NAPBS Reframes Conference Activities to Increase Attendee Engagement

By Meredith Parker, Account Associate

Tchotchkes. Doodads. Swag. If you’re a regular conference attendee, you know that these terms describe the stress balls, t-shirts, pens, and other assorted items available at vendor booths in a conference’s exhibit hall. While the exhibit hall is a place to load up on office supplies, it is more importantly the location where topic-specific vendors can share information about their products. Because not every attendee has the need for color-changing cups or the desire to talk to vendors, it is common for conference planners to provide an incentive to visit booths.

One of IMI’s clients, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), has used an exhibitor bingo card as an incentive in the past. Upon registration, attendees were given a bingo card with squares to be signed by vendor representatives as attendees visited their booths. Attendees returned the filled card to the conference registration desk and were entered to win a prize. The bingo card has successfully encouraged attendees to talk to vendors; however, it has been utilized frequently in the past and for its 2018 Annual Conference, NAPBS wanted to do something fresh.

In the 15 years since it was established, NAPBS has grown from a U.S.-based trade association to an international alliance of professional background screening firms with the mission of advanc[ing] excellence in the screening profession. In early October, NAPBS members from the United States and its Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Canada Chapters gathered in Baltimore, Maryland for its 2018 Annual Conference. This year’s conference theme, “Passport to the World” reflected NAPBS’s transition from representing national to international background screening firms and consumers. In alignment with their theme, they forewent the exhibitor bingo card for a booklet modeled after the universally-recognized U.S. passport. This booklet, called the Passport to the Exhibit Hall, reminded attendees of NAPBS’s international presence and provided an innovative way to engage with exhibitors.

At the conference registration desk, NAPBS staff asked attendees if they were interested in playing the Exhibitor Passport Game. They showed attendees the passport and explained that at each booth, attendees could get a square “stamped” by the corresponding vendor, just like going through customs on a jet-setting adventure. In an educational twist on rubber stamps, NAPBS distributed sheets of stickers to exhibitors which were printed with facts about the background screening industry to educate participants as they moved from booth to booth. To be entered into the prize drawing, participants had to visit at least half of the 50 booths and return their Passports to the registration desk on the last day of the conference.

Staff at the registration desk noticed increased interest and participation in the exhibitor passport game than in exhibitor bingo of past years. In fact, when some attendees brought their passports to be entered into the prize drawing, they asked if they could keep their passports as mementos, valuing the facts which had been “stamped” inside. This is great news for NAPBS as it means that its vendors received good traffic in the exhibit hall. Also, the conference experience will be shared with industry professionals as returning attendees share their passports with coworkers.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the exhibitor passports was unexpected, and NAPBS is thrilled with the way that a simple tweak to an existing conference activity has given them and their vendors more exposure. They are already pondering how to add a creative spin to other conference elements to engage attendees, further their theme, and execute their mission.

Have you attended or facilitated a conference that found a new way to make attendees excited about conference programming? Leave your comments below.

Are you our Perfect Match? The Top 4 Qualities IMI Brings to Clients

By Lee Claassen, CAE, Account Manager

If IMI’s integrity, empathy, emotional intelligence, vision, judgement and passion – all qualities essential to working successfully with non-profit organizations – aren’t enough, what else compels organizations to engage IMI in ensuring their future success?

  • Experience: IMI’s team has 170+ years of combined non-profit management experience and expertise ranging from strategic planning and leadership development to finance, membership, marketing and communications, meetings and events, fundraising and all things in between. There’s not a non-profit situation or challenge IMI’s team hasn’t confronted and successfully met.
  • Optimal Size: IMI is a medium-sized association management company that is large enough to support clients’ needs, but small enough that they each receive individualized service and benefit from IMI’s collective expertise.
  • Individualization: Each client is assigned an account team of IMI employees that best fit the needs of the client. Specialists are drawn from a pool of personnel resources and are assigned on an as-needed basis to projects. We work with our clients continually to ensure that they are fully supported in the way that best develops their goals and objectives and meets their members’ needs.
  • Team Approach: Since IMI’s company philosophy advocates a team orientation to the workload, IMI clients have the added benefit of getting to know, and being known by, multiple employees within the company. For all projects, multiple people are involved from concept to completion so work can continue uninterrupted in the event that a team member is unavailable.

With 35 experienced employees, IMI provides exceptional customer service and a highly personalized approach to each client; in fact, we would tout that attribute as the single most important reason for the success of our clients. While we have great respect for the business needs and member satisfaction of each client, IMI clients are also our friends and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Are you interested in learning more about what IMI can do for your non-profit? Email me at lee@imiae.com for more information.

