3 Innovative Ways Industry Groups are Going Virtual


When precautionary measures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic made large conferences “impracticable” (as they say in force majeure clauses), some industry leaders got creative. The Center for Association Leadership (ASAE), Destinations International and IMEX Group are pioneering new ways to ensure that guests remain connected and are still able to hear from speakers and industry partners in real time. Meeting professionals can learn new tricks for their future hybrid meetings while reconnecting with industry friends from the comfort of their home offices.

Virtual ASAE

On May 12, ASAE announced, in collaboration with MGM Resorts International, that their in-person Annual Meeting and Exposition scheduled for Aug. 8-11 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas will be staged as a virtual event the week of Aug. 10 with a virtual Board of Directors meeting Aug. 7. More information about what the virtual event will look like will be available the first week of June, but ASAE Chief Learning and Meetings Officer Amy Ledoux stated in a press release that “virtual attendees can expect the same great content that we were primed to deliver in Las Vegas. We’re going to structure this reimagined experience to fit every member’s schedule and budget and there are going to be multiple options for engagement.” In giving members options for when and where they can participate, virtual events might actually be able to accommodate more people than live ones while becoming more accessible both financially and logistically.

Destinations International

Meanwhile, over at the association for CVBs, Destinations International’s Virtual 2020 Annual Convention is scheduled for July 14-15. President and CEO Don Welsh announced May 6 that the virtual convention will include over 20 education sessions, industry roundtables, a virtual town hall, shirtsleeve sessions, networking opportunities, a Marketplace of Ideas and gamification opportunities. The Marketplace of Ideas will feature virtual exhibits, resource downloads and one-on-one chats to simulate a live marketplace setting. Including things like virtual exhibits in a simulation is an example of ways to create life-like experiences virtually to keep guests engaged.


After cancelling IMEX Frankfurt, IMEX Group CEO Carina Bauer announced PlanetIMEX. The video game-style simulated world features workshops and platforms for staying connected in a fun, interactive online experience. The website allows users to navigate ‘islands’ of education, networking and community to find key resources, online events and stay up-to-date on news during this turbulent time.


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