A turnaround in the format of the education programme of the IMEX Association Day for 2013 resulted in excellent feedback from the 300 association executives attending the annual day of education and networking at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center early today (May 20).
This year’s programme, which was devised by association executives for association executives, set out to dig deep into the most important issues facing association meetings planners as well as their senior directors, and particularly to provide specific takeaways and practical action points.

Three education tracks – executive, operations and meetings – allowed the attendees, who either take part as IMEX hosted buyers or by their own arrangements, to select only those sessions which are most applicable to their business.

After a networking lunch, the executive track offered two afternoon sessions: “The Quest for Relevance – Free is a Business Model”, which was presented by Willis Turner CAE CME CSE, CEO, Sales & Marketing Executives International, Inc. (SMEI); and afterwards “How to Engage Your Members in a Digital Age” by Carla Nagel, Director of the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association.

Running concurrently, the operations track shared lessons learned at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and was led by Kevin Novak, Vice President, New Business Development and Digital Strategies. Novak is responsible for the implementation of an institute-wide web and technology strategy plus the development of the association’s web and software information delivery products. He shared his experience of a body which serves of 80,000 members and has been a hybrid event trailblazer for the past four years. Novak described how the organisation made the transition from a yearly, three-day physical event to a 365 day ‘anytime anywhere’ online engagement and learning environment. The result is that the AIA now offers streamed/on-demand educational content, virtual trade shows, pod-casts, networking opportunities, career counselling and more all year round.

Other sessions in the operations track included a detailed exploration of “Entering New Markets: The Brazilian Marketplace – Economic Powerhouse of South America” by Juliano Lissoni, Managing Director, of MCI Group, Brazil, with contributions from Eduardo Barros, Events Director, Junior Chamber International (JCI ) and Leslie Zeck, Director of Meetings for the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). The session took a detailed look at the seventh largest economy in the world, one which offers huge promise for growth for many associations, and shared insight on the main challenges and opportunities associations face when operating there.

Elsewhere in the meetings track, which was crafted specifically with meetings planners in mind, an ICCA session, led by CEO Martin Sirk, provided expert guidance on how to choose the right evaluation model according to the event. This session broke the group into round tables for discussion and better sharing of individual experience. As with many of the seminars during the day, the ICCA session also qualified participants for CMP accreditation points and Continuing Education Clock Hours.

Danielle Michel, Director Corporate Programme, Airports Council International European Region, Belgium, commented: “The Association Day programme for this year is so much more elaborate, and the new streams all sounded so interesting and relevant that I found it difficult to choose which to attend. The content is inspiring and definitely outside of the box. I’m always looking for support with innovation, and IMEX Association Day provides the perfect opportunity to get new ideas. Being able to meet face-to-face with other Association professionals enables me to discover first-hand the challenges that they encounter, learn about the solutions they implement, and then reflect on these to find my own solutions.”

Reiterating the appeal of the networking opportunities offered by Association Day, Cheryl White, International Facility Management Association, USA, said: “This is my second Association Day, and in addition to the strong content of the education, I love the networking opportunities – it’s a fantastic way to start the show and get the adrenaline pumping. From a general Association perspective, IMEX is a one-stop-shop thanks to the broad spectrum of vendors and networking sessions which helps to attract a great audience.”

Says Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group: “Over the past two years we have completely revamped the Association Day programme. This year our Call for Presentations was extremely successful resulting in almost all the sessions presented during the event. This meant that each session was developed and presented by the association executives themselves creating a true peer-to-peer learning experience. Networking is also extremely important to this group so we ensured that the sessions had a high level of interactivity, as well as building into the programme a good deal of social networking – not least with the popular Association Evening which rounds off the day.”

The annual IMEX Association Day is designed to energise and engage association executives and is supported and co-delivered by some of the global industry's leading associations including ICCA, PCMA and ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership.

As usual the day ended in an evening reception, held at The Westin Hotel, which was attended by 900 industry professionals. The buyers from the day all attend the evening event, which is also open to exhibitors and members of the IMEX partner associations (AIPC, ASAE, DMAI, ESAE, IACC, IAEE IAPCO, ICCA and PCMA). This format allows all guests to get an early start with business and networking connections before the trade show opens the following day.