Leveraging the huge association presence in Chicago, the American Society of Association Executives brought its annual meeting and exposition to McCormick Place this week, drawing more than 3,500 association executives along with 2,000 industry suppliers.
The welcome reception took place Saturday, August 18 at Wintrust Arena, a 10,387-seat arena across the street from McCormick Place’s West building and adjacent to the 1,205-room Marriott Marquis. One year ago, Wintrust Arena and the Marriott opened almost simultaneously as centerpieces of the up-and-coming McCormick Place entertainment and hospitality district. After David Whitaker, president and CEO of Choose Chicago, welcomed the crowd from the huge stage on the arena floor, country-music star and Chicago native Brad Eldridge performed a rousing show for attendees.
On the morning of Sunday, August 19, the opening general session featured keynote speaker Yancey Strickler, cofounder of crowdfunding website Kickstarter. In 10 years of operation, Kickstarter has helped more than 10,000 companies start up, employing more than 300,000 people. His message to ASAE attendees emphasized that his firm and associations have the same goals: To build community and deliver positive benefits beyond simply driving solid revenue. “Organizational success is not just financial maximization,” he said. “Organizations maintain their relevance by widening the universe of value they provide. You must consistently articulate and defend the values that drive your organization.”
Running from August 18 to August 21, the ASAE annual meeting and exposition delivers more than 120 educational sessions, many of which address meeting, convention and trade show planning as well as adult-learning tenets and techniques.