Friday, August 17, 2012

ASAE12 Wrap-Up--My 5 Takeaways

So many thoughts about the ASAE Annual meeting I just recovered returned from, so little time to distill them into a coherent blog post while catching up on regular life. So rather than sit here and agonize over coming up with pithy commentary, I figured I'd just go with the tried-and-true list format:

  1. Mobile apps are essential to conference-goers of today. As of early 2012, 88% of American adults had a cell phone, and of those, 53% are smartphones. The chances that your conference attendees have and use a smartphone is pretty high, and is only going to get higher. Which method of navigating a huge, confusing convention center is more useful: hauling out a heavy paper planner and flipping through pages searching for the room for the session you're headed to, or pulling out your phone and checking the conference app? Exactly. And just being able to say you have an app isn't good enough--the app needs to be useful to attendees and fully functional. I had a great conversation with super-smart Jeff Hurt about this and he showed me some really great apps--check out CrowdCompass if you want to see what a really good, functional conference app can look like. I will say I did like the ASAE 12 iPad app, but it just doesn't work to have separate iPhone and iPad apps. 
  2. Dallas was hot, but awesome. I stayed at the Gaylord and the Omni and both were gorgeous. Patrick and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary at Stephen Pyles, which was as foodie-good as it was billed as being. Cowboy stadium was awesome, even for a person who doesn't watch football. 
  3. You can learn as much poolside as you can learn in sessions. The sessions I went to were good, but I learned just as much, if not more, from casual conversations with friends both old and new--even when some of those conversations took place in the pool.
  4. Twitter is an integral part of events. A few years ago, Twitter was only used by early adopters. Now Twitter use during events is basically obligatory, and your attendees do use it as a customer service channel in their everyday lives and will expect the same at your event. I wrote about this on the ASAE blog too, but basically, if you're involved in meeting planning, I strongly suggest adding social media and online engagement skills to your already-packed job description. Yes, it's a pain and time-consuming, but you're doing yourself a huge disservice dismissing it because whether it's Twitter or another platform, a blending of online and offline is the future of events, like it or not. If you were following the #asae12 hashtag you know what I'm talking about (Twitter search is notoriously unreliable/short-lived, so sorry if you're reading this post sometime way after I've written it and no Tweets are showing....before/during/after the conference there were tons of Tweets.)
  5. I'm so mad I missed the closing party. See video for why.

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