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Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of ASAE, speaks to the media on August 7 at the association's 2023 annual meeting and exhibition in Atlanta. Beside her is William Pate, CEO of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

ASAE Annual Meeting Tops Expected Attendance, Addresses Hot Topics

Association executives and convention/exhibition planners flocked to Georgia World Congress Center for an event that had no virtual option.

With in-person events being critical to the financial health of associations, more than 2,840 members of the American Society of Association Executives attended the group’s annual meeting and exposition to learn about how to improve the marketing and execution of their own meetings, among other topics.

Held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from August 5 to 8, the event was expected to draw about 2,500 attendees. The 2022 version in Nashville drew 2,700 attendees, while the high-water mark for the event was 2018, when 3,000 attendees came to Chicago. More than 1,700 hotel, destination, technology, and other exhibitors also came to Atlanta this year.

For the second year in a row, ASAE chose not to have a virtual component for its annual meeting. Michelle Mason, president and CEO of ASAE, noted in an on-site press conference that the association wanted to focus its efforts on the in-person experience once again this year, but that it is open to altering that approach in subsequent years. Interestingly, the show offered at least two educational sessions on how association-event planners can best run hybrid events and repurpose recorded content from in-person meetings for future educational and marketing purposes.

Of the nearly 100 educational sessions on site, the five that addressed the use of artificial intelligence were filled to capacity. They addressed issues such as using A.I. to optimize operations, marketing strategies, content development, and membership engagement, as well as how associations can use A.I. responsibly in the areas of content creation, marketing, and privacy.

The event’s keynote speaker was Daymond John, founder of the FUBU clothing brand and one of the main players on the business-focused television show Shark Tank. He recounted his path to success and the lessons learned, emphasizing to the audience that in-person interaction is what drives businesses forward while “technology makes communication stilted—people hold back” to some degree on videoconferences. Later, he noted that “there is no excuse to not learn about A.I. Everyone is starting out on a level playing field; if you ignore it, you will create a huge liability for yourself.”

On the final day of the show, Lynda J. Patterson, FASAE, CAE, president and owner of AMPED Association Management, was installed as chair of the ASAE Board, replacing Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE, CEO of the American Institute of Architects.

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