Why does one technology conference make it and another fail? One answer is the degree to which the event can morph with the times. One conference that has managed to survive the upheavals of the marketplace is digitalNow, an event focused on strategic technology-related issues for association executives.
The conference, produced by Webster, N.Y.-based Fusion Productions and sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives and the Disney Institute, was launched in response to the rapid rise of online companies that threatened to infringe on the domain of many associations. The first two digitalNow conferences focused on how associations could learn from these dot-com companies. Well, the dot-com era has come and gone, and digitalNow's programming has shifted to remain relevant.
The third conference, which drew 150 registrants in February to Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort in Orlando, had a laser-like focus on topics such as understanding Web metrics and building customer loyalty through, among other things, a great Web presence. These topics aren't as sexy as warding off the dot-com threat, but they do speak to the heart of the tech issues facing organizations today.
Another reason digitalNow has continued to succeed is its excellent use of technology to create various feedback loops. One example: A bank of computers at the event allowed attendees to instantly provide feedback after each session so that producers could alter the program, if needed. After the conference, the digitalNow Web page allows the “conversation” to continue.
“It makes a conference a kind of living thing,” says Fusion Production's Hugh Lee. “It's the way conferences need to move to remain relevant to the needs of attendees.”