to their bottled water for a flavor-infused drink!
This year the ASAE Exposition was busy as Association Executives and exhibitors interacted face to face to build business relationships. New energy was added to the trade show component through the 20-minute Express Talks presenting a single idea and offering practical tips through storytelling. These “quick bites” of learning accompanied the more traditional tasty quick bites being offered for lunch on the show floor.
ConventionPlanit.com, already known as a class act, had our very own Jeeves the Butler back again this year inviting planners to tour the website. Portrayed by Al Rickard of Association Vision, Al was a “vision” himself in an elegant tuxedo highlighting the ConventionPlanit trademarked RFP Valet service which helps planners simplify the tedious RFP process.
In attendance with me were a few of the ConventionPlanit.com Sales Managers. Jo Ann Hoffman, Regional Director of Sales, Maryland joined Mara Hill Buckner, Regional Director of Sales, Chicago in staffing the booth. Also, we noticed CP.com supplier members Visit Vail Valley, Boise Convention & Visitor Bureau and Tulalip Resort Casino along with Visit Anchorage and Memphis Tourism busy educating planners on their destinations and services.
Look for the ASAE’s centennial celebration at next year’s annual event in Las Vegas…see you all there!!