The 2020 ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition had the highest registration number in the 100-year history of the event. With 14,108 association professionals, consultants, and industry partners registered for the meeting taking place August 10-12, 2020, with 71 percent of those being first-time attendees. Participants were inspired by three engaging keynote speakers and participated in more than 92 education sessions, five Game Changers, and explored 57 virtual exhibit booths representing technology, business, hospitality, and meeting services.
The final attendance breakdown included: 12,813 executives, 544 exhibitors, 207 industry partners, 433 consultants, and 111 others including press, vendors, and staff. The ratio of buyer to sellers was 95 percent buyers to 5 percent sellers.
“I am proud to lead an organization which, even during unpredictable times of change and uncertainty, can provide a much needed space for the association community to come together, share ideas, and have critical conversations that will guide associations to future success,” said Susan Robertson, CAE, ASAE President and CEO. “Throughout the last year of ASAE’s Centennial celebrations we looked back at the lasting impact associations have had on society over the last 100 years. If the overwhelming response to the 2020 ASAE Virtual Annual Meeting is any indication, we can expect the association community to act when called upon, starting with COVID-19 response and legislation, along with the fight for racial equality. I hope the theme of Virtual Annual Meeting will inspire other associations to ‘Make Your Mark’ in this next chapter of history.”
COVID-19 is impacting the association community at all levels. When determining the pricing structure for the event, ASAE considered the potential effect on individuals’ economic ability to participate in professional development programs like the Annual Meeting. The decision to offer a free or discounted virtual experience allowed over 10,000 individuals, who had previously not been able to attend due to travel or budget restrictions, the opportunity to participate for the first time.
Throughout the event attendees shared that the price point and virtual setting made the content, and connections with fellow association professionals, accessible to them for the first time. Another benefit of the virtual event attendees took advantage of was the on-demand session recordings. Many commented that unlike the in-person experience, they were not forced to choose between sessions as they could go back to view sessions taking place in overlapping time slots, or re-watch those that they found of particular interest.
On Monday, Leon Logothetis, Global adventurer, motivational speaker, philanthropist, and author/creator of book and Netflix show, The Kindness Diaries, set the tone for the meeting with his opening keynote presentation about using kindness to find the good in others and individually. He used excerpts from his adventures traveling the globe on a yellow motorcycle to encourage attendees to stop leaving their kindness at the door as they walk into work, but instead bring it to the forefront in order to achieve goals, and create a ripple effect of kindness that will touch all areas of their organizations and beyond.
Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder of Our Place, Founder of NowVentures, and Co-Founder & Founding CEO of the Malala Fund, began the second day of the meeting with a keynote that offered attendees a glimpse into how growing up as a female in Pakistan laid the foundation for how she approached her role as a leader in uncertain times. Shahid called attendees and the organizations they represent the guardians of civilization and implored them to choose to be guided by hope, and not fear, to have the greatest impact on society.
The event’s closing keynote speaker, Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation for Disney, shared insights on how to innovate during a time of crisis. Wardle began by stating that diversity is innovation. If someone doesn’t look like you, they don’t think like you, and they can help you think differently. In addition to highlighting the importance of diversity, he shared a list of tools to encourage creativity and innovation among teams. This included scheduling time to talk through successful ideas inside and outside of your industry with your colleagues once a week. Not having time is the biggest barrier to innovation, and when you dedicate time, creativity and innovation will follow.
Next year’s ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition will be held in Dallas, Texas, August 14-17, 2021, at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center.
ASAE thanks the following Alliance Partners for their continued support of the association community:
Destination Canada Business Events
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB
Naylor Association Solutions
Discover Puerto Rico
DelCor Technology Solutions
Visit Salt Lake
Visit San Jose
IMIS by Advanced Solutions International
Maritz Global Events
Discover the Palm Beaches
Dubai Association Centre
Korea Tourism Organization
Singapore Tourism Board