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Making their meetings sparkle.

THE WINNERS OF ASAE'S DIAMOND AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE BRING INNOVATION, ENERGY, AND EXPERTISE TO MEETINGS AND EXPOSITION MANAGEMENT. Meetings and expositions not only bring people together, they encourage the exchange of ideas and the growth of commerce. Winners of the 1992 Diamond Awards of Excellence, presented by ASAE's Meetings and Expositions Section, continually demonstrate exceptional creativity and competence in arranging an environment where members can feel like a vital part of their organization.

Last year the International Communications Industries Association turned a declining exposition into a thriving marketplace. The National Campground Owners Association, meeting in the middle of a recession, found new ways to do more with less. By changing the year of its biennial meeting, the International Sleep Products Association catapulted its members into the international bedding market. Finally, the National Speakers Association found a format that meets its members' needs and encourages a new generation of speakers.

ASAE also recognizes the dedication convention service managers bring to the meetings industry. This year the Convention Service Manager Diamond Award goes to a manager whose energetic approach leaves her customers impressed and satisfied: Karen Zimmerman, of the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill. To learn more, read on.

BEST EXPOSITION MANAGEMENT AND INNOVATION OF THE YEAR

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA (budget of $1,000,000-$4,999,999)

"We had a trade show that had declining attendance, a declining number of exhibitors, and declining income," explains Kenton H. Pattie, executive vice president of the International Communications Industries Association. Technology trade show competition had passed ICIA's Infocomm show by, leaving it struggling to keep up with the market.

"The goal was to turn it around," Pattie says. "We shifted a quarter of a million dollars from operations to sales and promotion." ICIA also built up direct mail marketing.

Pattie's association created special events to exhibit products in a comparative way. "Our attendees loved being able to go to a show and see systems networked together." Displays included two trademarked formats: "Projection Shootout," which compared large-screen video projectors, and "War of the Walls," a similar display for computerized videowalls.

ICIA's "Innovation of the Year" was an "educator passport" booklet called Infocomm is for Educators. "Instead of making educators see our regular brochure and have them try to figure what was in it for them, we spelled out what was in this show for an educator," Pattie says. The direct mail booklet itemized educator-oriented events at Infocomm and offered a customized program. Additional specialized brochures were aimed at video producers, teleconference operators, and other technical specialists.

Attendance at Infocomm has risen 70 percent since the innovations began in 1989. Pattie now looks to make Infocomm a magnet for technical associations' annual meetings.

INTERNATIONAL SLEEP PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (budget of $250,000-$999,999)

For the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), changing its exposition's date made a world of difference--literally. "In Europe, in May of odd years, there's the largest fair in the world for the furniture production industry," explains Susan E. Perry, vice president for meetings and expositions. "Our show used to be in March in odd years, and then in May there would be this big meeting in Europe." As a result, bedding manufacturers had a conflict between their own show and the European trade fair.

ISPA decided to change its show's date to the even years and encourage more international participation. "The 1992 meeting was the first ISPA-sponsored show in an even year," Perry says. "This was the first time in three years the industry had come together--and at a time when there was no conflict. We could have everybody, and we did--our international attendance went up 34 percent."

Pent-up demand made the Nashville show tremendously successful, Perry says. "We sold the floor out. We had to put the association booth in the hallway." Activities were designed to appeal to foreign participants: A world bedding conference and international marketing forum was held the day before the show started. "We had to drag the people out of the room," Perry says. A tour of bedding manufacturing plants and retail facilities attracted more than three busloads of attendees from outside the United States.

To help its members enter the global market, ISPA sponsors a pavilion at the European show during its off years. "In 1991 we had 16 U.S. participants, and last year we had 25 companies and four times the space," Perry says.

BEST CONVENTION SERVICE MANAGER

KAREN ZIMMERMAN HYATT REGENCY CAPITOL HILL, WASHINGTON, D.C.

"I'm basically a people person," says Karen Zimmerman, this year's recipient of the Convention Service Manager Diamond Award. "But in the office portion of my job, my methods aren't by any means to be copied. Some people keep call reports. I keep notes on pieces of paper."

Zimmerman must be doing something right, however. Her award recognizes that she's someone special in the convention management field. Perhaps it's because of her can-do attitude: "We do what we have to do," she says of her profession. "People are amazed when they see the title of 'director' and they see us turning rooms and skirting tables, but that's part of the job. We do whatever it takes."

Zimmerman started on a career in food and beverage, but "someone directed me into convention services." She discovered she liked it: "It was my niche--it was exactly what I needed to do to make me happy in a profession." Best of all, Zimmerman says, is the satisfaction that comes with doing a good job. "I love the start to finish of a project. It's a short-term goal that enables you to meet success once, twice a week. It's that sense of accomplishment that I feel."

BEST CONVENTION MANAGEMENT

NATIONAL CAMPGROUND OWNERS ASSOCIATION RESTON, VIRGINIA (budget up to $250,000)

In planning its 25th-anniversary convention, the National Campground Owners Association faced an unfavorable economic climate and a constrained budget. "It was a time when the recession was hitting the country, the association, and its members--and its exhibitors," explains Dawn M. Mancuso, CAE, NCOA's executive director. "From early projections it looked like we would lose attendance and exhibitors."

Mancuso and her staff examined their budget and began to devise innovative ways of staging a gala celebration--on a shoestring. "From the hard work of our staff team and planning committee we were able to find special sponsors for the anniversary party, one of the night social events. And we found less expensive ways to do things." Mancuso's staff tapped NCOA members in San Diego, the convention city, to help them locate lower-cost suppliers for extras such as tuxedos and entertainment. The late-December date meant that local speakers were free and willing to work for a lower rate. For the general sessions, Mancuso says, "Many times we automatically assume that name speakers are going to make the attendee happy." Instead of famous names, Mancuso asked respected people in the industry to speak about future trends. "It was what people wanted to talk about at the time, and we saved a lot of money on speaker fees and still presented a thought-provoking general session," she says.

"We were able to put on over 30 seminars, three general sessions, and a wide variety of social events, as well as a trade show, for less money than we'd spent before."

NATIONAL SPEAKERS ASSOCIATION TEMPE, ARIZONA (budget of $250,000-$999,999)

"Speakers are a pretty demanding group because of who they are," says Barbara Nivala, CAE, executive vice president of the National Speakers Association (NSA). "They attend a lot of conventions, being speakers." As a result, Nivala says, it's the little things--the attention to detail and schedule--that make her association's convention an ongoing success. Members have broken attendance records in each of three years.

Who speaks at a speakers' conference? What does Nivala's organization look for in a speaker? "Just their platform skills, their dynamic; we want someone who is a good presenter," she explains.

NSA structures its convention to appeal to families, and many members bring children. At the convention, kids get a good introduction to the world of professional speaking. "Our youth program is extremely popular and very different from a standard youth program," Nivala says. "We tap into our resource of presenters and they also present to the youth, so the youth have a convention within our convention. They have keynote speakers and breakouts, and we have another general session for 125 children. Buses take |the children~ to the off-property activities, such as a theme park. They do fun things, but they also learn a lot. Our youth program is very different."

Stephanie Faul is a senior editor of ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT. For more information about the Diamond Awards of Excellence, call the ASAE Meetings and Expositions Section, (202) 626-2789.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Faul, Stephanie
Publication:Association Management
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Words:1456
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