Meetings, They Are A-Changin’

As 2015 wraps up, associations are considering major changes to their meeting formats to better benefit attendees and vendors. Here’s a glimpse at how three associations will reimagine their meetings and conventions in 2016 and beyond.

Guess what? You’re reading the last Associations Now meetings blog post of 2015. The end of the year is  a good time not only to reflect and look back on everything you’ve accomplished but also to set goals and resolutions for changes you’d like to make in the year ahead.

With the latter in mind, I’ve come across several associations in the past few weeks that have decided 2016 and beyond is a good time to rethink and reimagine their meetings. So there’s no better time than now to take a look at three of them along with the motivations and reasons behind the changes.

Better industry alignment. Earlier this week SnowSports Industries America announced that its SIA Snow Show would be reinvented with an updated format and timeframe. Beginning in 2017, the opening date will move to the first Tuesday of December—from its current late January timeframe—to better align with the industry’s buying season. (The January 2017 show will be the last on the current schedule; what would have been the January 2018 show will move up to December 2017.)

“This decision was made with great care and consideration given to the evolving buy/sell cycle, and an eye on the future growth of the industry,” said Nick Sargent, SIA’s incoming president. “We look forward to the benefits that this shift will provide to the snow sports community, including our retailers, reps, suppliers, and the industry as a whole.”

Following its 2016 Snow Show, SIA will organize individual product category task forces—composed of retailers, reps, rep groups, buying groups, and suppliers—to outline the most efficient and effective format. These discussions and recommendations will guide the future format of the Show.

“This very important decision was made with extensive input from retailers, reps, and suppliers, with the 2017 cycle being selected to offer all organizations involved enough time to adjust to the change,” said SIA Board Chair Bob Gundram.

From two to one. The Adhesive & Sealant Council told members in November that its convention format will change. After a unanimous vote from its board of directors, ASC said it will consolidate its current lineup of two annual conventions—one in the spring and fall—into a single annual convention and expo in the spring beginning in 2017. In addition, a new Executive Leadership Conference will be added in the fall.

“The new annual meeting lineup is 100 percent focused on engagement,” said Matthew E. Croson, president of ASC, in a press release.  “We envision enhanced supply-chain interaction, and our flagship event will become even more important when it is hosted once a year.”

The change is the result of the board asking the industry how best to align ASC’s annual meeting lineup to add value. ASC then created a board-level task force to consider changes, ensuring that member needs were taken into account, while also considering the economic impact to ASC.

“ASC leadership wanted to make sure that industry was supportive of adjusting the lineup but also ensure that we wouldn’t cripple the Council’s ability to deliver value,” said Croson. “We had nearly 70 percent member respondents supporting the idea, and even higher support from suppliers. The Task Force concluded that an adjustment was what members valued and recommended the changes to the Board.”

The next step is for the ASC Executive Committee to put together a new task force—made up of staff and members—to review the convention and expo structure and make a recommendation to the board by October 2016.

Shorter and sweeter. In April 2016 the International Association of Conference Centres will reinvent its annual meeting, which it has also renamed IACC-Americas Connect.

Taking place in New York City, IACC-Americas Connect is the first of a new style of IACC conferences “purpose-designed to drive real and meaningful change in the meetings industry,” according to IACC CEO Mark Cooper.

IACC members said they prefer “shorter, more impactful conferences with good accessibility, affordable registration, and dynamic collaborative learning opportunities.” In response, IACC shortened the 2015 meeting to two days and added a one-day-only option, as well.

In another break from tradition, members can stay at the accommodation of their choice. Meanwhile, the event will be held at multiple locations, including Convene Midtown East, Pier 60, and locations around Chelsea Market.

What I like about these meeting reinventions is that they are all being done to add value to both members and vendors, even if they will require lots of hard work on the part of the association’s staff, board, and other volunteers. By keeping attendees front of mind and getting their input, I’m sure all of these groups will exceed expectations and have great success.

What changes does your association have planned on the meetings front for the next year or so? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the name of IACC, the International Association of Conference Centres.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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