Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Looking for Your Convention Guide? Look Online--Here's Why.

AIA East Bay staff recently contacted National AIA to find out when we'd receive our convention catalogs--members have been asking us as well. Here's the response:

Thanks for the questions related to AIA Convention. Yes, registration is open, and we are seeing a tremendous response by members who plan to attend in Boston. Allow me to apologize in advance for the length of
this reply, but the subject of member communications is very important to us. I want to let you know that there are a number of ways to announce: the printed Guide is no longer the primary vehicle for promoting the annual event. Because nearly all members register online, and sustainability is one of our key strategic goals, the following is an outline of the current marketing strategy.

The registration web site opened on December 14, 2007, . A postcard was mailed to every AIA member that week notifying registration is open. Following the holidays, beginning January 2, an email was sent to every AIA member address (that we are allowed to solicit), and to those that asked to receive an email notice with registration opening (a service posted on the convention web site prior to the opening date). At the same time the Guide was “dropped” in the mail. AIArchitect posted a story
on January 4 that convention registration is open, and the AIA website was modified to include a banner at the top of

The AIA continues to work to make the Convention more green, and, related to the printed Guide, have significantly reduced its distribution. As recently as five years ago the Guide was the primary promotion device. Today we print and mail far less (11% fewer than 2007, 27% fewer than in 2006) with more
focused, targeted outreach to members most likely to attend. Further, we reduced the number of pages about 20% by posting program descriptions and learning objectives on the Web site only. The Guide is printed on un-glossed recycled, FSC certified 100% post-consumer waste paper. And, new, the entire Guide is posted online in a user-friendly PDF format so there is no reason to print at all, simply review online in either the PDF or navigate the HTML version. So you are aware, in this effort to be more sustainable, the printing of the Guide is being reduced with a goal of eliminating it in the near term, to be replaced with a more robust web presence. A number of other green initiatives are underway, see a summary on the convention web site at this link

Each year we study the effectiveness of the Guide via surveys and track source codes of registrants. Being more strategic with the marketing effort, and more resource efficient, the web site has been improved (more comprehensive and easier to use) and the Guide replaced with other, smaller, pieces such as: emerging professional brochure, postcards, and broadcast emails -- all communicating specific messages and directing people to the web.

Regarding the question about ticket availability, members across the county have equal access to tour and event tickets. Communications were sent/posted equally to AIA members regardless of their geographical location – printed mailings are “dropped shipped” at multiple postal centers so the snail-mail distribution is equitable across the country. Each year the convention is growing and events are designed to hold more people – so more tickets are available for events and tours. We do, however, expect more members
to attend the Boston convention. It has been six years since the event was located on the east coast, and there are many architects within close proximity to the city. Further, Boston ranks as one of the top five destinations for members who attend convention, so we expect crowds at most every event. Fortunately, the new convention center, the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, is much larger than prior years. My recommendation is to encourage your members to register as earlier as possible because all tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis.

Thanks again for the feedback and taking the time to write, and let me know if you have any other questions.


For more information: Christopher J. Gribbs, Assoc. AIA Senior Director, Convention, The American Institute of Architects

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