Five Conference-Planning Trends at the 2017 IMCA Annual Conference Experience

By Sean Walters
CAE, Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, IMCA  

Like all contemporary professions, the conference planning industry is evolving.  IMCA hosts more than 4,000 attendees at our 10 conferences and seminar programs each year, so I thought I’d share a brief post on what we’re doing to evolve.

IMCA’s meeting planners are the best in the business (in my humble opinion) at creating an intimate, inviting, and innovative atmosphere within each event. Hundreds of live-event options are available to financial advisors each year—many free or sponsored by product or service providers—but, year after year, more than two-thirds of advisors who have attended IMCA events prefer them to other industry conferences.1

Here’s why:

Technologies. IMCA uses TweetBeam for Twitter feeds, live polling during select conference sessions, and radio frequency identification technology for recording continuing education (CE) credit.  Each live conference is supported by a mobile app that includes all presentation handouts, IMCA’s Twitter feed, videos, agenda personalizer, and coming soon, the ability to schedule meetings with other attendees.

Attendee engagement. In addition to opportunities for attendees to exercise together (yoga, fun-run, CrossFit), our loyalty program for repeat attendees provides them with exclusive gifts, suite upgrades, room amenities, and limo pickups at the airport.  At the IMCA 2017 Investment Advisor Forum in New York recently, we hosted 30 repeat attendees for a special breakfast and book signing with restauranteur Danny Meyer.

Conference within a conference. The best conferences make it challenging for attendees to pick between multiple sessions.  This year in San Diego, advisors can choose to attend the IMCA 2017 Annual Conference Experience—ACE, OR the conference within a conference, IMCA’s inaugural 2017 Masters Series Conference:  Advanced Business Strategist program, featuring in-depth workshops with top faculty from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, on running a business or leading a team.

Money-back guarantee. Few conference organizers stand behind their product. IMCA’s net promoter score for its live events averages over 45 (for comparison, the Apple iPhone has a NPS of 50).  We know that if advisors will try our conferences they will come back.  We began offering the money-back guarantee on our conferences in 2013, and to date we have had fewer than a dozen who have requested a refund.

“Bricks and clicks” CE. Many sessions are video recorded, repackaged by topic, and sold online as mini-courses.  Attendees of live events have access to up to five of the top-rated sessions from an event at no additional charge.

100% peer-directed content. Conference programs are developed by practitioners for their peers (“for us, by us”).  Though you may find presenters from product or service companies on IMCA programs, all presenters are selected on their merit—there is no pay-to-play option for sponsoring companies.  The volunteers on our program development committees are by far the most essential ingredient to our current conference success.

 

1IMCA Membership Survey, February 2017

 

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