What changes, if any, do we need to make to keep annual conference as a vibrant, well attended event? – Tony Landolt, Candiate for Director
Change the perception. Having attended 19 of the last 20 conferences, and watching attendance exceed over 7000 people and then this past year fall below 3000, the one thought that keeps coming back to me is VALUE. Do we as a profession perceive this meeting as a valuable commodity? To me, value is the keyword that we need to keep focus on, and keep in the forefront of everything we do. You can talk about costs. You can discuss vendor turnout. You can examine dates, times, and locations. All that is considered important. However we must offer programs that are interesting, important and valuable to information professionals.
If we cannot bring value to our members then we are spinning our wheels. Value is putting together programs that inspire individuals to want to spend valuable time and hard earned money. We need the programming to be important and beneficial to each of us that will make this conference offer something that no one else can give. Value is showing members that we do care, that we do have something more to offer than an open bar on the exhibit floor or free gifts. If we can offer value, then costs–though still important–can give someone reason to attend. The other issues, like conflicting dates and exhibit floor time, begin to take a back seat so that vendors and attendees will no longer complain about low turn out.