Attendance was not off as much as officials had feared at the annual meeting of the American Society of Association Executives, which was held last week in Honolulu, August 22-26.

"Given the economy, we were worried that attendance would be half of the normal 6,000 or so," said outgoing ASAE chairmen Red Cavaney, CAE, at a press conference during the meeting. "Our latest figures show that we have 4,090 registrants, which exceeds our expectations. We’re thrilled."

He also pointed out that the number of exhibit booths--420--at this year’s show was just slightly less than last year’s, albeit booth space for many had been downsized. A new format that had been requested last year by exhibitors for this year’s show, however, bombed big time. The show floor on the second day of the meeting was open for by-appointment only visitors. The hall was practically empty, so it was quickly opened for everyone that same morning. Exhibitors were steamed and let ASAE know it afterward at a new town-hall-style meeting for exhibitors.

"What is clear to us is that we need to do some market research to find out what the best solution for next year is," said Cavaney.

John Graham, ASAE’s new CEO, who also spoke at the press conference, said he thought that ASAE had been slow to respond to the tough economic climate, but it had created a "powerful platform for growth" following downsizing and repositioning of the association’s budget over the last year.

The meeting kicked off with a rousing general session by best-selling author James Bradley (Flags of our Fathers) and ended with a Cool and the Gang concert that had the audience dancing under the stars. In between, island bus drivers went on strike, but aside from the extra traffic congestion, the strike had little effect on the meeting.

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