Just returned from four great and exhausting days in Toronto for the 2009 ASAE Annual Meeting. I’ve attended 10 of the past 11 annual meetings (when ASAE was in Hawaii, my wife was inconsiderate enough to give birth to one of our children at the same time). This was a good meeting, but not ASAE’s best. Regardless, I had a great time, made some great new connections, and best of all, reconnected with many of my friends and colleagues in the association market. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Some highlights and lowlights:

  • General sessions with Hamel and Li were pretty mediocre. Hamel didn’t tell me anything new (although he was entertaining) and Li’s presentation was the equivalent of having a Forrester research paper read to me. She was perfectly pleasant and well-spoken, but not the least bit inspiring or entertaining.
  • The couple of thought leader sessions I attended were quite good, especially David Nour. David was funny and provocative. Matt Weinstein was also very entertaining, though I confess to not being a fan of sharing my deepest pain with a complete stranger.
  • In year’s past, I think ASAE had the thought leader sessions separate from other educational sessions. This year they competed against the other educational sessions. I don’t like that format.
  • The Toronto convention center is waaaay too big for this size conference. And what’s up with the floor numbers going UP as you go DOWN deeper into the convention center? Is that some sort of metric system thing?
  • I’m told Toronto is a beautiful city, but from my impression of the opening reception, Toronto looks like the inside of a convention center. Oh, wait, that’s because it WAS inside the convention center. Why?
  • ASAE did “author chats” this year, inside the bookstore. Great idea, but not well-publicized, and so not well-attended. I enjoyed doing mine. Hopefully ASAE will continue doing this and will market it better next time.
  • Speaking of my book, I was introduced to someone at the meeting who exclaimed to me, “Hey, you’re the guy with the book, right?” Yes….yes, I am.
  • I very much enjoyed presenting my session with Renato Sogueco of the Society of American Florists and David Gammel of High Context Consulting. The attendance was good and attendees were well-engaged.

Even though this wasn’t ASAE’s best effort, it was still good, my complaints above notwithstanding. Aside from ASAE’s discipline-specific conferences (e.g., technology conference, marketing and membership conference), the annual meeting is still the single best source for all things association-related, and thus will contine to be on my must-attend list.