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Plan Your Next Event at Tinley Park Convention Center

Posted By Jeff Leonard, Monday, December 23, 2019
Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tinley Park Convention Center

Make your next event a success at Chicago Southland’s largest convention venue. Located 30 minutes south of downtown Chicago, Tinley Park Convention Center is equipped with advanced technology, audio/visual services and numerous meeting space configurations to help make your next trade show, convention, expo or meeting remarkable.

Flexible Meeting Spaces and Room for Networking

The Tinley Park Convention Center is available to host a variety of groups and events with its 21 meeting rooms that have the ability to accommodate up to 8,700 guests.

The Convention Center features 70,000 square feet of exhibit space with 58,000-sq.-ft. running continuously, including a 12,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, a 7,100-sq.-ft. junior ballroom and pre-function area, perfect for networking sessions.

Since its expansion in 2011, the Convention Center also has multilevel lighting, acoustical control and sound systems. The Convention Center’s marketing and services team members can help you with menu planning, transportation logistics, floor plans and promotion of your event. Combined with a full-time event staff, an award-winning culinary team and free wireless high-speed internet, Tinley Park Convention Center is ready to assist you.

Convenient, On-site Accommodations

Holiday Inn Hotel – Tinley Park Convention Center has 202 deluxe guest rooms, including suites where attendees can stay on-site and enjoy access to an indoor pool and fitness center all just a few steps away from the attached Tinley Park Convention Center. The property also features a 24-hour business center, on-site dining, free parking and complimentary high-speed internet—making this an ideal location for leisure groups and business convention attendees.

Additional accommodations, approximately 450 rooms, are just a few minutes away at the six hotel properties located across the street from the Convention Center.

Location, Location, Location!

Chicago Southland and the Tinley Park area offer convenient access to both O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport with over 50 airlines and 3,500 flights servicing the Chicago region daily.  

Chicago Southland is conveniently accessible throughout the U.S. by way of Interstates 55, 57, 80, 94, 294 and 355. The Tinley Convention Center is located off I-80 and exit 148B, minutes to nearby shopping and entertainment.

Train service is also easily accessible to the Convention Center with Tinley Park having two commuter rail stations on the Metra Rock Island line. The Amtrak station is also a quick eight miles from the Convention Center.

Let us help you experience the Chicago Southland’s largest convention venue for your next event. Contact the Southland Chicago sales team to learn how we can help make planning your next event a success.

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Chicago Southland FAMs Big Hit For Planners

Posted By Jeff Leonard, Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau aims to accommodate planners by offering a customized FAM tour of the area and its facilities any day of the year. Through FAM tours, planners are able to "familiarize" themselves with the area and plan in real time. Upon the day of the planner’s choice, the Chicago Southland CVB will create an itinerary, assist with on-site visits, and even help meeting and sports groups connect the dots between local decision makers and the key planners within your organization. Whether you want transportation, audio/visual, tour companies, catering, signage, trophies, or other services, they are ready to help make those introductions for you.

The Chicago Southland CVB is here to make planning an event a much easier process. Because the staff at CVB are experts of the area, its features, and amenities, they go above and beyond to cater to every planner’s unique needs. According to the specific needs of the client, the CSCVB can customize a unique FAM tour to incorporate all the sites that a planner wishes to see. From full-service hotel site visits and unique meeting space venues to sports facilities and area attractions, and more, there is no better way to experience all Chicago Southland has to offer than with a customized FAM.

FAM Trips for Meeting Planners 

Meeting planners love FAM trips in Chicago Southland because they can visit all the best meeting locations based on their event specifications. Planners can get a real-life look at what the venue looks like and meet facility staff, rather than just being left to their own research and sorting through online content. Meeting planners may choose to visit the beautiful Tinley Park Convention Center, one of Chicago Southland’s largest and most recently updated full-service meeting venues. They can also visit other full-service meeting locations like the Hilton Chicago/Oak Lawn & Conference Center, the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip, Georgio’s Banquets Quality Inn & Suites Conference Center, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Hotel/Elements Conference Center, and Holiday Inn Chicago Matteson Conference Center. Experts at CSCVB know their area better than anyone else and take pride in personally showing planners just how great their meetings can be outside the Chicago city limits. One such expert, Director of Sales at CSCVB Mary Patchin, says: “Meeting and event planners love attending personalized FAM tours of the Chicago Southland Region because our Sales Team customizes a tour based around their program needs. Whether it’s touring hotels with meeting space or visiting our attractions for an off-site event, the Sales Team makes the process effortless AND maximizes their time here in the Chicago Southland.”

