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"Super Bowl of conventions" headed to Salt Lake City

Published: 03/09/2010
Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake Tribune -- Without blushing, organizers call it "the Super Bowl of conventions."

Don't look to Scott Beck, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau, to diminish the claim, not after the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) announced that its 2016 meeting will take place in Utah's capital city.

Comparing this convention to last July's prestigious gathering of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Beck said, "If MPI were the Winter Olympics, ASAE would be the Summer Olympics. It's twice as big."

So what's the difference?

As its name suggests, MPI is made up of the people who plan annual meetings and other get-togethers for associations and companies. Because they're the people who have a lot of say about where future meetings are held, the Salt Lake CVB made every effort to impress them when 2,200 showed up for last summer's convention.

ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership includes many of those same meeting planners. More importantly, it features the executive directors of those associations. In addition, it includes the people who oversee the associations' continuing education efforts for their membership.

Projected attendance is almost 6,000.

"It's the flagship education and exposition opportunity for associations and nonprofit organizations in the United States, the must-attend event for all association professionals whether they represent trade associations, professional societies or philanthropic organizations," said ASAE spokesman Jakubcq Konyszcq.

He estimated 20 percent of the meeting planners who attend the convention select the host city as the site of one of their own organization's meetings or events within five years of the ASAE gathering.

"So the event is also a major economic boost for the host city," added ASAE president and CEO John Graham.

Beck concurred.

"When the trade association of associations picks your city as host, it tells the market that you are a legitimate site for consideration," he said. "Just the announcement that ASAE is coming is impactful."

It also doesn't hurt, Beck added, that associations tend to put convention centers to full use even more than other groups, who can stage their sessions at area hotels.

Salt Lake City's selection as the 2016 host city was announced in conjunction with ASAE's granting of conventions to Atlanta, Nashville, Detroit and Toronto in the years 2013 through 2017. Neither Salt Lake City nor Detroit has staged ASAE meetings before.

"People are often shocked when they hear about Detroit winning bids like this, but Detroit is a strong convention city," Beck said.

"Detroit and Salt Lake City have similar battles. We have perceptions that people have to get over, but when they do, they recognize that our convention packages are greater than those perceptions."

American Society of Association Executives

Membership in the Washington, D.C-based organization is made up of more than 22,000 association executives representing upward of 11,000 organizations nationally and in 50 foreign countries. Projected attendance is almost 6,000.

Upcoming ASAE meetings

2010 Los Angeles

2011 St. Louis

2012 Dallas

2013 Atlanta

2014 Nashville

2015 Detroit

2016 Salt Lake City

2017 Toronto

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