Learning From the Ghosts of Election Seasons Past

electionOur tagline for GovEvents is "Where Government Gathers." In the wake of a contentious election and uncertainty around what the new administration will bring, gathering together is more critical than ever. The word "unprecedented" has been used repeatedly throughout the election and now the transition. Knowing that history has a way of repeating itself, we wanted to take a look too see if it is in fact unprecedented.

  • The election of 1800 - At this time the Electoral College worked differently than it does today. Each elector voted for two candidates. The one with the most votes became President, the second most votes became Vice President. The race seemed to be between Thomas Jefferson, Democratic Republican and President John Adams, a Federalist. But, when the votes were tallied Jefferson was tied with "running mate" Aaron Burr, another Democratic Republican. For the first of only two times in history, the election went to the House of Representatives. Jefferson was named the winner thanks in great part to the lobbying of Alexander Hamilton (ironically, given the current news the Broadway show bearing his name is making). Hamilton, a Federalist, preferred Jefferson over Burr who he said, "loves nothing but himself--thinks of nothing but his own aggrandizement." As a result of this election the 12th Amendment was added to the Constitution to specify that electors vote separately for the nation's two highest offices.

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Great Expectations: What Sponsors Want

expectWhat would happen if sponsors at tradeshows and conferences suddenly disappeared? Most likely there would be significantly fewer events, as there would not be enough money to pull most of them off. Much like our post that looked at events without a speaker, we likely won't see sponsor-less shows, but we may see sponsors playing a different role at events--becoming more of a participant and less of a funding source.

Part of this transition is in response to many organizations who are no longer content to hand over money just to receive a logo on a sign in return. They need (and deserve) tangible returns for their investment. This evolution is being driven by sponsor and exhibitor expectations but has an incredibly powerful impact on the attendee experience as well. Sponsors want to be more involved in events. This can mean including their executives and experts as speakers or being involved in the event planning process. It can also mean providing access to attendees beyond waving them over on the show floor. Sponsors are hoping to build relationships with attendees that extend beyond the show dates.

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Behind the Curtain: 2016 AMSUS Federal Health 2016

AMSUSIn this Behind the Curtain feature, we're taking a look at one of the longest running events for the federal market, the 2016 AMSUS Annual Federal Health Continuing Education Meeting. AMSUS, The Society for Federal Health Professionals, was founded in 1891 and formally chartered by an act of Congress in 1903 for the advancement of federal health. In the time that the Chicago Cubs were without a World Series title, AMSUS has continued to evolve through medical trends, wartime needs, and peacetime support. Their annual conference is a unique venue that brings together military health officers for in-depth education on the latest technologies, tools, and techniques.

This year's event is scheduled for November 29-December 2 at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort just outside of Washington, DC. The theme for 2016 is "Raising the Bar" and the Executive Director of AMSUS, VADM Mike Cowan, MC, USN (Ret.) took time to share some details about what attendees can expect at this year's event.

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The State of the States

stateWhile attention is rightfully focused on the national stage with the Presidential and Congressional elections, we wanted to take a moment to focus on the people in state and local government who keep our towns running. The work of state and local agencies has a huge impact on our day-to-day life. They are the people that issue our driver's license, police our streets, pick up our garbage, and give voice to the elderly and children through social work.

Across the country there are more than 12 million state and local government employees. This population is incredibly diverse with more than 5,000 different job classifications. While these numbers are large, state and local agencies are chronically understaffed and have become experts on doing a lot with very little.

This mixture of immediate and critical needs, with limited resources, has spawned some of the most innovative programs in our country:

  • Albany, NY - The city wanted to move unpaid traffic fines out of the system to reduce the administrative burden on staff that needed to continuously follow-up. The city instituted Food for Fines where people could donate to food banks to get their minor traffic fines taken off the books.
  • New York City -- Using data from 311 calls, officials could see and predict which areas of the city had tenant harassment issues and focus programs there.
  • Tigard, OR - Facing fast growth, this Portland suburb sped up the process for getting building and business permits by moving it all online.
  • Fairfax County, VA - Police increased transparency and made valuable community data available to the public by providing access to 911 calls through an open data portal.
  • North Carolina - Moving resources online for Veterans, the state reduced the backlog for military veterans seeking support from both state and federal agencies.

Even in support of federal activities like voting, states are investing in technologies that will make it easier for citizens to register to vote and cast absentee ballots. Continue reading

The Event House of Horrors

halloweenIn the spirit of Halloween we thought it might be fun to create our own haunted house of sorts. We started thinking about how the traditional elements of a haunted house could be applied to the event world. What would happen if we combined common mistakes and missteps into a single show?

  • Hall of Mirrors - Tradeshows can be overwhelming. Even attendees with the best laid plans can get sidetracked on the show floor. They can be confused by layout and/or distracted by competing audio and visual assets of exhibitors. Try to set a clear path through the show floor and plan booth layout so that two super loud or super visual companies are not set up right next to each other.
  • Cobwebs - Tradition can be heartwarming but when year after year you are "treating" attendees to the same thing it gets stale. Make sure you brush off the cobwebs. Look at attendee feedback and keep the elements of your show that are consistently praised and change up the elements that not only get negative feedback, but also those that never get mentioned at all.
  • Zombies - In the event world Zombies are people manning a booth that clearly have no knowledge of the product they are selling. They work off a script and take no interest in engaging in two-way conversation. Instead of mumbling, "brains....brains....I want brains" you can hear them asking, "leads.....leads...I need to meet my lead quota."
  • Trap Doors - Make sure session descriptions are accurate. You don't want attendees leaving a session or the event in general feeling like it was not what they expected. In a similar vein, make sure to clearly indicate which events are product-focused. Imagine an attendee looking forward to a session on "How to accelerate your move to cloud." They think there will be some best practices shared, actionable tips, etc., but instead it ends up being a sales pitch for a specific cloud service. At that point they may wish an actual trap door would appear to take them away.

We'd love to hear from you. What are some of the scariest situations you've found yourself in at events? Let us know in the comments.