Is all professional development doomed to poor ratings?
As vice-chair of the Marketing Section Council I am fortunate to be on the committee that helps guide the programming offered at the 2010 ASAE Annual Meeting. Anne Blouin, Director of Learning at ASAE, held a conference call last week for volunteer leaders like me and one of the things she said was that ASAE was getting dinged for with Annual was that the actual sessions did not reflect what was described in the Program Book. I have witnessed this same thing first hand when going over post-event surveys for the seminars I do with Kevin Whorton under the College of Association Marketing brand. I know we do our best to make sure that it is incredibly obvious what our programs will cover and have experienced that ASAE does its best to do the same.
Why is it that more and more meeting participants are saying that what they thought they had registered for is not what was delivered? Is the participant not paying attention to details of the marketing pieces? Is it the programming decreasing in quality? Is the marketing over-promising or inaccurate? Is it all of the above?
Personally, I am leaning toward a lack of time as the cause of the increase in dissatisfaction for participants. I think that as the economy worsened and staff rosters shrunk individuals were forced to take on additional responsibilities. Remaining staff members still understood the value of professional development activities but they no longer had the time to read all the details of promotional materials they received. They would therefore skim marketing pieces and notice one or two things that really resonated with them that caused them to register. Unfortunately the skimming of the marketing pieces also caused them to miss the true theme or focus of the entire offering so they end up being disappointed after they attend.
This issue is very important for the future of professional development as negative reactions impact all sides of any education program. Negative reactions impact the rate of repeat attendance, they impact the speaker ratings, they impact your positive word of mouth and, most importantly, they ultimately impact your bottom line. Do you have any thoughts about why this is happening? Do you have any solutions? If so, I think the community would benefit by hearing them.
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