A couple of weeks ago, I attended Non Dues-A-Palooza, a conference about generating non dues revenue hosted by 100 Reviews. The event had about 125 attendees and was held at City Winery in Nashville, TN. I’ve been attending conferences since the Fall of 2021, so this wasn’t my first foray back to in person conferences. I’ve attended large and small conferences around the country. Here’s what I loved about Non Dues-A-Palooza.
- The scale of the meeting wasn’t threatening. With 125 people, the meeting felt intimate and very manageable. I’ve spoken with people who say they are still nervous about attending conferences with thousands of people and I get it. Every time I get on a plane or attend a gathering with a large number of people, I’m taking calculated risks.
- The venue was lovely. City Winery is a winery, tasting room, restaurant, and music hall. Its wood interior was warm, the music hall was a terrific space for the presentations, and the upstairs gallery was wonderful for the end of day gathering. The venue was a welcome change from the cavernous, stark and cold convention centers of large conferences.
- It felt like I could really meet people. All the sessions took place in one room, with breaks and lunch in the next room. It was easy to bump into people. There was even a cute networking gimmick where attendees picked up goodies from a basket. But instead of keeping the goodies for ourselves, we were tasked with gifting the goodie to the person named on the goodie. It was awesome when Mary Baehr approached me and gave me a purple stress ball! Awesome networking idea!
- United for a common purpose. Teri Carden, the Non Dues-A-Palooza organizer, specifically eschewed colors or ribbons that marked attendees as association execs or consultants or (the dreaded) vendors (or industry partners, as some like to call us). The conference organizers took great pains to announce that everyone attending NDAP was there to talk about non-dues revenue.
- The event felt one of a kind. Because Non Dues-A-Palooza is held in a different place each year AND the format is transformed each time, the event felt fresh AND I’m excited to see what next year will look like. The FOMO is strong when it comes to this event!
If your organization holds small scale conferences, take a page (or two!) from the Non Dues-A-Palooza playbook. Create something unique, make it intimate, create ample opportunities for really connecting with other attendees, and have amazing content.