Mary is a Certified Destination Management Executive through DMAI and has a true passion for partnering people with a perfect and personalized experience; you can her at

FAMs for Sports Planners  

Along the same line, FAM trips through the CSCVB enable sports planners to tour different sports facilities around the area. These sports FAM trips or site visits consist of taking tournament planners to facilities that the CVB thinks will be the best fit for the event specifications. For example, soccer event planners might visit various sports venues such as Southland Center, Roma Sports Club and SeatGeek stadium. FAMs allow sports planners to check out the facilities in real time, as well as present the opportunity to talk to the people they will work with during their event. Sports planners often choose to also visit hotels in the area based on their final facility decision, getting a feel for both the full-service and select-service amenities closest to their chosen site. For more information on setting up a customized FAM to explore sports facilities in Chicago Southland, contact Joel Koester at

Group FAM Tours

FAM tours are also an ideal option for group tour planners that may handle many groups with varying interests. FAM tours through the CSCVB allow group tour planners to get a taste for everything the Chicago Southland has to offer, from historic and educational attractions like the Pullman National Monument and downtown Frankfort, to distillery and culinary experiences like The Well and Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant. The CVB can also include FAM or site tour stops at various hotel options.

The CSCVB occasionally offers scheduled group FAM tours, whereby several tour operators visit at one time to experience all the Chicago Southland has to offer. To inquire about an upcoming scheduled FAM tour date, or to plan and customize your own FAM tour, email Tobie Fitzpatrick at and get started.



The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the south metropolitan area and represents 63 south and southwest suburbs of Chicago. The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination management and marketing organization for Chicago’s 63 south and southwest suburbs. The CVB markets the Chicago Southland region as a meetings and conventions, group tours, sports and leisure event destination. For more information, go to

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Chicago Southland Meeting Facilities Top Choice for Event Planners

Posted By YM Administrator, Friday, November 8, 2019
Updated: Thursday, November 7, 2019


Tinley Park Convention Center

By Kim Kislowski

November 8, 2019


The Chicago Southland region has become a top choice for event planners as they identify venues to hold their corporate or association meetings, annual conventions, corporate team building, continuing education programs and other special events.


What makes the Chicago Southland meeting facilities unique and why should planners reach out to Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau? The Chicago Southland CVB can assist event planners in many ways. The CSCVB acts as the primary source of information for the Chicago Southland region. Meeting organizers can rely on the expertise of the CSCVB professional staff to assist in all facets of planning the event. They offer a variety of free professional services to groups booked through the CSCVB including: name badges, welcome banners and tent cards to just name a few. Also, a variety of brochures, videos and electronic files for individuals and groups are available upon request to event planners. These brochures contain information on hotels, attractions, cultural organizations, restaurants, and activities in the Chicago Southland area.


If an event planner looks for assistance with convention suppliers, the CVB has a list of members representing every facet of the hospitality industry including: audio/visual, transportation, decorators, florists, tour companies, specialty items, etc. The CSCVB can introduce event planners to the local suppliers who will help make their event a success.


The convenience of location is certainly one of the best features of Chicago Southland. With six interstates running through the region, it is accessible from any direction, and is just a five-hour drive from eight different states. The Chicago Southland is only minutes away from both Midway International and O’Hare International Airports, has many commuter rail options, and is just 30 minutes outside of downtown Chicago, making it one of the most accessible meeting destinations out there. 


Facilities, Amenities, and Attractions

Chicago Southland offers a variety of facilities to hold any kind of event, big or small. With five full service hotels, a multitude of select service hotel brands with meeting space, La Banque Hotel, a boutique hotel equipped with a retreat room and Tinley Park’s 70,000 sq. ft. convention center, you will easily find the facility perfect for an upcoming meeting, convention or event. All of the Chicago Southland facilities also offer FREE parking, and many of the hotels provide complimentary continental breakfast, making it an affordable option for many.


In addition to their variety of meeting facilities, Chicago Southland has a 38-acre nature preserve called Irons Oaks. Irons Oaks offers programs in outdoor recreation, environmental education, adventure education and corporate training. This is the perfect destination for a company retreat to work on team building skills as well as individual skills. Companies that participate in Irons Oaks’ corporate reach training can expect to leave with enhanced skills in collaboration, communication, problem solving and accountability. The skills learned at Irons Oaks will be sure to create noticeable improvements in the work place.


The Chicago Southland CVB has recently announced a new tool specifically for meeting planners looking to host an event in the Chicago Southland. A new Unique Venues & Activity Guide has been created to offer a menu of fresh event concepts to meeting planners including unique meeting venues, mobile activities that can be added to events taking place in traditional meeting spaces, and social responsibility/community service project suggestions. Whether it is adding group yoga, sip & paint, escape room, teambuilding, or other activities, this new guide will help planners create an unforgettable experience. Planners can reach out to Mary Patchin directly at (708) 895-8200 to receive a copy of this new tool.


The many attractions and endless activities in the Chicago Southland area is a large reason so many people enjoy holding meetings and other events here. Some of the attractions include Accelerate Indoor Speedway & Events, Dave & Busters, Brookfield Zoo, Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, SeatGeek Stadiu, formerly Toyota Park (home of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club), a number of distilleries and wineries, a children’s museum, and Ozinga Field (home of the Windy City ThunderBolts). On top of all of the amazing attractions, the Chicago Southland also has many outstanding restaurants. With award winning breweries, farm to table restaurants, fine dining and more, the only hard part of holding an upcoming event here is deciding where to eat. Chicago Southland is a very lively area that truly has something for everyone.




