Event Reinvention: ASAE Breaks the Mold with XDP
When the CEO of ASAE, John Graham, asked Don Neal, the Founder of 360 Live Media, to offer his insights on the 40-year-old event, Springtime, neither of them imagined that ASAE would change the game with a bold, new event, Xperience Design Project (XDP). The following is a behind-the-scenes look at the transformation of a trade show into a brand-new experience that will change the game for association events.
WHY REINVENT NOW?
John Graham: First of all, Springtime was a very successful event for ASAE, our members and the entire association meetings industry. But the world has changed since 1977. Today, our community is seeking new ways of learning, connecting and procuring meeting services.
Don Neal: We heard loud and clear from over 150 association executives, meeting professionals and business partners that ASAE had the opportunity to bring a new event model to the industry. They craved a fresh approach to designing and delivering indispensable events. XDP breaks the mold.
WHAT RESULTS DO YOU EXPECT?
JG: A new approach to doing business, applying learning and building meaningful connections. XDP will serve as a laboratory for marketing, learning, technology and the entire industry of association events.
DN: We expect ASAE to achieve what we at 360 Live Media call the 6Rs: increasing Reach across the audiences responsible for designing events; achieving strong Retention by building a community that doesn’t evaporate after the event; increasing Relevance by bringing the most successful people together and sharing ideas; enhancing Reputation by making associations more competitive with for-profit events; and, of course, achieving Revenue and ROI goals so that ASAE can continue to invest in its members.
WHAT MAKES XDP DIFFERENT?
DN: A fully integrated curriculum versus a program. No breakout sessions. A trained faculty versus traditional speakers. An all-day lab where everyone works, shares and walks away with ideas centered on the five key topic areas integral to an exceptional event: marketing, experience, technology, location and learning. No breakfast, lunch and dinner—instead, all-day grazing with delicious, healthy food to nourish the brain and the soul. That’s just a sneak peek.
ANY REINVENTION ADVICE?
JG: Do your homework. Make sure your team aligns on objectives. When you hire a firm to reinvent your event, hire people who’ve done it, come with fresh thinking and have the results to back up their claims.
DN: I agree with John 100%. You also have to be bold. Take smart risks. Make sure the agency you hire is focused on the same goals and treat them as a partner, not a vendor. ASAE is an exceptional organization that sets high standards and has its members’ best interests at heart. They view 360 Live Media as a trusted advisor. They listen, push back, agree and adapt. Ultimately that’s what a great partnership is all about.
This interview originally appeared in ASAE’s Buyer’s Guide.