A Walk Through Guide for ASAE’s 2012 Annual Conference: My On-Site Schedule

This is part two of a three-part series focusing on what to do before, during, and after this year’s ASAE Annual Conference. This second post is my in-depth (and probably overly detailed) on-site schedule including sessions and events I’ll be attending. You may also want to see my posts on Five Tips for an ASAE Annual Conference First Timer and A Walk-Through Guide to ASAE’s Annual Conference: Pre-Conference Prep. (Sorry, this is a long post!)

Update August 6, 4:16pm – I added a few other social events on Sunday and Monday I thought sounded interesting but will be unable to attend.

On-Site Tips for Attendees

Have a plan
Know what you want to get out of the conference, what you’re going to do while you’re there – it’s much easier than constantly flipping through your program finding out where to be next.

Pick a few sessions
Line up a number of educational sessions for each time slot. You’ll see below I picked three for each time slow in case some of them are full.

Clear your calendar
Try to be 100% unavailable for work so you can focus on the conference experience.

Spend some time in the expo hall
If you’re responsible for marketing your association’s conferences, talk to the CVBs in the cities you’ll be visiting.

Meet new people
Don’t sit with friends you already know during sessions, lunches, and events. It feels safe but people are less likely to interrupt two comfortable friends and you’ll end up limiting yourself.

Phones to silent
As AMC Theatres always say, Silence is Golden, only when you’re in a session though. There’s always someone who forgets to do this.

Pace yourself
If you try to be everywhere in the first day or two, you’ll crash well before the end of the conference.

There’s something about live-tweeting and conversing with all the other association professionals on twitter that I love doing while I’m at the conference. If you’ll be tweeting at the conference, let me know if I need to add you to my ASAE Annual Conference Twitter list. Follow the list if you’re looking for people to follow during the conference.


If you have the fortune of landing on Saturday, you’re in luck. It’s so much easier getting into conference mode if you arrive on Saturday. This year, my flight plans didn’t get me into Dallas early enough to do one of the Dallas Double Take Tours. I’ll land in Dallas around 1:15pm or so, this will give me plenty of time to get to my hotel and settle in.

I expect to arrive at the hotel around 2pm or so. If you have a little bit of time this afternoon, use it to get settled into your room. I always unpack my entire bag; everything either goes onto a hanger in the closet or into a drawer. Trust me; it’s much easier than trying to get ready each morning out of your suitcase.

Ironing Tip: Once I’ve unpacked everything, the first thing I usually do is take all my clothes and hang them in the bathroom – turn on the hot water and steam all the wrinkles out of my clothes. Some items may require ironing anyways but this usually gets me a solid start. Or you can skip this step and go straight into ironing all of your clothes. I usually find a few steam sessions does the trick for me.

7:30 – 10:30pm
Definitely make your way to the Opening Night Celebration at Cowboys Stadium. ASAE will be providing bus/shuttle service from all the hotels to the opening celebration, so don’t worry about taking a taxi to the party. Hopefully you packed your favorite football jersey – definitely sport that. I’ll be coming in bar shoes, jeans, and my Tom Brady Jersey (Go Pats!). Last year’s opening celebration did not disappoint and this year’s should be stellar as well. Make sure you visit the conference center to “register” and pick up your badge holder – badges will be required to get in.


6:00 – 7:15am
Each year ASAE hosts a 5k Fun Run/Walk during annual. It’s something I’ve wanted to do but a 6am start time is a bit rough for me. This year, I’ll be skipping out on it in lieu for a few extra hours of sleep. Maybe next year

8:30 – 10:00am
The first session of the conference will be Opening Session with James Carville, Karl Rove and Michelle Bernard engaging in a spirited, insightful, and provocative discussion. I’m having some difficulty seeing the purpose of this session to association professionals but how often will I have the opportunity to hear these three speak in person?