The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization for the south metropolitan area and represents 63 south and southwest suburbs of Chicago. The Chicago Southland provides an abundance of amenities for meeting planners with an ease of accessibility. With its huge array of lodging and meeting facilities, amazing restaurants and endless activities, Chicago Southland is sure to be the best place for company or group events. For inspiration, you can view their Meeting Video here.


So whether it’s a company looking for corporate team building event venues, an annual company event for 10-2,000, or convention facilities near Chicago, organizers should consider Chicago Southland when planning their next event. To find out more or to contact the CSCVB, check them out at:


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Let the Light in—Creating an Organizational Culture Around Passion and Partnership

Posted By Sherry Budziak, CEO and Founder of .orgSource, Thursday, March 14, 2019

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Closed office doors, break room gossip and a CEO who gives Tony Soprano a run for the money—culture gone wrong is easy to spot. Where work moves forward and employees treat each other civilly, culture may be the caboose on a long train of priorities. Hiding somewhere in the cloud’s dark recesses is a values statement, but no one has actually read it.

Culture may be invisible, but it should never be illusive. That’s why I was excited to have Nancy MacRae, CEO of the Emergency Nurses Association, as a speaker at the Innovation Summit, .orgCommunity’s recent signature event. Nancy has made the deliberate choice to put culture front and center at ENA. This is not an easy proposition, especially for an association with 100 plus employees, two offices and 43,000 members. Giving more than lip service to values like integrity, compassion, life-long learning and excellence starts at the top and requires a conscientious effort at every level of the organization.  

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Why is it important to dedicate precious resources and time to activities that don’t generate revenue or directly benefit members? As a consultant, I’m hired to work on projects that are highly visible. Where culture is left to invent itself, a witch’s brew of insidious problems can create roadblocks and even sabotage critical initiatives. Employees who feud like the Hatfields and McCoys, departments as isolated as walled cities and teams who couldn’t win the sack race at a grade school field day are a project manager’s nightmare. So yes, culture can make or break the bottom line. If you think it’s not a game changer, consider this:

  • Culture reflects people  

  • People create the brand

  • Can you have a quality brand without people who are eager and motivated to deliver top performance?




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Bring Values to Life

Culture was at the heart of Nancy’s decision to take the helm at ENA. She was impressed by the membership’s passion and energy and the board’s desire to grow those qualities along with the organization. ENA’s leaders were looking for a partner who would work with them, and Nancy was ready to make the commitment. Partnership and collaboration are integral to her leadership style. She builds staff teams around those values. “Everyone at ENA has a piece in our success. Nothing is just one person’s responsibility,” she says. “We rally people around the goals.”  

To bring their values to life, the ENA team sought outside guidance. Workforce technology and analytics consultants helped them to identify key cultural markers. These were used as a baseline to discover patterns for growth and develop strategies for improvement. It was not a surprise that passion was one of the strongest traits. Working in teams is a way of life in the nursing community. ENA’s vibrant culture reflects this tight-knit camaraderie and the commitment that emergency nurses feel to their patients and their profession.    

For Nancy and her team, it was affirming to see the quality that drives their organization ranked so highly in the analytics. Continuous testing of their cultural markers demonstrates that the enthusiasm is still growing. The organization takes pride in this strong connection between ENA’s founding values and the present.


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Build a Strategy for Change

 In keeping with the themes of partnership and collaboration, Nancy wanted the entire staff to participate in building ENA’s cultural identity. She organized a broad-based team to analyze the data and discuss its impact. They broke the results down into “sprints,” focusing on one specific area like enhancing communication, for limited periods of time. Small groups did their research, analyzed the results to determine what could be improved, and shared the findings throughout the organization. Culture saturates everything the ENA employees do, from meeting agendas to team goals. Employees intentionally search for ways to keep it top of mind.

If your association has yet to put culture first. Take some inspiration from expert Ann Rhoades, president of People Ink, and consider the ideas below:

  • Evaluate your mission, vision and values statements against reality to ensure that what you are reflects who you want to be.

  • Identify the qualities that your organization values and incorporate them into hiring criteria, interviews and job descriptions.

  • Model, reward and recognize values-based performance.

  • Create incentives for openness, partnership and collaboration and discourage cliques and divisive behavior.

  • Communicate goals broadly to give every employee, from the most junior coordinator to the leadership team, a stake in the organization’s success.



Make Culture Visible

ENA’s August 2018 move to a renovated facility was an opportunity to give the association’s values visual representation. The new office, with its spacious, open concept design, invites innovation and teamwork. Walking in the door, you are surrounded by visuals that make ENA’s heritage and mission exciting and tangible. A 20-foot display showcases significant events on the organization’s timeline. Another wall celebrates ENA’s founders and over 200 photographs of members in action remind employees and visitors of the critical role emergency nurses and their association play in society.

