Promote Trade Shows. For an example of all-stops-out promotion on the Web, visit www.super-comm.com, site of Supercomm, a conference and jointly owned and sponsored by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the United States Telephone Association (USTA). The first thing a visitor notices is a legend at the top of the screen that says "Only five days, four hours, and 25 minutes left to register." Refresh the screen and the time changes, minute by minute. Registering at the site enters attendees into a contest to win a personal digital assistant. Also available at the site: An exhibitor prospectus, a list of hotels, information about obtaining discounts on air travel and car rentals, and a page that connects site visitors to the show's half-dozen sponsoring publications.
Another example of an information-packed site that promotes meetings is www.spie.org, site of the International Society for Optical Engineering. Here, visitors can create personalized schedules by searching the site's database for topics of interest at the annual meeting's technical and professional development seminars, and also find exhibitors with products that relate to the topic. There is a list of participating hotels, and a map of San Diego (the meeting site) showing the hotel locations in relation to the convention center. Only one hotel at the site, however, allows online reservations via e-mail. There is also travel information, with a link to Avis for car rentals.
A trade show for database managers, DB/EXPO, has an online hotel room reservation service at www.dbexpo.com that includes a box to check for a room compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and an up-to-date hotel search that shows which hotels are already sold out.
Create a Place for Members to Communicate. At www.cfeca.org, members of the California Film Extruders and Converters Association have an active bulletin board for exchanging information about packaging materials and packaging rules and regulations.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (www.sae.org) has dozens of password-protected discussion groups on technical topics.
Extend the Life of a Conference. The American Heart Association's 69th Scientific Sessions took place in March, but the exposition that accompanied it is still going strong at www.expocity.com/aha. Visitors to the site can create a virtual business card, called a vCard, then visit exhibitor pages where they can make inquiries about products and drop off a vCard with the exhibitor.
Less elaborate, but also effective, is www.cedia.org, site of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. Here, visitors can, via an online order form, obtain audiotapes of presentations from the previous year's conference.
Promote to General Audiences. The American Egg Board offers the Eggcyclopedia at www.aeb.org. At www.cedia.org, (see above) visitors can search for contractors who install home theaters. The National Christmas Tree Growers Association has a directory of growers and retailers (www.christree.org).
A great place to go for ideas about association Web sites is www.eventweb.com, where Doug Fox, a long-time consultant on meeting technology matters, maintains an archive of association sites he has reviewed. You'll find links to the American Heart Association and Supercomm sites there, as well as to a few dozen others.