2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition Breaks Attendance Records in Chicago

August 23, 2018

A grand total of 6,092 association professionals and industry partners converged Aug. 18-21 in Chicago for the 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition, the highest attendance the annual industry event has attracted. 

“This is our largest meeting ever!,” ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV told a packed room of journalists earlier this week.

He added, “Probably the only place we could have a larger meeting was to have it in D.C, but that hasn’t happened in 25 years.”

The 2007 event also was in Chicago when it scored its second highest attendance.

Graham said the economic impact to the city of Chicago was estimated to be $20 million, a amount that helped offset the $3.8 million spent by the city to host ASAE.

He added that 20 percent of the ASAE attendees would return and book their event in the host city as well.

In all, there were 3,534 association executives, 2,017 suppliers an17 guests, as well as 723 booths in McCormick Place’s West Building.

ASAE participants had the chance to hear speeches from keynotes Kickstarter Co-founder Yancey Strickler and World Champion triathlete Siri Lindley, take part in more than 110 education sessions, experience five game changers and explore a packed expo hall filled with destinations, venues and event tech company suppliers, to name a few.

The event also reported a strong ratio of 63 percent buyers (association staff) to 37 percent sellers (industry partners).

“Throughout the conference, our attendees heard from two fantastic keynotes, five Game Changers, engaged in 115 learning labs, and networked with industry partners in the expo hall,” Graham said. “Participants found new ideas, strategies and solutions they could take back to their organization.”

Strickler kicked off the conference as the opening keynote, providing insights on how he started Kickstarter and ensured it was designed to reflect trust, value and culture of the organization.

Stressing how financial maximization isn’t permanent, he emphasized how critical it is for organizations to focus and articulate other values including community, knowledge, human capital and security.

ASAE presented five game changers, including Gabby Rivera, author of “Juliet Takes a Breath” and Marvel Comic Series America; Rich Karlgaard, Forbes publisher and columnist and author of “The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success”; Seth Mattison, Luminate Labs co-founder and chief movement officer and co-author of “The War at Work”; Tina Tchen, partner at Buckley Sandler and former assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, and Manjit Minhas, co-founder of Minhas Brewery & Distillery Dragon, CBC Dragons’ Den.

In addition, ASAE raised $71,000 for The Greater Chicago Food Depository and Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly. The total weight of the food donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository Food Drive amounted to 6,687 lbs., translating to 8,693 meals for those in need.

To wrap up the event, closing keynote Lindley told the inspirational story of her journey to become a triathlete champion. She stressed the importance of being willing to fail, letting go of fear and finding the gift in the struggle that comes with reaching our goals because it allows us to learn valuable lessons about ourselves in the process. 

The 2019 ASAE Annual Meeting is set for Aug. 10-13 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

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