I have to admit that I’m very proud to be able to say that consistently the participants at AAMA national conferences comment on how superbly organized and efficiently operated our events are. Our attendance has remained strong, even through the more difficult economic years, and our long-standing success over decades of hosted events is certainly a core part of our association's legacy.

But, all things must evolve to continue to meet the demands of an ever-changing marketplace and customer expectations. And so, an objective to re-structure our national conferences emerged from the Board of Directors’ Strategic Planning Meeting earlier this year.

This objective, along with two others, was introduced to members during the Opening General Session at the 2016 Annual Conference and offered the following as preliminary goals:
  • Identify redundancies, current value and activities not suited for a conference forum
  • Improve the current reporting process
  • Shift the meeting schedule to avoid weekends
  • Target high quality speakers
  • Mentor and prepare new participants
This project affords us an opportunity to carefully assess the most beneficial aspects of our events and identify what’s missing so that participants are able to get the most possible value out of their financial and time investment to attend. In recent months, our staff has interviewed a number of members who regularly attend AAMA national conferences as well as quite a few members who haven’t attended a conference in several years, if ever. We learned a lot from these conversations and plan to develop proposed changes to the conference structure to address many of them.

Here is just a sampling of the intelligence we acquired:
  • Excellent forum for interacting with peers, suppliers and customers – networking, learning, building professional relationships
  • Need an effective balance of committee work and industry issue/educational sessions
  • Ensure strong planning and preparation for content of meeting sessions to keep it targeted and meaningful
  • Minimize procedural and administrative minutia to keep the focus on substantive content
  • Codes, regulatory and other major industry issues are important to discuss
  • Manage registration fees in combination with travel costs for an overall affordable experience
  • Schedule meetings so travel and sessions occur during the week
  • Busy work schedules make travel to in-person conference events extremely difficult
  • Provide equipment needed to streamline and expedite the mechanics of meeting sessions
  • Schedule compelling and engaging speakers who are skilled presenters
If you said “uh huh” to any, many or all of these items, then you’ll want to stay closely tuned in. More details about what’s planned for achieving this objective will be presented during the Opening General Session at the upcoming Summer Conference next month, including a planned implementation timeline.

We’ll also be seeking additional member input so don’t miss your chance to weigh in and help make these events an even more valuable investment for you and your company.