The Expo Group team recently returned from two exciting days at the first ASAE XDP, the re-imagining of what used to be ASAE’s springtime event – and what a reinvention! Kudos to the entire ASAE team for being able to re-energize this event with an entirely new experience.
We had the opportunity to directly engage with over 100 association executives during the event. And based on that interaction, here are 5 areas of focus that were most common:
1. They are all under pressure, challenged for attendance, exhibitors, sponsors. Everyone we spoke with was under pressure to grow their event revenue or slow/reverse sinking revenues.
2. They are all struggling with how to get more senior people in their industries to attend (which would then help with exhibitors). A significant part of the health of a show, both in terms of revenue and member engagement, is the need to attract more senior-level attendees. This appears to have become increasingly difficult for many show managers and started to negatively impact attendee, exhibitor and sponsor revenue.
3. They are still trying to figure out how to better use social media to market their shows before, during and after the event. How to better use social media before, during and after the event – from strategy to communications to technology, continues to be a challenge for organizations trying to effectively and efficiently leverage the power of social platforms to drive engagement, attendance and growth
4. They are thinking audiences, not just attendees. Show managers are now coming around to thinking about experience design as something that needs to take all its show participants – attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and employees into account.
5. Multi-generational show design was a large topic of conversation. How do you design an experience for what could be as many as five different generations of attendees – how do you design for their common needs AND their unique differences
A more strategic and holistic approach to experience design can help alleviate these concerns by providing:
• A driven growth-focused strategy – not the too often ‘cut and paste’ approach to curriculum, marketing, session and expo development – but a thoughtful approach to designing a show that will purposefully drive revenue
• A show curriculum that includes content worthy of senior level attendance – we call it providing “leaps of learning for experienced execs”.
• A ‘builds-in’ social media strategy directly connecting into the experience design, and helping to achieve the vital goal of better connecting your community to your show.
• A focus on designing for every show participant– attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and employees.
• An intentional multi-generational design that requires an understanding of both the shared values of the community, the shared values amongst the generations and the unique experiential needs of each.
The challenges for show managers are considerable. But so are the opportunities.
What is required is a disciplined, proven approach to experience design focused on growth across audiences of all generations, experience levels and roles.