This year's ASAE and The Center annual conference seems to have just zipped by. Here are a few fly-by observations.
The up side:
â€¢ I loved the general session speakers on the first and last day. While Bob Woodruff and Chris Gardner didn't have anything to say that related to associations, I feel like a better person for having heard their stories.
â€¢ There were a lot of thought-provoking speakers, both in the learning labs and in the thought leader sessions. I will have to take some time to unpack my brain and put their messages away where they'll do the most good, but there was some serious learning going on.
â€¢ The booths at the expo! These guys really go all out, don't they? I wish I took a picture of the Texas booth, just to show one example. I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked on the show floor, but most of the suppliers I spoke with there said they were getting great results, too. The golf thing was pretty cool too, even to this non-golfer.
â€¢ I got an e-mail asking me to evaluate the sessions on Saturday and Sunday on Sunday night, and another today with a link to an online evaluation of the next two days. I like that they didn't wait a week or two to send them out, when the events aren't so fresh in my mind. The only thing better would have been to make some time at the end of each session and do an audience-response system eval in real time. Now that would be interesting. And, of course, let each speaker make up their own questions so the eval would actually relate to that session, but that might be asking a bit much...
â€¢ The "Free Buffet" song. OMG did I laugh at that one. If you couldn't go to ASAE this year, I'm sorry, but you just had to be there.
â€¢ Chicago. It's just such a great city. I've been to many conventions in Chicago, but never saw anything outside the hotel, convention center, and a restaurant or two. I actually had a day to explore this year, and I took full advantage of it.
The down side:
â€¢ I definitely won't miss walking up the stairs to go across and walk down the stairs then go up the escalator then over the bridge... that seems to be part and parcel of a McCormick Place meeting. I didn't bring my pedometer, but I bet I walked many miles over the past few days.
â€¢ I have been skiing in sub-zero weather and been warmer than I was the whole time I was in the convention center. I know it's hard to regulate, but my fingers actually went numb at the end of the last session on Monday. Note for next year: Bring a winter-weight suit, or at least a heavy sweater!
â€¢ The buses. I know everyone complained about the shuttles taking forever in Boston last year, when the city was so torn-up because of the tunnel incident, but Chicago didn't seem to do much better. It was not uncommon, in my experience anyway, for it to take an hour to get from the hotel to the convention center.
â€¢ What's with the lack of sweets and caffeine? There was water galore for the breaks, but if you needed a caffeine fix, you either had to truck down to Starbucks (or further down to Mickey D's if Starbucks wasn't open), or crash one of the lounges for CAEs or CEOs if you, like me, don't have those acronyms. Of all the things I heard people say about the opening reception, the lack of dessert seemed to be most egregious (though the go-go girls came in a close second for many of the women I talked with).
â€¢ The lack of content for meeting planners, even in the M&E day programs. I didn't go to a session that was specifically about meetings until the very last learning lab yesterday, which was an excellent rundown of what to include (and what to leave out) of an RFP. It was great to learn about working in teams and Gen Y, but why not make those sessions specific to meetings (both were listed as M&E) by showing how teams work while the meeting planning is being done, or talk about how you can attract Gen Y to your meeting through programming, marketing, whatever? It wouldn't have been hard to do, but for some reason, it didn't happen.
I had some great intentions about writing up yesterday's sessions tonight (and finally get around to mentioning some things from Sunday), now that I'm finally home, but I'm cooked. I'm going to eat some tomatoes out of our garden, hang with my honey and my dog, and listen to the whine of the late-summer bugs. Tomorrow, I promise...