The trade show floor entrance at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C., was one of the busiest portals around at the American Society of Association Executives Management & Technology Conference and Exposition (ASAE M&T), held December 10 to 12, 2000.

The conference drew 2,332 attendees and, with 246 booths, the exposition was the largest yet for the M&T show, according to ASAE President and CEO Michael S. Olson, CAE.

General Session keynote speaker, Andrew Razeghi, founder and managing director of StrategyLab Inc., set the tone for the event by explaining how associations can develop the strategic dialogue they'll need to compete for success in the future.

The tech theme steamrolled throughout the event: Reps from companies offering everything from e-procurement to e-registration to everything you can imagine were tapping out demos on laptops, and the buzz was all about how to make all these fast new tools work for bureaucracy-heavy associations.

But while the power of the Internet is a huge resource, the consensus seemed to be that it's not enough to throw tools and applications at an organization's Web presence.

The key words that cropped up in session after session were personalization, customization, community, and e-commerce, but at the heart of it all was the importance of knowing what an association has to offer that no one else has - be it a measurable commodity such as programs and services, or an intangible like knowing how to work the political system for lobbying or sharing an intense commitment to a common mission - and translating that into a Web presence that is so strong, members will want to use the association's Web page as their personal portal into the Internet. A lofty goal, but one many attendees said they were aiming to reach before this year's M&T conference in Baltimore.

ASAE's Management & Technology exposition was the largest in the group's history, with 246 booths filling the show floor at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., December 10 to 12.