The floorplan is configured to facilitate collaboration. Another goal is to acknowledge diverse work styles and needs. There are 26 different meeting rooms and open areas that can be used in a variety of ways. Whiteboards invite brainstorming and innovation. Private spaces are juxtaposed with seating areas that look more like a hotel lobby than an office. Employees who need quiet time can use individual work pods complete with state-of-the-art technology. There’s even a treadmill workstation in case you’re too busy to make it to the gym.

A staff café featuring natural wood, warm lighting and contemporary fixtures puts the idea of eating ramen at your desk into the realm of the ridiculous; especially when you could choose to sit in a landscaped patio complete with firepit.

Of all these amenities and creature comforts, the most striking element is the light. ENA’s old home was dark and cramped. A haphazard design made it difficult to locate people and encouraged isolation. This bright, spacious office is a metaphor for ENA’s positive approach to its culture, vision and values. Members and staff who spend time here not only feel the passion that ENA inspires, they see it all around them.  


Learn from more inspirational leaders like Nancy at .orgCommunity’s Solutions Day on September 19. Register here.

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Build a Journey to Yes Using Marketing Automation

Posted By Sherry Budziak, CEO and Founder of .orgSource, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Technology creates paradoxes that are as upside down as Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. Aimee Pagano’s recent 30 on Thursday webinar, Survival Kit for Building Your Buyer’s Journey, brought this message home. Machines are giving us the ability to understand and communicate with members more personally than ever before.

If you seek to deeply engage constituents (And, who doesn’t?), marketing automation software offers tools to lift those relationships to a new level. Aimee, who is senior digital marketing advisor at HighRoad Solution, gave an insightful overview on building successful member journeys. Automation is the genie that creates this trajectory, allowing you to deliver the perfect message with impeccable timing. Even if automation isn’t on your agenda yet, you can use Aimee’s advice to make campaign messaging razor sharp.

Set Strategy

Crafting a successful campaign, using automation, is a bit like being a travel agent and planning the perfect vacation for a new client. You start with broad assumptions. As your customer reacts to options, you are able to offer increasingly attractive choices. Each new interaction brings you closer to a sale -- the next logical step in your relationship.

At the wide end of this funnel, your decisions will determine the overall campaign strategy. The goal might seem obvious. You want to grow the love—right? But it’s important to be specific. What are your current revenue and sales priorities? Do you need to:

  • Recruit new members to broaden your base

  • Retain current members and demonstrate value

  • Upsell a special conference or new product

  • Advocate for a position or change in your industry

Of course, you want to do it all. Why not wrap several of these activities in one package? Returning to the travel agent analogy—that’s like offering the Antarctic cruise, an African safari and a weekend in Paris in the same presentation. You risk confusion and your messaging  may even be perceived negatively. Aimee recommends identifying a single goal and developing content specifically for that audience. Your tone and approach will vary depending on whether you are talking to seasoned members, new members, prospects or customers.


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Map the Journey

Aimee identifies four components of every member journey.


Develop Personas

Who are your ideal members? Personas are the path to discovering those people. The goal is to create a character sketch of typical member types. Aimee compares this process to getting to know someone over a cup of coffee. You learn what makes them a good fit for your organization and how to engage their interest by exploring attributes such as:


  • Demographics—Segmenting by age, location, socio-economic information

  • Soft Skills—Considering personality traits, workstyles, etc.

  • Goals—Learning what they seek to accomplish

  • Obstacles—Understanding what could prevent them from joining your organization

  • Opportunities—Discovering where you can engage their interest

  • Challenges—Identifying the problems they seek to solve

If you don’t have all day to spend chatting at Starbucks, there are tools to help you achieve this level of awareness about your constituents. Aimee suggests starting with an empathetic approach. Walk in your members’ shoes. Shadow a member on the job for a day. Be an active listener who pays attention to comments and complaints.

You can strengthen anecdotal information with research such as member needs surveys, white papers and case studies. Mine the invaluable data in your association management system. And, if you have the opportunity to conduct focus groups and one-on-one conversations, seize it. Don’t forget social media. LinkedIn pages can reveal interests and affiliations.

Hiring a consultant to help you create these profiles is another strategy. Aimee points out that staff may come to this exercise with opinions that are based on the members they interact with most frequently. An objective observer can help you avoid bias.




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You may discover that your organization has several personas. Enthusiastic Millennials seeking hands-on experiences, busy mid-career moms and dads with little time to spare and seasoned professionals nearing retirement may all be represented. How each of these audiences consumes content is another defining characteristic. Aimee advises that if this is the first buyer journey you’ve mapped, you may be more successful focusing on one persona. You could narrow your choices by looking at where your organization’s programming and content resources will generate the most revenue and engagement.

