some image

Blog Posts

The Vendors at ASAE's 2019 Annual Meeting - Part 2 of 3

News, Business

Insights come from talking with your fellow conference-goers.

Recently I shared my first impressions of the 2019 Annual Meeting. Today I will broadly characterize the exhibitors.

An indication of the importance of this convention is the considerable investment exhibitors make to attend. In addition to the cost of their staff travel and three days of board, booth decorations and tchotchkes vendors also paid ASAE a minimum of $5K for a small booth and the square of carpet to cover their patch of exhibit hall floor. For the startups I encountered this was not a small expense. Two of the association management system (AMS) vendors had purchased space in both the hall and the lobby. Even narrowly focused vendors whose customers had their own associations told me that, despite their often quiet booths, customers still expected to see them at this meeting.

half of the hall was occupied by charming places to have meetings

The distribution of exhibitors broadly followed how associations earned their revenue. Fully half of the hall was occupied by charming places to have meetings. Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, Canada, and the four corners and the in-between of the United Stateswere present. By the second day, knowledgeable attendees had figured out which booths had good coffee and maybe something stronger. Nearly every booth had something you could take home and so my daughter was delighted with the little stuffed horse from Mohonk, NY and my wife with some samples of excellent Belgian chocolate.

The other half of the hall was about evenly split between AMS vendors, meeting and event products and services, e-learning and certification systems, publication supportand then everyone else. This unsurprisingly mirrors the revenue contribution each service makes to an association’s bottom line. Mirroring declining demand for subscription publications I saw quite a few systems to slice and deliver association content over the Internet instead of paper. There were an impressive number of e-learning and certification systems supporting online courses and efficient certifications showing how that revenue is replacing textbooks and in-person classes to serve a younger membership.

Gen Y and Gen Z ... these demographics represent the future

As I walked the floor I scanned the booths for the words: engagement, Gen Y, and Gen Z, and related terms as these demographics represent the future association customer. Very often these phrases adorned the booths of AMS vendors; and despite the ongoing consolidation there remain plenty of options. iMIS and Community Brands of course had several offerings segmented for every possible variation of association. But in my next post I’ll make special mention of two AMS platforms for what their presence might portend for the future of AMSes.

What’s your perspective? What did you think of ASAE's 2019 annual meeting? Email me at