ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Expo wrapped up Tuesday at the Dallas Convention Center, drawing 5,402 delegates as of Monday, with a buyer-to-seller ratio of approximately 60 percent to 40 percent.
Major scandals have rocked the U.S. General Services Administration, or GSA, since the previous meeting, which sparked ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV (pictured) to comment on the continued need to advocate for the necessity of face-to-face meetings.
“At the end of the day, one of the things we need to do as an industry is [emphasize] that face-to-face has value, and is not a boondoggle,” he said in a press conference, calling the GSA scandal “a cloud that is hanging over government meetings,” and also using as an example government officials’ attacks on major meetings destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando as examples. “We learned in 2008 that was not the case, and with recent actions by the government, it’s still the case.
“I think the meetings industry will continue to thrive, but the value proposition has to be there for people to travel,” he continued.
ASAE debuted six new learning platforms at this year’s meeting, including a mobile playground, with six different sessions addressing mobile issues such as apps; a Wisdom While You Walk morning “session” in which participants discussed issues while on a walk around the convention center; a Green Safari that found participants touring the new Omni Dallas Hotel to discover its sustainability features; a Story Slam Coaching Jam, in which association executives gave five-minute presentations on leadership; Project Runway, a competition that had celebrity guests “modeling” leadership styles; and Global Perspectives sessions that focused on Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, including information from ASAE’s recent study mission to Brussels and Berlin.
ASAE also announced a diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiative, which resulted in a first of its kind mission statement on the topic from ASAE. The mission statement addresses vision, terminology, business reasons why associations should pursue a diversity and inclusion effort, and ROI.
ASAE is also producing a D&I indexing tool associations can use to measure their diversity and inclusion efforts compared to other associations.
“We are excited about this initiative,” Graham said. “With our changing demographic landscape, with multiple generations in the work force, and with the recognition of the real value of inclusion in decision-making D&I is something that is important with any organization and is particularly important to associations.”
Graham also announced that the association’s publication, Associations Now, is undergoing a redesign that will be launched Oct. 1, and it is also gearing up to publish a daily e-newsletter on a rotating schedule of topics. The association will use its own content as well as aggregate content from other sources.
The total number of delegates attending the convention represented a 7 percent increase of the association’s meeting in St. Louis last year, and is expected to bring in approximately $16 million in revenue to the city, with up to 20 percent of association planners expected to book an event in Dallas over the next few years. Graham said Dallas could see revenue in the area of half a billion dollars by 2020 due to the convention.
The trade show portion of the meeting resulted in 716 booths, representing 408 companies.
“This is tracking right where we want it to,” Graham said, adding that the association will exceed registration and exhibit budgets this year.