Develop Themes

Personas are the characters in your association’s story. Use the attributes you’ve identified to craft themes and narratives that are compelling for them. Aimee provided this example based on her profile as a professional marketer:

Attribute Topic

Soft Skills: visionary Top Trends in Digital Marketing

Goal: Honing expertise, staying current Digital Tricks and Tools

Opportunity: visibility with associations Listing of Upcoming Local Events

Challenge: Managing change aversion Change Management with Associations

Distribute Assets

Just as you target content to your persona’s attributes, the resources you offer should match the stage you’ve reached in your relationship. Aimee likens this process to dating.

  • Awareness

This is the gateway to future interactions. You’ll offer helpful resources such as blogs, reports, eBooks or webinars. In exchange, you’ll ask for information that will allow the two of you to get to know each other better. Response forms should request data that will trigger your ability to provide increasingly relevant content. Questions could concern demographics, socio/economic information or professional interests.

  • Consideration—Now you can create even more meaningful interactions using member specific content such as white papers, case studies, quizzes and videos. You might also be able to identify people who aren’t a good fit for this campaign and trim them from the list.

  • Decision—You’re ready to pop the question. Offering coupons, discount codes or free services, can help you get to yes.

Prepare to Launch

With the important questions answered, you’re set to put your software to the test.


Following are the steps that bring it all together:

  • Foundational—create forms and emails, develop criteria for campaign tracking and lead qualification

  • Lead Magnet—create enticing content to capture leads, identify distribution channels and drop lead magnet content

  • Workflow—upload other assets, make workflows active and test (more than once).

Identify What Spells Success

In a traditional campaign, you might rely on the number of clicks, opens and conversions to analyze results. Marketing automation provides a richer and more detailed picture at any point in time. From leads to engagement and conversations, you can, and should, track all your interactions with your audience across multiple channels. Email, social media, web and even paid advertising can be consolidated and reported on from one platform.

Building a successful campaign is a complex process. If you’re a seasoned marketer you’ve undoubtedly had experience managing the many steps without marketing automation. But it’s worthwhile to consider how much more power, insight and efficiency you could gain from a technological assist.      

Don’t miss .orgCommunity’s next 30 on Thursday webinar on March 14, Using Data for Action, Not Just Insight.

Learn from more great speakers like Aimee at .orgCommunity’s signature event the Leading Innovation Summit on February 28.

Contact Aimee at:


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Solutions Day Speakers Chart Paths to Success in Uncertain Times

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 31, 2019


Presenters who illuminated the future. Industry partners who are inventing tomorrow.

And, the best and brightest colleagues in the association community—that was Solutions Day.

.orgCommunity’s year is book-ended by two signature events. The wrap party for Solutions Day is over. But before we roll up our sleeves for the Innovation Summit (February 28, 2019), we’re taking a moment to recap the exhilaration of a great learning experience.

When I needed help with the Solutions Day launch video, I turned to the techie I can always count on to get me up-to-speed in a hurry—my twelve-year-old. Watching my kids dive fearlessly into the deep end of technology is always an inspiration. Their enthusiasm is one of my big motivators. It challenges me to think differently about association management and keeps me eager to investigate new ideas that can revolutionize our industry. .orgSource has been helping associations through our consulting work for over a decade. About four years ago we realized that we could have a greater impact. That idea was the seed that grew .orgCommunity, Solutions Day and now .orgCompanies.

Being a nonprofit executive was one of my early ambitions. What I didn’t know was that along the way I would also become an entrepreneur. This didn’t happen because I founded a company. The company was the result of seeing myself in a new perspective. I started searching for opportunities, believing in my ability to create change and discovering that making a difference is an addictive experience. Anyone can develop this entrepreneurial mindset. We all have the capacity to dream big, be curious and solve problems. This is what drives .orgCommunity, and it is the spirit of Solutions Day.

Innovation Awards

A highlight of the event was recognizing the special people and teams for whom entrepreneurship means doing business as usual. If anyone thinks that associations aren’t amazing, the Innovation Awards are proof that creativity is thriving in our community. This was a tough contest. Winners had to introduce a product or service that advances a cause, grows revenue, boosts engagement, increases efficiency and decreases costs. The following companies met that high bar:

  • The American Association of Diabetes Educators for the DANA website—the online destination for all things related to diabetes technology

  • The American Society of Anesthesiologists for Anesthesia SimStat—high-fidelity simulation education in a 3D virtual online environment.

  • Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research for Swimming with the Sharks: How Anesthesiologist Inventors Can Move Their Ideas Forward—a session, modeled on the TV show Shark Tank, designed to help entrepreneurs gain support from venture capitalists

  • Ohio Credit Union League for an online review site

Outstanding Nonprofit Leaders Awards

Our goal for Solutions Day is to inspire association executives to work with creativity and passion. We don’t just want to offer what’s best practice today, we want to showcase the strategies and tools that you’ll need for tomorrow. If you asked me to name the thing that’s added the most value to my professional life, I would point to my many colleagues and friends. I have a network that includes mentors I can call on for guidance, experts to inform me on a myriad of topics and advisors to talk me through challenging problems. You can’t put a price on that amazing resource. The three outstanding executives who were recognized for the leadership awards exemplify our brand of collegiality and expertise. It was a pleasure to honor:


  • Rupa Brosseau, Director, Foundation for Anesthesia Research

  • Stephanie Mercado, CAE, CEO and Executive Director, National Association for Healthcare Quality

  • Robert Vitas, PhD, CFRE, CAE, Executive Director, American Academy of Periodontology Foundation

Celebrating Associations Award

We also presented the Celebrating Associations Award to the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research for its philanthropic impact.

This year’s speakers addressed many of the issues that Kevin and I highlight in our new book, Association 4.0--Positioning for Success in an Era of Disruption. Tom Morrison, CEO at the Metal Treating Institute kicked the day off with his presentation Unending Uncertainty--Seizing Opportunity in a World of the Unexpected. Tom reminded us that members support an association’s mission, but they buy its value. He provided great advice for building the concrete benefits that drive member engagement. He cautioned that it’s difficult to plan for an unpredictable future. Success requires a proactive strategy. Leaders must Identify where they want to go, and set the course to get there.  

Tracy King, Founder and Chief Learning Strategist at InspirED, is reinventing how associations think about and deliver continuing education. She described disruptions that are already changing the industry. Instead of letting these roadblocks turn your programs upside down, Tracy advised on how to navigate change and thrive.

Thad Lurie, Vice President Business Intelligence and Performance at Experient, capped off the event with a fascinating discussion on the practical and psychological impact of big data. He talked about building context behind the numbers and using the facts to sell new products or initiatives to naysayers.

This is a snapshot of a very full program. I’m going to use future posts to get to the meat of the important messages we heard. The leaders who will be successful in uncertain times are those who can integrate strategies for dealing with risk and change into their culture. Whether you head the organization or play on one of its teams, I hope that you found the inspiration at Solutions Day to discover a new vision for your work and your association. .orgCommunity’s goal is to motivate you to reinvent your reality, blaze a different trail, create something that didn’t exist before, and to make the leap to Association 4.0.

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“The Beach Was too Sandy”—Happy Members Are a Nonnegotiable

Posted By Sherry Budziak, CEO and Founder of .orgSource, Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018

I’ve been thinking, writing and talking a lot about Association 4.0. That’s how I describe best practices in a game-changing time for the association community and across the business world. Technology is driving the most visible disruption. So, it’s easy to forget that the new online community or e-learning platform you just launched is not going to make or break your success. But the members who use those systems will.

Dr. Karen Bartuch’s recent presentation at .orgCommunity’s Solutions Day event, Making the Unreasonable Happen: The Art of Customer Service in a 24-Hour World, was a great reminder of the need to put our members first. No matter how we expand membership models or revamp publications, our customers need to be top of mind. Bartuch is director of strategy and research at Sandstorm Design. She is an evidence-based creator, innovator and marketer with 17 years of experience in the public and private sector. As a former academic, Dr. Bartuch’s Ph.D. dissertation analyzed scientific concepts underlying successful strategies for marketing, growth, sales and innovation. Statistics are this researcher’s chocolate, and she shared some interesting numbers with the group.

Give Great Experience

“The beach was too sandy”— comments like that gem, posted on Travelocity, should roll off a customer service professional’s back. The need to keep members smiling is eternal. But, not much else in the realm of satisfying our constituents remains the same as it was even several years ago.

Electronics have brought companies closer to consumers than at any other time in history. The good news is that this new coziness means we can be amazing and dazzle with on-demand service at a highly customized level. The challenge is meeting those lofty expectations. Once the unhappy sunbather, surrounded by too much sand posted her review, it was already too late. Bartuch reports that you can expect that picky vacationer to tell nine other people about the unpleasantly gritty conditions.

Customer service is typically perceived as a one-time, reactive event—especially in the association world. Organizations need to expand their focus to encompass customer experience. Being mindful of how a member is treated when they have a question or a problem, isn’t enough. Members are judging you based on their overall assessment of the organization and its orientation to their well-being. Research, Bartuch notes, demonstrates that two-thirds of a company’s success in the market is based on the experience that it provides to customers. Members seek fulfillment across these five dimensions:

  • Tangibles—everything that can be touched and felt, from the office space to marketing materials and the website

  • Reliability—dependability and accuracy at providing service

  • Responsiveness—willingness to deliver promptly on requests   

  • Assurance—the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust

  • Empathy—caring individualized attention

Strive to Delight

Bartuch cautions that a satisfactory rating on this spectrum is not good enough. To improve member retention and hone competitive advantage associations must strive to delight. Eighty-six percent of consumers say that they would be willing to pay for better service, but only 1 percent feel that vendors meet their expectations. Here is a comforting statistic, if you can convince Ms. Sunshine that you’re willing to do what it takes to keep the sand at bay, she is likely to tell five other people about the great service and will probably become a loyal return customer to your beach.

