Technology Helps Meetings Survive Budget Bumps

by Cara Gieringer  on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 12:00 am  

So the next time a visitor attending a mediocre conference session out-of-state hears someone bitterly play the “it’s the economy” card, they can remember that shiny, new “I do business in Arkansas” card is securely tucked away next to the trusty smartphone, along with 200-plus pictures of the family, friends and the family dog.

Arkansans can teach their disillusioned new friend something about the marketing opportunities readily available for anyone with an Internet connection, a desire to learn and an open mind. And if all else fails, a cute pet or baby picture will at least lighten the mood long enough to get through to the end of the session.

For Laughs, And Impact, Try Video

The Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) is the leading association representing owners of inns and bed and breakfasts. PAII hosts the world’s largest annual gathering of innkeepers, The Innkeeping Conference & Trade Show, which was held in Little Rock in January. In addition, PAII is behind the first industry-wide campaign to get more people to stay at bed and breakfasts: the “Better Way to Stay” campaign.

Part of this campaign was the creation of a video promoting Little Rock as the 2012 conference destination.

“It was used as a case study in an educational session during the 2012 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition, which is primarily an educational event for association leadership,” said attendee Alan Sims, vice president of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The gentleman that created and produced the video promoting the PAII annual event in Little Rock was invited to do an educational session on creative ways to stimulate association membership attendance. More than 7,000 people attended ASAE in Dallas this year.”

Sims said the ingenuity of the video inspired the LRCVB to increase its use of innovative video production to better represent Little Rock as a prime destination market.

Jay Karen is the president and CEO of PAII and the creator of the Little Rock video.

Here is the program description of his educational seminar at the ASAE conference in August titled “Association Marketing is SOOOO Vanilla.”

“Most association marketing is pretty bland. Marketing should disturb or excite, but most organizations play it safe by trying to offend no one and rarely trying to make people laugh. If you think your audience won’t appreciate levity, you’re wrong. Dive into some funny stuff that will show you why humor can help you stand out from the crowd. Learn how to energize your communications in a way that will get a chuckle from your audience, a rise in response and open rates, and members wanting to see what you’ll do next for marketing.”

According to the Executive Director’s report from a February 2012 Arkansas Parks and Tourism meeting, the PAII’s annual conference in Little Rock was one of the larger conferences for the organization, with 468 attendees and 160 vendors from around the country. The P. Allen Smith speaking session, which was sponsored by the tourism department, was standing room only with more than 350 people.




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