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Meet your partners.

You're going to walk into your first educational session at the Management & Meetings Forum '92 in March and think, "This is different." Who are these folks you usually just see in the show? They're your partners.

The point of partnership as the motif of the new spring meeting format is "to bring together not just supply and demand but need and ability," says Management & Meetings Forum Advisory Committee Chair Raymond J. Hall, CEO of the Electronics Representatives Association, Chicago. "The buyer needs the product as much as the supplier needs to sell. When that relationship is adversarial, it's not of value."

That relationship is the bedrock of the association meetings business. For association CEOs and staff, conventions and seminars mean 30 percent of their organizations' revenue. Meetings are also one of the principal ways we get work done with staff, committee, and board members.

Partnership isn't just another decorating theme. "This meeting is different not only because the associate members asked for it," says committee member Liz Jackson, vice president of sales at Associated Luxury Hotels, Washington, D.C. "The leadership of ASAE has embraced greater participation of associate members."

The forum has no programming earmarked for suppliers: Educational sessions are conceived as seamless programs in which supplier, association CEO, and meeting planner bring their singular views to the same discussion. "It's never been emphasized that suppliers should participate in educational sessions," Jackson remarks. "Some programs were designated as supplier topics, but those were sessions we could get in other venues. Now I have to stress to associate members that you aren't going to get your money's worth at the forum if you don't attend the educational sessions," Jackson says.

Partnership, then, is the theme and objective of the Management & Meetings Forum. And in what context do our partnerships arise? "Meetings," says Michael J. Dimond, another advisory committee member and senior vice president of marketing at the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado. "We're having a meeting about meetings because the synergy between suppliers and association execs revolves around meetings and conventions.

"Most programs used to be on the association's inner workings," Dimond remarks. "Everything except meetings, and there was a breakout for suppliers. I feel very positive about this change. There's a real serendipity that results from a network of suppliers, CEOs,and meeting planners."

Is that a three-way partnership? At least. "It's critical to the associate member to work with both CEO and meeting planner," says Liz Jackson. "Selling to associations is unique because the decision-making process is hierarchical."

Forum sessions - and the trade show - emphasize that internal partnership as well. "We have a lot of CEOs with their heads in the clouds as far as the meeting function goes," believes Hall. "CEOs don't understand the art of meeting organization - what's important about needs assessment, program design, and meeting execution.

"The bottom line is the member attendee," Hall continues. "If the meeting is not a good product, you lose. As our members have less time and money, their decisions to participate in association functions are much more critical," Hall concludes. "CEOs have to ask, how do we partner those who service our conferences?"

Practice and principle

The Management & Meetings Forum introduces two new formats for sharing - and borrowing - methods that work.

Showcases. Four showcases run several times during education session hours: * At the Convention Speakers Showcase, 15 selected members of the National Speakers Association, Phoenix, Arizona, speak their pieces. * At the Convention Production Showcase, production companies share ideas for themes, sessions, entertainment, and budgeting. * The Promotion Campaign Showcase highlights a sample convention marketing strategy, and a marketing consultant will help you adapt it to your group. * The Technology Showcase brings together meetings software from several providers for you to test drive.

Idea pavilions. Inside the trade show, two tented pavilions are stages for suppliers and association staffers to offer five ideas every 15 minutes.

Food for thought

You'll have at least five venues for networking with partners over a bite. * Networking receptions on Sunday evening invite suppliers to join any of several groups including CEOs by staff size and meeting planners by meeting size. * Power breakfasts early Monday and Tuesday are roundtable conversations with meetings and management experts. * A bull and beer session early Monday evening is an informal setting for connecting with new partners and catching up with old friends. * Salads and Solutions at lunch on Tuesday brings you and partners to topic-specific roundtables in the trade show hall. * Exhibitor appreciation after exhibits close Tuesday is a full evening of dinner and entertainment.

Educational excellence

About 90 percent of forum programming is designed for association CEOs, meeting planners, and associate members to attend together. Dozens of sessions dig into topics like barrier-free meetings, assessment techniques, host committees, better staff meetings, ethics, team building, and more.

Special sessions in the CEO Forum include a hands-on negotiating workshop. Join in role-playing a contract negotiation and examine what strategies work.

The certificate programs run concurrently with other sessions. Five-day programs are offered in communication, convention management, education, finance and administration, general management, and membership marketing.

Three intensive special-topic seminars run one to two days: Symposium for Chief Elected Officers and Chief Staff Executives; Unlocking the Power of the Strategic Plan; and Total Quality Management for Associations.

Kristin Staroba is senior editor of Association Management.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Management and Meetings Forum '92
Author:Staroba, Kristin
Publication:Association Management
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:883
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