What I took back home from the International/European Associations Congress #acie13 – open letter to @AssociationRes –

Open letter to the organizer

Dear Mr. Hutt,

Arriving at sunny Estoril, checking into a splendid hotel just a walk away from a great venue for the conference, you feel everything is there to have an awesome time. And I did, especially in the company of the Belgian and Dutch colleagues whom we initially met at the ASAE conference in L.A. in 2010. We enjoyed both the off and on site activities: all being professionally organized and easily accessible.

Nevertheless, I want to give three things to consider about the conference – as you asked to do when we met during the opening reception.

Attendance list –  I met a lot of new and interesting people. I luckily did my homework, so it was easy for me to trace some of the people I definitely wanted to meet. To connect and network even more effectively, I would have very much appreciated an overview of all delegates. Perhaps by creating a wall with pictures and names – checking this out would have been for many delegates a conversation starter in its own right.

Keynotes –  I was a bit disappointed about the two keynotes. The first being quite theoretical, the second brought with stylish grandeur. And I do not question their depth or insights, but neither of them really touched me. Keynotes have to be overwhelming, inspiring, unlocking enthusiasm about what the conference is about and what is to come, guiding and pushing people out into the different streams of sessions.

Sessions – In general the many sessions had a lot of potential: different points of view by speakers, panel discussions with moderators. A comment I heard several times was that there was too much overlap in the presentations, and some of them were not appropriately focused on the topic. Seen that a lot of the delegates were senior executives, a more interactive approach, utilizing to the fullest the experience of all present, would have created a more fulfilling peer-to-peer exchange.

All things considered though Damian, it was a very nice event, and as we have a proverb in Dutch: the best captain is standing on the pier. Therefore, I am convinced that it is time for organizations such as ESAE, FAIB and the national societies for association executives to step up and help not only to provide body to the conference but a heart for association management as well. And where better to find passion than in Paris !

Kind regards,

Marc Mestdagh
Coordinator Belgian Society of Association Executives

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