Individualization on an International Scale at INACSL’s Annual Conference

By Meredith Parker, Account Associate

Around the IMI Office, summer is known as a time when we have the most staff birthdays, the most creative fun committee events, and the most hectic office environment. During these months, our staff is in a constant flurry of activity, with groups in varying stages of preparing for, facilitating, or debriefing from client events held all over North America.

One of IMI’s largest clients, The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning (INACSL) has close to 2,000 members spread across the world. Each year since 2006, it has held an Annual Conference with about 800 attendees. Because much of INACSL’s membership is American, all of its conferences have been held in the United States; that is, until this year. In 2018, in line with its international focus and in order to recognize its significant number of Canadian members, INACSL’s signature event was held in Toronto, Canada.

Though Toronto is just a hop over the national border between the United States and Canada, INACSL anticipated that its conference would host many first-time attendees because some of its regular, United States-based attendees would be unable to obtain funding for international travel. Also, INACSL knew from past conference feedback that one of the highest-rated benefits of their conference is networking opportunities. With these factors in mind, INACSL developed ideas to help each of the 500+ conference attendees feel individually touched.

First, INACSL created Canada House as a “home away from home” for attendees. During the conference, Canada House hosted light snacks and beverages during breaks, information about restaurants and activities in Toronto, and giveaways like Canadian themed gift baskets and maple syrup – some which were free for all and some which had to be won through games or raffles. Decorated with Adirondack chairs, pictures from around Canada, and the extremely-popular cutout of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada House became a popular stop for attendees throughout the conference as a place to grab a quick cup of coffee, gather information about local sights, and a rendezvous point for casual or organized outings, including a run/walk exercise group that met each morning.

In addition to providing Canada House as a nexus for conference social activities, the INACSL team created specific opportunities for conference-goers to connect outside of educational sessions. One of these opportunities was pay-your-own-way dinners out. Before the conference, INACSL made six-person reservations at area restaurants for several nights of the event. On-site, they provided sign-up sheets for individuals to claim one of five spots on any reservation, with the sixth spot held by a someone from their Membership Committee. These groups would meet at Canada House, walk to the specified restaurant, and enjoy dinner together. This idea was a hit with conference attendees, especially those who traveled to the conference alone as first time attendees, because it provided a low-pressure way to meet other people in the same situation, get out of the hotel, and experience Toronto culture. In addition, because there was an experienced INACSL member at each dinner, there was a helpful resource for any conference or INACSL-related questions.

The INACSL Annual Conference, 2018 was a huge success – and the INACSL Team’s eye for individualization played a key role in making attendees feel welcomed, engaged, and ready to learn.

What strategies have you used to engage attendees at a large conference? Comment below.

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

 

Countdown to Accreditation

By Whitney Thweatt, CAE, account manager

IMI recently checked off one more item of the list on our AMC Institute accreditation poster and is only a few steps away from completing the accreditation journey.

As an effort to demonstrate our company’s commitment to quality, service and excellence, as well as employee training and education, IMI is pursuing accreditation from the AMC Institute.

Why? By achieving accreditation status, we are ensuring that best practices are documented and woven into our processes consistently across all clients. Current clients will feel confident that we maintain the highest standards. Communication will be ongoing with clients to ensure all services are provided in an effective and efficient manner. By successfully completing the accreditation process, we can establish a basis for benchmarking and enhancing established documented internal controls and operating systems, as well as identifying greater efficiencies and quality control procedures.

The AMCI Standard of Good Practices for the Association Management Company Industry encompasses the following:

  • Client Contracts: Review Procedures and Requirements
  • Servicing the Clients and Service Delivery Procedure
  • Evaluation of Services
  • Financial Management and Internal Controls
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Employee Recruitment and Selection
  • Employee Training and Professional Development Procedures
  • Subcontracting and Purchasing Requirements
  • Record Keeping Requirements/Continuity of Operations
  • Internal Quality Control Requirements

Over the past several months, IMI staff has been hard at work reviewing internal processes, policies and procedures to see if they fall in line with the Standard, compiling all documentation of our internal systems and processes, and updating or creating any policies necessary.

We recently completed staff training on all company policies and Standard sections. The final step prior to scheduling a third-party audit is to conduct an internal audit to ensure we’ve adopted all practices that we have created.

While it has been a long and arduous process, it is one that will greatly benefit both IMI and all of our client partners.

The last item on the accreditation checklist poster? “Hold an accreditation party!” Stay tuned to hear how we’ll celebrate!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us at info@imiae.com to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.