10:00am – 1:30pm
More and more I’m starting to realize the Association Solutions Marketplace with Lunch is a missed opportunity for a lot of people. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed myself saying on a number of occasions “I’ll be at ASAE’s annual, I can — look for vendors, talk to our vendor, and meet with our future CVBs — while I’m there. There’s no other place where I’m going to have this kind of access to my current, future, and potential business partners that I’ll have during the Expo Hall. I highly recommending checking to see if any of your vendors will be there; this is a great opportunity to get some one-on-one time if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback about their products. Also, it’s an included lunch!

Visit the On-Site bookstore. This is a tough one for me…while I do love great association books I rarely want to carry them home. If I have space in my checked bag I’ll buy them but I usually don’t want to carry them on board with me. The conference discounts are nice though

1:30 – 2:45
This is the heart of the conference, the learning labs. The good sessions fill up quickly so make sure you pick a few sessions in each time slow you are interested in attending. I think it’s also important to use this opportunity to explore areas you don’t normally get exposed to. I make it a habit of picking three sessions in each time slot and rank them in order. More times than not my first, second, and even third choices have been packed forcing me to scramble to find a new session.

When I’m picking my sessions I’m usually all over the place. My primary focus is communications and marketing but I also try to attend sessions about meetings, governance, membership, and sessions for my own personal/professional development.

For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • Business of Meetings: The Strategic Impact of Digital Events on Meetings
  • Video as an Educational and Communication Tool
  • Conversations that Matters: How Online Community is Changing the Way We Work

 Interesting Session: Story Slam/Coaching Jam

Travel Alberta is hosting baseball game, Texas Rangers vs. Detroit Tigers, immediately following the ASAE tradeshow. Head to the Texas Rangers baseball game in an air conditioned bus to watch from a private suite.

3:15 – 4:30
For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • The Science Behind Member Loyalty
  • Grow Revenue through a Successful Partnership Program
  • The Future of Tradeshows

5:00 – 6:00pm
Community Section Receptions are a great time for you to mingle with other association professionals in the same position as you. Take this opportunity to meet and mingle to develop your network of peers. These will be association peers you’ll be reaching out to when you come across an issue or problem that you need help with. Don’t feel like you have to stay in on reception either, especially if you’re a small staff professional who is responsible for multiple areas. Keep in mind, you don’t want to be one of those networkers who only spends 5 minutes in each place and denying yourself the opportunity to make some genuine connections.

The rest of the evening is open for the conference. This is when most vendors will schedule their social events for clients and/or new prospects. Basically, this is a big “social” night for all attendees. You will find some attendees planning dinners or happy hour with friends, other attendees going to vendor parties, some hanging out at the local pub. Whatever you do, don’t spend the rest of your night in your room. Below are some of the events I’ll be attending:

This is an event I won’t be attending but looked amazing. Fort Worth CVB is hosting a Best of Fort Worth on the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. If you’re interested in attending RSVP to Linda Jingles at lindajingles@fortworth.com or call 817.698.7833 no later than August 8.

6:30 – 9:30pm
I’ll be starting my night off with Higher Logic’s, Fiesta Fabulosa at the Iron Cactus. Their party will feature a Mariachi Band and true Texas food and drink; I’m looking forward to this. For registration information, contact Lauren Wolfe, RSVPs are required.

I won’t be attending this but I thought it was interesting, a CVB Coalition event, Welcome to Our Home Away From Home by Visit Pittsburg, Visit Milwaukee, and Travel Portland at the Belo Mansion.

8:30pm – 2am
Multview’s Party Your Assn Off is definitely on the top of my DO NOT MISS events. Last year’s party was an amazing event and this year is looking to be amazing as well. This event is open to all registered attendees so make sure you sign up for this!


7:00am – 8:30am
Come join your industry peers for this celebration of friends and colleagues as ASAE recognizes the 2011 class of CAEs, Fellows, DELP Scholars, and Leadership Academy participants (that’s me!).

8:45 – 10:00am
For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • Blah Blah Blah: Forget the Ordinary and Learn to Write Marketing Copy That Gets Responses
  • Under the Hood: “Car Talk” Takes on Association Publishing
  • Hot Topics in Antitrust Law

Interesting Session: Strong Associations of the Future

10:00am – 1:30pm
If you’ve never been to ASAE’s annual conference, the Association Solutions Marketplace with Lunch floor is HUGE. I’ll definitely be using this second day to meet with CVBs of our future location meetings and vendors with specific products. Even if you aren’t looking for a vendor now, chances are you will be at some point – take some time to walk up and down the aisles.

