Following Up

One of the most valued breakout sessions of the entire 2011 NASMM Conference was a session called “The Power of Follow-up.” Our lively, animated speaker, Judy Garmaise, was almost “in your face” about how businesses – both large and small – leave money on the table every day because we just don’t follow up. NASMM Conference attendees loved it: New senior move managers wanted to hear it and veteran SMMs needed to hear it again. I guess this is my way of saying I am following up with you. My last blog post pleaded for patience while we tied up post-conference loose ends, and I promised a re-cap of the Annual Conference.

Here goes:

The 2011 Conference was unquestionably the biggest NASMM Conference to date, with 340 attendees and 27 exhibitors. But was it the best?

This year marks the first time we have truly gone to an almost paperless association because we moved our speaker and session evaluations to a web-based platform. Since they have returned from the conference in FL early last week, over 150 attendees have logged on and evaluated each of the sessions (anonymously, of course) and the entire conference overall. (Great follow-up, I must say!)

The evals are pouring in with such positive feedback that Jennifer and I alternate between joy that we really hit the mark this year, and sheer terror as we try to achieve this same level of satisfaction again next year. Fortunately, we both enjoy a good challenge . . .

Why was this conference the best NASMM Conference ever? I wish I could say it was the locale – Florida in January is a sure bet, right?  Though we were blanketed by gorgeous Florida sunshine throughout the entire four days, it was a wee bit chilly at 58-63 degrees most days. Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, Philly and New York were battling single digit temps, so no one minded the sweaters and light jackets during their walks on the beach.

Perhaps it was the outstanding customer service exhibited by the entire staff at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach. Talk about follow-up! This crew could teach an entire course on it! We called only once for more chairs in the Long Key room, requested more water just once during the General Session, asked for help one time with our audio/visual equipment, and our requests were filled, fixed or served. Here’s a big shout out to Margarita, Rob, Joyelle, Dave, and Karleen for providing us with a five-star customer service experience at the TradeWinds.

The 30+ speakers were compelling, insightful, and informative; the food was plentiful and delicious; and the hotel staff was beyond gracious and accommodating. What really made this conference worth the effort and expense, however, was something we actually brought to Florida: NASMM itself. Our members are truly some of the most engaging and welcoming people you will find anywhere. Our Buddy Program, which pairs past conference attendees with first timers, is just one example of how our members reach out to each other.

Senior move management is a new and evolving profession, and the only real experts are our own experienced members. Sure, they could bottle up their expertise and save it for themselves, or . . . they could nurture NASMM’s newest members and become leaders in the field. We are a better organization because our members have chosen to do what you might expect of those in a “helping profession.”

NASMM members were conference speakers, session moderators, Buddies, and more. It was the many conversations in the buffet line, at the bar, and on the plump sofas outside the session rooms where the conference really cranked into high-gear. The energy and excitement were palpable. The connectivity was truly electric. In fact, many Buddies have already “followed up” with each other since they left Florida, and will keep in contact throughout the year. Some individuals chose not be a formal Buddy and connected with people in their own way. It’s all good. It’s an association in action.

This conference was the best conference yet because NASMM came together in a fresh and inspiring way. Let the silver tsunami begin (2011 is the year the oldest Boomers turn 65) because NASMM’s 570+ members are ready!

Please mark your calendars now for the 2012 NASMM Conference: January 12-15, 2012 in awesome Austin, TX at the Hyatt Austin. But don’t worry, we’ll be sure to follow up with you over the next year as the conference details unfold.

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