We Asked, You Answered: Practical and Tactical Event Strategies

Not every “wow”-worthy gesture at an event has to be bold—sometimes, it just has to be supremely useful. Here are a few smart ways associations impressed their attendees and exhibitors.

Sometimes, the biggest “wow” you can generate for your attendees isn’t a spectacle. Maybe it’s just a sign that you’re listening and willing to go above and beyond to make them feel happy and included.

Recently we asked our readers about event features that had a “wow” factor. While many responses were driven by splash and flash, others were notable for simply being smart, effective, and engaging.

With that in mind, check out how these association pros found success at their recent events.

Amaia Stecker

Resource Development Manager, National PTA

We piloted a “hosted buyer” (reverse tradeshow) for our volunteer members and exhibitors. This pilot proved to be successful in offering these volunteers an opportunity to attend our annual meeting that they might have not otherwise been able and to network in brief one-one meetings with our exhibitors looking to reach our local PTA volunteers. As we expand this program next year, we see great opportunities to grow our expo hall, increase attendance, and provide valuable professional development.

Anthony Demangone

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions 

We have a welcome desk at every hotel, with registration materials. That way, folks can register and just head to their room without having to go to a conference center or wait until the next morning. Also, we’re able to answer a lot of questions that attendees have about the upcoming week. It’s been a huge success.

Kirk Ross

Membership Director, American Sportfishing Association

ASA staff stop by each exhibitor’s booth and shake the hand of everyone there and thank them for exhibiting and being a member. We also do onboarding on our policy issues and membership benefits with new exhibitors, while leaving an onboarding package with them.

Anne Llewellyn

Past President, Case Management Society of America

Everyone who registers for our annual conference gets a free membership to the organization. This has increased membership and makes the annual conference a “true” membership event. Attendees love it, as it gives them something tangible when they pay the registration fee. It has also helped our local chapters to increase their membership rosters.

Garrett Droege

Executive Director, TechAssure Association

We always incorporate the city where we are hosting the event as much as possible. If we’re in Austin, Texas, there will be great Tex-Mex food and a killer band. If we’re in Denver, Colorado, there will be microbreweries and a concert at Red Rocks. This fall, we’ll be in Nashville, Tennessee. We’re hosting a reception at a local honky-tonk (can you tell we like music?), followed by dinner at a hot chicken restaurant. Our members love that they can expect a quality conference and networking, while getting to know a new city and all that makes it unique.

(Ukususha/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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