1:30 – 2:45pm
For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • Ignite – THIS IS A MUST ATTEND. I’ve attended 3 ignites with two of them as a speaker and everyone says they’re amazing. You get exposed to a variety of content in a short period of time. This is especially great when the speakers are engaging; it’s such a great event. Here are videos from the two Ignite Talks I’ve done at ASAE events, Twitter Saved My Life: Not Really, but Maybe and Go Innovate Yourself: Seven Principles Inspired by Steve Jobs if you want a small taste. I highly recommend taking a look at ASAE’s YouTube channel to see the videos from all the Ignite talks they’ve done.
  • The Hottest Tool in Member Retention: Content
  • 21st Century Pricing: How to Price Dues, Programs, and Products

Interesting Session: Silos are for Farms: Integrating Your Organization’s Content to Increase Member learning, Value, and Success

3:15 – 4:30
For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • Association Marketing is SOOOO Vanilla
  • Creating Social Strategy
  • Delivering Now: Lessons from a National Industry Awareness Campaign

Interesting Session: How to be an Association Rainmaker

4:30 – 5:30pm
For all of you association publishing professionals, join Association Media and Publishing for their Networking Get-Together at Bob’s Steak & Chop House in the Omni Downtown Dallas. If you haven’t registered yet, sign up through their website, you’ll need an AM&P account.

5:30 – 8:30pm
This is the first time I’ll be attending ASAE’s Foundation’s – The Classic VIP Reception at the Meyerson Symphony Center – home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I’m looking forward to food from Dallas’ top chefs and restaurants and their local celebrity chefs.

7:00 – 10:00pm
Following the VIP Reception will be ASAE’s Foundation’s – The Classic at the Winspear Opera House to indulge in the ‘new’ Dallas with catering by Wolfgang Puck (this guy seems to be everywhere these days).

9:00pm – 1:00am
The YAPstar network-FEST is always another great social gathering during ASAE’s annual. This year’s event will be hosted at the Hard Rock Dallas. The first 125 guests will receive two free drink tickets thanks to Association Mavens and Aggregage – thanks to both of them for their support this year and of course Hard Rock for the venue!


9:00 – 10:15am
For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • Can You Hear Me Now? Communicating With Members on Multiple Platforms
  • How Relevance is Transforming the Direct Marketing Strategy of Associations
  • Creating and Selling E-Books – Today

Interesting Session: Earning the CAE: your Path to Success in Association Management

10:45am – 12:00pm
For this time slot I’ve selected:

  • Today, Tomorrow, & Beyond: Changing Demographics in America
  • Less is More: Successfully Evaluating Your Programs and Services
  • Advanced Social CRM: Avoid Social Data Silos

Interesting Session: Upgrade to Free: 50-Plus Free and Bargain Tech Tools and Apps to Make Your Worklife Easier

12:15 – 2:00pm
I’m really looking forward to the Closing General Session with Daniel Pink, The Moving Business: The Tender Art and Surprising Science of Convincing, Compelling and Cajoling Others where Daniel will offer a fresh look at the art and science of selling (something we can all try to do better as association professionals).

2:00pm – 7:00pm
If you’re looking for something to do before the Closing Night party and not taking one of the Double Take Tours (I’m sad I missed out on this opportunity), check out the New York Times’ Travel Page, 36 Hours in Dallas. Obviously you won’t have time to do everything on here, but you may find a few interesting things to pass the time Tuesday Afternoon. Of course you’ll want to do some of these activities with your newly found association friends!

7:00 – 10:00pm
On the final night of the conference, celebrate with your fellow attendees at the Closing Night Celebration at Fair Park, the nation’s largest and recently named a “Top 10 Classic American Experience” by CNN.


Have I missed anything for this year’s conference? What are you looking forward to in Dallas?

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