Bartuch highlights the following trending strategies as paths to feeling the member love:


Online chat is an easy, quick and unobtrusive way to share information and resolve problems. It has the advantage of being low-key and conversational yet efficient. Customer satisfaction ratings rank chat as the preferred method of support. Millennials are especially comfortable with this type of interaction. Better still, chat offers an opportunity to drive sales. Statistics indicate that 6.5 percent of customers who interact on chat go on to make a purchase. That’s higher than the typical conversion rate of 3 percent. While artificial intelligence is getting plenty of hype, Bartuch cautions that the human touch is important here. She notes that Gartner, one of the world’s leading research and advisory companies, predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of customer-brand relationships will be managed without human interaction. That is probably an optimistic outlook for associations. The AI options that are available to smaller organizations aren’t smart enough yet to respond appropriately to complex questions. For associations that would like to experiment with chat, she suggests operating with live agents for limited hours.

Social media

Social media is an opportunity for members to engage with you on different service levels. Sixty-three percent of customers expect support on social media, and 35 percent prefer social options over other platforms. If you’re not providing this support, Facebook is a good way to jump in. It’s a perfect platform for responding with a personal touch to comments and suggestions. You can address technical or account related questions, complaints from dissatisfied users, urgent service or product requests and potentially challenging public relations issues.


Most people want to DIY before resorting to a phone call. Google, the self-help genie, can provide your members with the answers they are looking for. In order to work that magic, your site should be stocked with plenty of “How To” articles, robust content and video, and all resources should be optimized for quick searchability.


You can’t serve your customers without understanding them. If you don’t already have a data strategy in place, commit to developing a plan today. Use any and all the tools of the trade—qualitative methods such as interviews and focus groups and quantitative paths such as surveys, observation and data that you mine from your AMS. The point is that you should be collecting and analyzing with a goal of improved service and decisions. Gathering the right data also helps with continuous quality improvement.

Gartner also predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of all data analytics projects will relate to some aspect of customer experience. Bartuch believes this prediction is on the money. So, keep your eye on that sunbather and make sure that the sand is exactly as white and smooth as she wants it to be.

See the video of Dr. Bartuch's presentation here.

To hear more great speakers like Dr. Karen Bartuch, attend .orgCommunity’s Innovation Summit, Thursday, February 28, 2019 at The Rose Hotel, a contemporary new addition to the Rosemont, IL hospitality scene. Learn more about the Innovation Summit here.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, March 9, 2018

Finding harmony in the throes of meeting planning

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planner’s Triangle.

Meeting/event planning is ranked fifth in a list of ten Most Stressful Jobs of 2017. Dana’s Meeting Minutes is focusing on the one who manages the meetings—you.

Harmony as meeting planners is difficult to achieve, especially when we are in a state of sustained stress or live in a cycle of high stress/lull/high stress/lull.

To find harmony, look at yourself as a panorama to see where you’re out of balance. The Wheel of Life, which has existed in numerous forms for thousands of years, is a tool that can help you identify where you could make modifications when life is out of balance. Check out the links below for details.



Tip #1

A harmonious you = a better planner
• If nothing else, look at a Wheel of Life chart and consider where you may be out of balance.
• Take more time to compete a Wheel of Life exercise. (See resources, below.)

Tip #2
Upgrade by inviting another planner(s) to do it with you
• This fulfills our goals to evolve, share, and collaborate
• No need to reveal personal information; simply share the journey
• Challenge each other to restore balance one area at a time

Tip #3
Increase the value of your meeting for each person
• Incorporate the Wheel of Life concept in your meeting so participants can enjoy personal growth
• This could be a short breakout session or a pre/post-meeting add-on that leads participants on a deep dive
• If neither is possible, add things that reflect the Wheel of Life—contribution = CSR event; recreation = easy group play or exercise; health = eliminate processed foods from all menus; etc.

Apply the Wheel of Life concept to your event
Consider evaluating your meetings based on a Wheel of Life for meetings. We plan meetings so people, associations, and industries can become more valuable. After evaluating each area take a panoramic view of the meeting to determine its value as a whole.

This is my adaptation of the Wheel of Life based on my Meeting Planning Triangle. Consider it the Meeting Wheel of Life; a way to evaluate meeting harmony.



How Are You Faring In Your Life Now? The Life Wheel, by Celestine Chua, Conscious Living
Wheel of Life by ToolsHero

How the Wheel of Life Can Help Find Balance by William Anderson


Information disclaimer: WANT MORE? references do not imply an endorsement for any company, product, or service.

