ASAE and the Center’s 2006 Annual Meeting: Welcome to the Chimposeum The big buzz from the ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership at its 2006 Annual Meeting and Exposition, held August 19-22 at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, was the release of The 7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don’t. The project, based on methodology developed by Jim Collins, author of the books Built to Last and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, was the result of “thousands of hours spent by volunteer leaders,” said Susan Sarfati, CAE, president and CEO of The Center for Association Leadership and executive vice president of ASAE and The Center at a press conference during the meeting. “ASAE was the first association to apply Jim Collins’ research methodology to a nonprofit,” she said, adding that the book outlining the results of the research had sold out at the ASAE and the Center bookstore within the first two days of the conference. “He called us chimps, because we are bright and inquisitive, and called our meetings chimposeums, which brought a lot of fun to the process.”

The seven measures of success that resulted from the project are:
1. Customer service culture: Everything should be structured around assessing and fulfilling members’ needs.
2. Alignment of products and services with an organization’s mission. 3. Data-driven strategies.
4. Dialogue and engagement: Have a culture in which all staff equally share the responsibility to contribute and add value to the organization.
5. The CEO must be the broker of ideas: He or she must help foster visionary thinking in all staff members.
6. Organizational adaptability: The association must be able to shift gears and learn from experience, and do it quickly.
7. Alliance building: It’s important to be able to build alliances that relate to existing strategies, and to be willing to walk away when an alliance isn’t producing good results for both partners.

Sarfati also said that the research found that, “the smaller the board, the better,” and that “operating revenues should be 75 percent, not 50 percent as most think.”

Boston a Good Fit
Officials from both ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership and the city of Boston appeared to be pleased with the turnout. Attendance reached approximately 6,000 (final numbers are not yet available), beating last year’s 5,300 total attendance at ASAE and the Center’s conference in Nashville, Tenn. Officials said it was the second-highest executive attendance in the history of the meeting, only a few hundred executives short of the record set at the 1995 annual meeting held in Washington, D.C.

At the press conference, Patrick Moscaritolo, president and CEO, Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city was glad to have ASAE and the Center in town, not just for the more than $14 million in immediate revenue its attendees had brought to Boston, but also for the “spending impact in terms of meetings and trade shows that will come in the future now that they’ve seen our new convention center.” The association calculates its meeting will generate about $1.4 billion in future convention business for the city. Moscaritolo added that the National Business Travel Association, which is bringing its convention to Boston next summer, was in town during the ASAE and the Center’s show, and “they have gotten lots of good ideas they want to adopt.”

Both Jim Rooney, the executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, and John Graham, president and CEO of ASAE and the Center, emphasized that it’s more than just the BCEC that contributed to the success of the conference. “No one’s going to make a decision to come to a city because of a building,” said Rooney. “Boston gets it. We understand that it takes everyone, not just the building.” Graham added, “It takes teamwork and partnership to make this conference come together.” To take advantage of the destination as a whole, ASAE and the Center included numerous events, including the Club Energy after-hours party at Ned Devine’s Pub, an evening with the Blue Man Group, a fisherman’s feast in Boston’s North End, a Boston Irish and heritage brewery tour, a Boston Music Bash at Sculler’s Jazz Club, a dine-around that coincided with Boston’s Restaurant Week celebration, and a final evening concert by the Boston Pops at the Bank of America Pavilion.

The conference was not without its challenges, however. A tunnel problem with the Big Dig project caused some traffic snarls for those traveling to and from the airport, and the foiled terror plot against U.K. planes flying to U.S. cities that included Boston added some last-minute headaches for travelers. Neither of those problems is expected to continue long-term, however. Attendees also complained about the time it took to travel from the hotels to the BCEC, though they liked that the shuttles ran continuously and on time. While the association had 25 contracted hotels to accommodate attendees, Graham said that 90 percent stayed in just five of those hotels, including the new 793-room Westin Boston Waterfront that is attached to the BCEC. The 424-room InterContinental Boston Hotel is scheduled to open in November, and the 471-room Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel also is scheduled to open by next fall to help ease the housing crunch near the BCEC; several other hotels either have opened recently or will be added to the city’s inventory in 2007.

In other ASAE news:

  • Six associations received the 2006 Summit Award for implementing innovative community-based programs, the majority of which were related to efforts undertaken after Hurricane Katrina last year: Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics; American Counseling Association; Civil Air Patrol; Houston Apartment Association; International Bottled Water Association, and the National Restaurant Association.
  • Red Cavaney, CAE, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, received the association’s 2006 Key Award, and Richard Green, CASE, vice president, association sales and industry relations, Marriott International, received the 2006 Academy of Leaders Award at the meeting.
  • Gaylord Hotels has joined the association’s Alliance Partnership Program as a strategic partner, giving it promotional benefits, exposure at ASAE and the Center events, and exclusive sponsorship rights of the education associated with The 7 Measures of Success project the association has undertaken in conjunction with Jim Collins.
  • ASAE and the Center also has formed a strategic alliance with Microsoft Corp. through its Mid Atlantic Small and Midmarket Solutions Partners Group. The goal is to identify and emphasize tech-related best practices for associations and to increase ASAE and the Center’s own overall productivity through use of Microsoft products.