The Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) held its annual conference in Vancouver from October 22 to 25, 2019. Rather than exhibiting at this year's event, I attended the conference on behalf of Tourism Kelowna as a delegate. This strategy provided a greater opportunity to network with various key association executives as well as third party meeting planners during the conference keynotes, breakout sessions, round table discussions, and social events. 

Additionally, there were opportunities to gain insight into the common challenges many associations face and to get a better understanding of how our destination can service this unique market. Keynote speaker, David Allison, challenged the audience to determine whether we are marketing to our members based purely on demographics; he suggested taking a closer look at what our members find valuable and really tailor our services to meet those needs. 

Collaboration was also a common theme during the conference. In my role with Tourism Kelowna, I need to collaborate with our stakeholders, clients, and team members on a daily basis in order to achieve success.  One idea that really spoke to me was the concept of having a "needs parade." When you have are having a group discussion or brainstorming session, everyone would take a turn expressing a need, and the others in the group would share how they could help meet that need or provide a connection that might get you closer to meeting that need.  Simple concept but powerful outcomes.  

I was also able to participate in a case study on strategic planning, value proposition, and member engagement hosted by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE).  This session reminded the audience about the importance of scaling back on the number of initiatives we are doing in an effort to focus on the quality and ensuring we are creating value for members.  It also highlighted the importance of identifying an organization's perceived value for members versus what the members actually find valuable. Interesting fact: members of OSPE actually find events and networking opportunities the most valuable reason for being members and this tied in with what keynote David Allison highlighted about the association sector overall; events and networking rank highest in his value graphics.  

For more information on this event or the association market, please reach out to me at (587) 716-5599 or via email at