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, planned meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She now partners with associations to think creatively, differently, and boldly about their meetings and boards of directors. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, February 9, 2018
Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018

An upgrade that’s better than the Club King

Last year I introduced Dana’s Meeting Minutes, sharing Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners to make your job easier, impress your stakeholders, and/or make your participants say, “I love that!”

Prompted by CareerCast’s ranking event planning #5 in its Most Stressful Jobs of 2017 list, this year’s Meeting Minutes will focus on the one who manages the meetings—you.

A recent experience reminded me how stressful meeting planning is. Out of love for a friend, I helped plan an awards gala. I got into the logistics which I haven’t done for a couple of years. In the throes of it I whined, “this is why I quit planning!” At the end, I realized that for the 30 years prior I must have been in a state of suspended stress, endlessly on high alert while juggling balls, planning how to juggle the balls, or assessing how the balls were juggled.

I still love meeting planning and am grateful for falling into a profession (at age 24!) that fits me like a glove. I have had a charmed career and I want to share what I can to ensure planners love their jobs, without burning out. (Been there, done that.)

Each month I will explore ways that you, and therefore your meetings, are continuously improving; that you’re upgrading, aiming for the Presidential Suite! My One Awesome Idea will be a challenge for you to work on until the next blog.

By the way, based on my original Meeting Planning Triangle, I devised the Meeting Planner’s Triangle, you may find helpful and which I will base my content on. I invite your input about this topic, especially if you have suggestions for improvement.

THREE TIPS (to start you thinking)

Tip #1

How are you…

·         Are you well?

·         Are you enthusiastic?

·         Do you have support?

Tip #2

Are you upgrading…

·         How are you evolving?

·         How are you sharing?

·         How are you collaborating?

Tip #3

Are your meetings…

·         Valuable?

·         Engaging?

·         Compelling?



Rest may seem a waste of time, but it’s proven to play a critical role in brain health, including allowing you to absorb what you’ve just learned, as well as sustain creative thinking.

Rest can be anything from pushing back from your desk for a few moments or taking a long walk. The point is to simply stop.

Challenge: Plan ways to incorporate rest into each day.


Most Stressful Jobs of 2017 by CareerCast.

Deliberate Rest: A blog about getting more done by working less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of the book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less

A review of Rest—Arianna Huffington on a Book About Working Less, Resting More from The New York Times Book Review.



Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, planned meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She now partners with associations to think creatively, differently, and boldly about their meetings and boards of directors. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website.


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Strategy + Innovation - Watchwords for 2018

Posted By Sherry Budziak, CEO and Founder of .orgSource, Friday, January 12, 2018
Updated: Monday, January 8, 2018

As we start the new year, we all are inundated by predictions for the future. At .orgSource, we all have been thinking a lot about the future. Later this year we will be publishing a book on "Association 4.0." Many of you may have heard Kevin and I speak about disruptors looming on the horizon and how associations will need to undertake some fundamental changes. For 2018, we think there are two words that should define the focus of associations: strategy and innovation. 


We are not suggesting dusting off your strategic plan or engaging in the same old periodic planning retreat processes so common among associations. Instead, we are suggesting ongoing, mindful strategic thinking throughout the organization. Organizations need to be asking questions such as: why do we exist; who do we serve; what’s important; how can we best deliver what’s important; what should we be investing in; with whom do we partner; what are the risks we face; how do we ameliorate those risks—and are we really adding value? 

For each of those questions, there is a response for today—the current situation—and for tomorrow—an unknowable future. And since the future is unknowable, the best we can do is anticipate a variety of scenarios and invest in the building blocks—the people, structures, processes, and systems—to increase our flexibility and odds of success across a range of future possibilities. 


This leads to our second watchword for 2018: innovation. We have all heard of organizations that pride themselves on never being first, instead focusing on efficiently copying the leader. But how far behind can you avoid lagging? Given the speed of change and the rapid disseminating of new ideas and technologies, those who wait too long will never catch up. As a result, there needs to be a greater focus on innovations—and an associated willingness to take risks. 

A core focus of many associations is the delivery of educational content. Many are still relying on tried and true models such as the annual meeting or the PowerPoint-driven webinar (usually with zero or very limited interactivity). In the face of an exploding number of options and delivery modalities, how long can we expect to succeed without embracing radical innovation?  

For example, I was recently reading about Michigan State University’s use of robots in online instruction. To engage the robot from home, learners download free software onto their computer. The robots are stationed around a class setting. Each robot has a mounted video screen controlled by the remote user that lets the student pan around the room to see and talk with the instructor and fellow students participating in-person. According to Christine Greenhow, associate professor at Michigan State University, “Students participating with the robots felt much more engaged and interactive with the instructor and their classmates." This is just one example of how technology will be changing learning environments.  

We may not be investing in robot systems soon, but the MSU example serves as one reminder that we can never lose sight of the need to innovate. 

So, as we enter 2018, we wish all our association friends a successful year based on strategy and innovation. We are committed to our own efforts at strategy and innovation, as well as to helping our clients position themselves for a challenging and exciting future. 

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