Engagement + Marketing

AIHA and the Power to Change

The Future Meet project is exploring the future of trade shows.

Manifest Digital’s Bryan Campen interviews Peter O’Neil, CAE, executive director of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and recently installed 2011-2012 chair of ASAE, as part of the Future Meet project, which is exploring the future of trade shows.

Peter is no stranger in these parts. He turned up in a post I wrote about a similarly themed PCMA Masters Series program last fall that addressed “Associations and Meetings of the Future: A Look Ahead to 2020.” Not long after that, I interviewed him for a Convene article about the 2009 American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition (AIHce), which lost AIHA nearly a million dollars, and which Peter considers a great meeting experience. “Not that we loved losing almost a million dollars,” Peter told me. “It’s just that it forced the team and I to think differently — not better, but differently.”

Which reminds me of this takeaway from his Future Meet interview:

Decisions with association shows are made so far out (such as booking a city or venue for x years), it is hard to match that to rapid digital changes.

Hard, but not impossible. AIHA tried all sorts of new things in the months leading up to AIHce 2009 to help close the attendee gap, which suggests that in the battle between booking windows and the unforeseen, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of human adaptability.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.