MAMES virtual event gains steam

Thirteen associations have signed on to join
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Friday, August 21, 2020

DULUTH, Minn. – With its annual events bringing in a “huge chunk” of revenues each year, MAMES has decided to go big with a virtual conference this fall. 

MAMES opened up its 2020 Midwest Conference & Exhibit Hall, scheduled for Oct. 6-9, to other associations and so far 13 covering at least 28 states have signed on. 

“If a state association wants to be part of it, we’ll give them a stipend for every one of their member companies that registers,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director of MAMES. “We’re all in this together. We’re all struggling, in the middle of a pandemic and in a place where we’ve never been before, to maintain our memberships and show our value.” 

The fall conference will feature online sessions, both live and recorded, spread out over four days, with rotating morning and afternoon sessions. There’s a single registration fee per company, with unlimited attendees. 

The conference will also feature a virtual exhibit hall, thanks to a “significant investment” by MAMES into a platform that will allow its vendor sponsors to have booths and chat with attendees. 

“It was a significant investment, but when we looked at what we spent on a face-to-face event vs. a virtual event and how it would satisfy vendors, we thought it was worth it,” Schafhauser said. 

NEMEP, ATHOMES and ACMESA are among the associations that have signed on to join the MAMES event. While some associations, like NEMEP, still plan to offer their own virtual education this fall, the virtual exhibit hall that MAMES is offering will be difficult for other associations to replicate, says Beth Bowen, who manages several associations. 

“Most associations can’t afford to jump into that themselves,” she said. “It’s no risk (to join the MAMES event) – it’s a win-win.”