It looks like the the Associations World Congress, now in its 10th year, goes from strength to strength. It took place last week at the Austria Center Vienna and was attended by more than 220 association executives – and all paid for their attendance and coming over, quite unusual in this industry.
Organised by the Association of Association Executives (AAE), the largest conference for employees and officers of professional, scientific and trade membership organisations in Europe aimed to cover a wide range of topics. Along with a list of key speakers was a packed programme of streams and sessions designed to offer great education, networking and information.
If some subjects that were touched upon were more ‘traditonal’ – a whole day was devoted to digital related content looking at member engagement strategies, CRM and MRM, successful online communities and tribal marketing – the AAE tried to innovate, quite successfully, with a Video and TV Channel Stream. Video is a fast-growing communication method and a critical way to provide regular sector information to members. Each month associations are launching video channels/offerings (unrelated to event recordings) and this stream helped guide them on creation, planning and how to fund them.
The speaker line up included people from in and out the association community, like Andreas Felser, executive director of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine; Simon Shelley – head of the ITN Industry News, part of the global ITN news organisation and Konrad Friedrich – head of conference management and marketing at the European Society of Radiology. I particularly liked the keynote speech of Lodewijk Klootwijk, from the European Golf Course Owners Association, who went back to the basics and explained the fascinating importance of tribe or how the sense of belonging is the very essence of any organisation.
The Association of Association Executives (AAE) also announced the launch of its year-round Association Success Story Programme at the Congress, a new, year-round programme that focuses on creating valuable content for associations. The programme takes the form of detailed case studies – how, for instance, organisations have developed or created new products, services and events for their members and particular sector. These include in the areas of: conference mergers and partnerships; multi-location webcast events; adoption of new event technologies; event growth campaigns; sector weeks; publicity and lobbying campaigns; social media projects; eLearning offerings; and member engagement programmes.
Alongside the congress the International and European Association Awards ceremony was held on the evening of 3 May, which recognised excellence in leadership, development and service across European and International membership organisations.
Executive Director of the Year : Anthony Wilkinson, RQA
Effective Voice of the Year : World Obesity Federation – World Obesity Day 2016
Best Social Media Campaign : The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) – Friends of Glass “Endless Lives of Glass”
Conference Development : A2P2 – EAPPC | BEAMS | MEGAGAUSS 2016
Best eLearning / Online Education : European Society for Immunodeficiencies (ESID) – ESID eSchool
Best Association Website : European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA)
Best Membership Engagement: Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)
Best TV Video Channel : European Association of Urology – EAU TV
Best Association E-Newsletter : The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL)
A Special Award for Best Membership Engagement was handed out to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).