Over 300 association executives from Europe, North America, South America, and Asia took part in a power-packed day of professional development and networking at yesterday’s 10th IMEX Association Day at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center. Feedback on the day’s restructured education program showed that delegates appreciated the fresh approach plus the opportunity to step back from day-to-day business to discuss future strategies and current challenges with their peers and senior industry leaders.
Having been a key element in the IMEX Vision program of thought-leadership and change initiatives since the first show, the IMEX Group took the opportunity to completely review the format, content, and delivery of the day’s education, which is dedicated solely to the professional development needs of association executives.
The 300-plus participants, most of whom attended as part of the IME hosted buyer program, heard contributions from 24 speakers, including CEOs and Executive Directors from some of Europe and America’s largest associations. They also had the chance to take part in double the number of education sessions offered in previous years. Brand new learning formats, such as “Deep Dives,” allowed delegates to explore a number of single-issue topics over a 3-hour period, and a new “Ask the Expert” clinic provided complimentary, one-to-one consultancy on VAT issues – a subject chosen by consultation with delegates prior to the day.
NEW TRACKS INTRODUCED
The introduction of meetings, operations, and executive education tracks also allowed content to be planned and refined based on delegate roles and responsibilities, giving yet more choice and added value; another development that was well received.
Harry Schmidt of the Religious Conference Management Association commented: “This is the strongest Association Day I’ve ever been to. The program has clearly been planned with a lot of foresight, and it was blocked and segmented such that I could really get the most out of it. I’m now leaving with some excellent takeaways and 11 pages of notes! I have to say I really appreciated the progressive nature of the education and the fact it was so pragmatic.”
The 2012 IMEX Association Day program kicked off with a networking lunch followed by a choice of 2 seminars in each of the 3 new tracks. These included a “Deep Dive” led by ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership on “Managing Through Change,” which was moderated by Brian Riggs, Vice President of Association Headquarters, Inc. Also taking part were Robin Lokerman, CEO Institutional Division, MCI Group; Peter O’Neil, CAE, Executive Director, American Industrial Hygiene Association; Robert Waller, CAE, President, Association Headquarters, Inc.; and Patrizia Lucca of AIM International. The session covered issues such as changing trends in technology, the meaning of community in the 21st century, and a variety of leadership imperatives.
Within the new meetings track, PCMA designed and delivered a session that explored the pros and cons of hybrid meetings. This “Practical Look at Harnessing the Power of Technology to Drive Event Success” featured “virtual” speakers, Deborah Sexton, FASAE, President & CEO, PCMA, and Michael Doyle, Executive Director of the Virtual Edge Institute, both of whom beamed in live from Chicago. The session was moderated by Sherrif Karamat, CAE, Chief Operating Officer, PCMA.
Rachel Moore of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy, another attendee, stated: “I found the hybrid meetings session particularly interesting, and it was good to hear from other associations that virtual meetings and events do not cannibalize face-to-face events but work as a good pipeline for securing future attendees to them. Everyone here is very approachable and friendly so it’s been a very enjoyable and productive first-time for me.”
In the operations track, Benita Lipps, Head of Conferences Unit for the European Science Foundation and Helga Severyns, Senior Director of the UITP, led a session on “Collaborative Curation.” This workshop looked at the challenges now facing associations as they try to find the time and skills to monitor, evaluate, and combine the wealth of information available to them**.
HOW TO PENETRATE CHINESE MARKET
In response to delegate demand for guidance on how to penetrate emerging markets, and particularly China, Jennifer Salsbury, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at the China National Convention Center, and Kristin K. Mirabal, CMP, Director Global Programs for The Optical Society, shared their professional experience and knowledge. “Entering New Markets – The Keys to Success in China” acknowledged that China is unlike any other destination and presents unique cultural and governmental challenges. The session covered many of the practical issues involved, as well as more subtle considerations such as cultural difference, language, and managing expectations.
Other education sessions during the day included: “Sustainability as a Driver for Successful Associations;” “Association Communities: Members, Customers or What? Evolving Membership Models;” “Generating New Revenues: What’s Working and Why;” and “Online Learning.” ICCA also contributed, as the association does every year, with “Designing Better Congress Decision-making Processes.”
Corazon Conde of ADFIAP Consulting (the service unit of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific) summed up her experience of the day: “The day certainly met with my expectations. I’m a first-time attendee, and I enjoyed hearing about new tools such as webcasting and tactics, such as the use of new venues to help attract delegates. It was useful, too, to hear about the strategies that other associations are using in their development.”
Said Carina Bauer: “We know the pressures association executives are under and appreciate that time spent away from daily operations has to provide a solid, measurable return in terms of education and networking. We are delighted that our new program has met with such a positive response and was appreciated by all those who took part. It gives us the motivation and direction to keep enhancing the program, extending its reach and doing whatever we can to support association executives in their professional challenges.”
As usual, this day of intense professional education ended in an evening networking reception, at the Westin Hotel in Frankfurt. IMEX exhibitors (who are members of one of the organizing associations – ICCA, AIPC, IAPCO, PCMA, ESAE, ASAE, IAEE, DMAI – joined with speakers and Association Day participants, swelling numbers to over 900 for what has become the unofficial opening event of the show.