Everything is BIG in Dallas – Including ASAE’s Annual Meeting

August 15, 2012

This week, the American Society of Association Executives wrapped up their annual convention in Dallas on a high note, showing a 12-percent increase in their numbers and the most-attended event since it was held in Chicago six years earlier.


This year’s annual meeting was the highest seen since 2007. The final attendance breakdown includes 2,780 executives, 1,861 exhibitors and 1,369 others, including guests, spouses, press, volunteers, vendors and staff, for a grand total of 6,010.


The 2011 event in St. Louis drew 5,368 attendees.


It was noted at the press conference on Aug. 14 that Dallas had made a lot of promises to lure the ASAE event to the city.


ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV said that Dallas had “exceeded those promises.” ASAE’s partnership with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau showcased the city in a very positive light.    


Phillip Jones, president and CEO of the Dallas CVB, shared that when they were selling ASAE on holding their convention in the city, they were selling a dream and “ASAE bought the vision.” 


The CVB promised ASAE executives an attached convention center hotel to the Dallas Convention Center, and “we made it by six months,” Jones said.


Having an attached hotel to the convention center has been a game changer for Dallas. 


Prior to the hotel being approved, the Dallas CVB was booking one city wide convention per month. Since the voter approval of the hotel, they have tripled bookings with 55 conventions. 


The track record for ASAE’s attendees is 20 percent will book a meeting in the next 4-5 years, according to ASAE executives.


This translates into “half a billion dollars of revenue will be brought to the city of Dallas between 2012 and 2020,” Graham said. 


He continued by stating the fact that the convention is expected to bring in “16 million dollars of revenue just this week.”


Creating Flexible Delivery of Content – Associations Now


As part of ASAE’s content management strategy, they will be some changes with the publication, Associations Now. Starting Oct. 1, it will have a new look making it “more people friendly, more people focused” explained Graham. He wants the magazine to be more business oriented like Fast Company, so that it will be a “must read” publication. 


ASAE will create a microsite for Associations Now. They are planning on delivering their content via print, a tablet version and a mobile version. In addition, they will be having a daily e-newsletter which will cover: leadership and governance, money and business, technology, meetings and membership.   For the e-newsletter they are going to aggregate content from their own material, their members and third parties.


ASAE Gives – Big!


Graham shared his philosophy that when ASAE comes into a city they want people to know “we were here.  We want to leave a footprint that shows we are leaving it a better place than when we got here.” 


He added that last year in St. Louis ASAE provided about $25,000 for an animal shelter. However, when he was on the media tour a few weeks before this year’s show, they visited the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB). 


Upon seeing what this charity provides, Graham decided that ASAE could do better than before, and increased the donation amount to $50,000 for the “Food 4 Kids” backpack program.


This effort provides participating schools with nutritious, kid-friendly, self-serve food designed to fill a backpack and feed a child over the weekend during the school year.


The goal was exceeded, though, and ASAE left a check for $61,442.Several entities contributed to this total amount including: $15,000 from the Dallas CVB (in lieu of a room amenity), $15,000 from ASAE Foundation, all the tours and online activities came up with another $15,000, attendees placed money in containers in the general sessions and then Graham said, “two angels visited us.” 


Tony Lorenz with BXB and GIECO Insurance were those angels at $5,000 each.


“ASAE and their membership’s generous gift ensures that North Texas children will start school with hope and enthusiasm,” said Jan Pruitt, CEO of NTFB.


She added, “We all know that hunger impedes a child’s success in the classroom. Their gift will provide 12,288 weekend backpacks of nutritious food to children who often worry about going hungry over the weekend. There is no greater gift than offering hope, health and a future to a young child. ASAE and its membership just did that.”


ASAE Puts Green on the Forefront


ASAE’s next sustainable initiative involves trees. As was reported on TSNN.com in a July 31 article, ASAE joins with American Forests to Plant One Tree Per Annual Meeting Attendee.


This is a major commitment by ASAE through a partnership with American Forests to plant one tree per attendee to ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Exposition. For the Dallas area, more than 6,000 trees will be planted. 


“In the past five years, ASAE has made major strides in our efforts to make conferences and events more environmentally friendly and socially beneficial,” Graham said.


He added, “Our collaboration with American Forests provides us with a great opportunity to help the local climate by planting trees and reducing our carbon footprint. I urge other associations to consider ways they can reduce their carbon emissions when possible.”


ASAE plans to continue this program for every major meeting they host.


Next's annual meeting will be held in Atlanta Aug. 3-6.


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