Changes Ahead: Talking AIHce EXP 2020 With Bethany Chirico
In her February column in The Synergist, AIHA President Kathy Murphy wrote about some of the new changes that AIHce EXP attendees can expect at the upcoming conference in Atlanta. We talked with Bethany Chirico, AIHA's Managing Director of Global Meetings and Business Development, about the process that led to these changes.
Here’s what she had to say.
You were very much involved in the process that brought about these revamps. What pushed AIHA to refresh the conference?
AIHce EXP has long been regarded as the premiere global conference for OEHS education, networking, solution-finding, and information exchange. To keep pace with the profession’s evolution, the conference, too, must evolve. We use attendee feedback from each conference to assess which aspects of the conference worked well and should be continued or enhanced, as well as those where we may need to improve or reconfigure, and we make changes as necessary. That feedback is what prompted the major adjustments to the schedule and format of the 2017 AIHce in Seattle. In 2019, we hired Maritz Global Events, Inc., one of the largest, most respected leaders in the meetings and events industry, to help us reimagine AIHce EXP using a people-centered, science-based design approach. The approach included an insight study (a pre-AIHce 2019 survey), an on-site pulse assessment at AIHce EXP 2019 in Minneapolis, and a two-day design session with AIHA staff and AIHce EXP attendees. The outcome of the Design Lab offered direction, guidance, and inspiration to the AIHA team about how to make the conference experience personal for every attendee. For instance, during registration, attendees are asked to self-identify with several phrases about who they are as a person and as an attendee. We will use those responses to make suggestions on which sessions, exhibitors, and other attendees might be most suited to an attendee’s goals.
How are these changes expected to improve the experience of AIHce EXP attendees?
AIHce EXP attendees have myriad choices in activities during the conference: from education sessions, the Expo Hall, committee or volunteer group meetings, pop-up education, health and wellness activities, sunset education, and, of course, the ongoing tasks associated with their day jobs. Ultimately, we know that each attendee is looking for the options that most closely meet their specific needs and interests. Our hope is to try to tailor everyone’s conference experience to their desired outcomes. If we can help each person connect with one speaker in one session, or one exhibitor with one product, or one attendee with whom they can exchange ideas, we are helping create a healthier world.
In her column, the AIHA President talks about matching people by persona, or behavior. How does this help the AIHce attendees? What does AIHA hope to achieve with these changes?
Personas help identify groups of people that share the same attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. They are not based on demographics; rather, they are identified and developed using observation, tacit knowledge, research, and interviews. Several questions in the registration process help us identify these groups and tailor the conference information we provide to meet their specific needs. For instance, “The Seeker” persona is for individuals who are new to AIHce or the profession. They are excited about attending but also unsure – and perhaps a bit intimidated by – how to make the most of it. The information and approach we offer them is very different from what we offer to “The Advocate” persona, our tenured professionals with decades of AIHce experience and comfort in sharing. Both are important and valued at AIHce, but each has a different reason and goal for participating. Our end goal is to make everyone feel that this conference is tailored to them specifically.
AIHce EXP 2020 will be held in Atlanta, Ga., June 1-3, with PDCs on May 30-31 and June 4.