Bert Jacobs from Life is good gives a big hug to an NAA attendee

In my last post (that would be Paht 1 of the NAA Bahston conference recap), I talked about some of the elements of what makes the National Apartment Association’s Education Conference & Exposition such a huge success year after year.

Other than my illuminating and unparalleled messaging that persuades the masses to register immediately or they will become as outdated as the 8-track tape (for those born after 1980 you may need to Google what that means), NAA also delivers on product and customer service. All of these elements combined plus innovative thinking is what makes this event such a hit. The first five I discussed last time, so here are the rest.

Questions? Want to try any of this at home? Call us, we’ll put our napkins on the table (see last post for fun photo of me) and see what we can do for your event.

6. Variety and creativity of sponsorships.

  • NAA does an excellent job of offering a variety of sponsorship opportunities. From the staircases, floors, and columns of the exhibit hall to the sides of escalators and window panes of the convention center, the extension of the standard sponsorships (networking events, education sessions, bags, etc.) provided something for every company that wanted to increase their participation at this event.
  • When you (or your meetings planner) go on a site visit, take pictures and videos –it can be on your phone—and show them to the staff back home. The sales and marketing staff may have some ideas on sponsorships or ways to create better experiences for attendees and exhibitors alike.

 7. Very inspiring and relevant paid breakout session speakers (called Thought Leaders).

  • I think I’ll never be the same again. I’m a Life is good® fan and was completely and wonderfully entertained (and learned some great business lessons as well) from Bert Jacobs, the co-founder and Chief Executive Optimist of Life is good®. I didn’t catch one of the Frisbees he threw out to the crowd but I did hear a great joke I’d like to share. Bert asked his family (he’s from Boston) to help him come up with a joke to tell at the National Apartment Association event. His nephew replied,

“Uncle Beht, Ahv’e gat a joke fah the apahtment people.”

“What’s the Eastah bunny’s favorite kahnd of music?”…

“Hip Hop.”

Ha ha. The funny part is his nephew is 21.

  • I also was pleasantly surprised and totally blown away by a session led by Connie Podesta, a professional speaker, therapist, and author.  She explained how humor sells (how am I doing so far?)—and how best to communicate with the different personalities in your office. Now if only I could figure out whether my personality makes me a triangle, square, or a combination rectangle/squiggly.
  • The point is, inspiring speakers like Podesta (who may be in your budget) can provide some great experiences for your attendees while giving them solid business lessons at the same time.

8. Professional event staff to help make registration and other key areas run smoothly.

  • I mentioned the importance of the team in Paht 1—but it’s worth emphasizing that customer service can mean the difference between a good show and one that keeps growing every year. We often think we provide good service or want to, but if you step it up a notch or two you’ll see some real results—an attendee’s experience could determine if they return next year and bring their friends. NAA hired some very professional people who were calm, kind, competent, and who worked hard—just the kind of service you want to give your attendees!
  • Want to talk about how you can create “wow” experiences? Ask us, we’ll give you some ideas on how to change the vibe of your event.

9. Services for attendees.

  • This kind of goes along with customer service and the wows, but to be specific, in today’s business environment, offering space for attendees to check in to work is a no-brainer. But in addition to the computers and Internet connection centers, NAA also provides attendees with phone charging stations all over the facility (yours truly, who left her charger at home, was very appreciative of that service); concierges to help attendees find restaurants and activities in the area; volunteers from local affiliates (or chapters) who were very visible, helped give directions after big sessions let out, and were around to help attendees with questions about the area; refreshment stands in the exhibit hall for those who needed some energy after those intense breakout sessions; and continuous shuttle service to all the conference hotels—just to name a few.
  • Attendees definitely want to know who is else is at the conference—so supply a list they can search through. Offer electronic handouts and a way to print them if they need some for a session. You’ll always need to communicate about last minute changes in the exhibit hall and the schedule—tweet about that but also have a daily newsletter or an area they can visit with a computer screen showing updates. How about a spouse and/or youth program so they can bring their families if they need to?
  • What are some other perks you can provide to make your attendees anxious to register again next year? Call us and we’ll offer you some more ideas.

10. Marketing that covers multiple channels and reaches the right audience. (We saved the best for last—just like the fireworks NAA put on for their attendees at the big party!)

  • Of course we think this is the real reason the event has been such a huge success. Our NAA partners are smart, willing to try new things, and understand we want to target their members with the right messages via the right channels at the right time. We use direct mail, phone messages, social media, electronic tactics, and more.
  • What’s new down the pike? We’ll be seeing how best to incorporate the newest mobile tactics for this audience. But not because it’s cool—because it’s a good channel for this audience.
  • It’s important to capture your audience’s attention—don’t be afraid to try new things and take a risk once and awhile. Your members are human, they probably like to laugh and be entertained. Prove to them your show is innovative and creative and valuable by using innovative and creative marketing tactics. They will break through the clutter, get read, and be better received. Let us do that for you—you just put on a great show!

We can’t wait to get started on NAA’s 2013 show in San Diego! Want to share your best conference story? Tell us here and maybe we’ll showcase your event!

John Jacobs; co founder of Life is good swaps shirts with an attendee then does a cat impression that gets lots of laughs.
One NAA member company brought a large group of employees who bonded and raised over $700 for the kid’s charity that is supported by Life is good.
Great idea for a sponsorship; a logo and message on the staircase leading up from the NAA exhibit hall floor.