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My First AIHce EXP

​By Larry Sloan

Seattle marked my first AIHce EXP conference since I joined AIHA last fall. I had been hearing so much about this hallmark event, and I will tell you that I’m just glad it didn’t fall on my first month on the job! In all seriousness, I had the pleasure of connecting with literally thousands of new folks who clearly are passionate and dedicated to the profession. 

Our attendee base spanned four generations, with early-career professionals clearly embracing the format and flow of the conference, but, unfortunately, conference veterans displeased with some of the changes. As a result, we realize the challenge facing us as we adjust program elements for 2018. After all, we are striving to appeal to all facets of the membership.

At the end of the day, here are some takeaways I am pleased to report:

  • Our total number of unique registrants was about on par with last year. However, if one looks at our total number of paid registrants (that is, accounting for individuals who purchased multiple PDCs), we are well above last year by 12 percent. 
  • Almost one-quarter of all new conference registrants were obtained through new marketing efforts. 
  • Nearly all our PDCs were sold out, reinforcing our belief that we are offering valuable courses important to you in your daily work.
  • We continue to attract a strong showing by exhibitors, who reported brisk traffic on the show floor.
  • 95 student posters were submitted, compared to 40 last year.  The review and selection of student poster awards by technical committees was conducted online in the days leading up to AIHce, making for a much smoother process.
  • In terms of social media engagement (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), we saw a whopping 370 percent increase in social media engagement before and during conference, and a 530 percent increase post-conference.

In the end, it is what you told us in the evaluations immediately following AIHce EXP 2017 that really counts:

  • “The events I went to had some key points from which to learn. These were more cutting edge and something you wouldn't find easily from another source. For example the information on allergen sampling is not generally available.”
  • “Several of the presentations were enlightening and provided a potential path for more engagement in the IH field (banding, EPA OELs).”
  • “AIHce is always a great place to see colleagues you haven't seen in a long time and to meet new and interesting people.”
  • “The best part of AIHce is the contact with other industrial hygienists from different employers, with different expertise and different tenures in the field.”

As I noted above, not all the feedback we received was favorable. There was quite a bit of criticism from folks who felt the shortened program and uniformly formatted sessions didn’t afford them an opportunity to engage and learn like they have in the past.

Some things we plan to reassess next year pertain to how we promote the sessions (with clearer descriptions to help attendees gauge whether the content is appropriate for them). We will also re-examine the number of maximum credit hours available at the event, and how we might improve the social events at AIHce.

Four out of 5 of our attendees tell us they would promote AIHce EXP again in the future. Repeatedly, survey respondents affirm that word of mouth is the #1 reason they registered. 

And for those of you who are veteran attendees, here’s a challenge for you: Tell us how your career has benefitted from attending AIHce. Your stories will help us attract a whole new cadre of professionals, and you’ll be giving back to the Association that’s helped you​ advance.

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.​


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