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Association Forum's 27th Annual Holiday Showcase Kicks Off Centennial Celebration with New Program Components, Highlights Future Industry Trends

By Melissa Walling posted 07-02-2016 20:03

CHICAGO (Dec. 22, 2015)—Association Forum's Holiday Showcase®, which took place Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, is well-known as the Midwest's largest and most-attended exposition for meeting sites and business services. This year's event brought together more than 2,000 meeting planners, association professionals and supplier partners. It also served as a stage for the launch of Association Forum's Centennial Celebration as well as a new three-year strategic partnership agreement between Association Forum and Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. And in keeping with Association Forum's promise to "shake up" Holiday Showcase, the event featured a number of new program highlights.

The Holiday Showcase festivities kicked off Monday, Dec. 14, during a first-ever Opening Reception, generously sponsored by Destination Cleveland. Nearly 250 Holiday Showcase attendees and exhibitors attended the party at the Hyatt Regency Chicago's American Craft Kitchen & Bar to network and toast the season. DJ Taz provided a high-energy music backdrop while attendees enjoyed food and drinks—including a specialty Christmas Ale imported from Cleveland.

Tuesday morning marked the official start of Holiday Showcase 2015, which implemented several additional new and modified features into the event's format.

Designed specifically for association professionals serving health care-related industries, Medical Meetings: Health Care Game Changers—Trends Transforming the Industry brought together nearly 50 association executives in the medical field to hear from a high-caliber group of thought leaders. The session discussed challenges and opportunities in the future of health care.

Also new this year, the Keynote and Networking Brunch replaced the former Luncheon and drew more than 1,300, the highest attendance in the past three years. The event offered a full hour of uninterrupted networking and served as an opportunity to recognize the 2015 Forty Under 40® Award winners, as well as to celebrate the kickoff of Association Forum's Centennial Celebration. Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer of MGM Resorts International Michael Dominguez delivered a powerful keynote on the key disruptions in our industry and how to work around those challenges, plus the tremendous importance of having an open mind and being amenable to change.

"You're going to be insignificant in five years if you do not change," Dominguez said. "We're holding on to old traditions that don't make any difference."

The new brunch format left more time for attendees to explore the Exhibit Hall, which opened its doors with the unveiling of Association Forum's new logo and brand. The Exhibit Hall boasted almost 500 booths, as well as new What's Next is Now Learning Bursts, 15-minute high-impact, no-doze sessions delivered right on the show floor and focusing on killer concepts, lessons learned and insights straight from a few of the 2015 Forty Under 40 Award winners and a few special guests.

Returning this year were the popular CEOnly® Seminar: High Performing Associations, a half-day session facilitated by expert strategists; the Shared Interest Group Symposium, a series of smaller, topic-focused meetings for Association Forum members to connect with like-minded peers to network and share ideas on common interests; and more than 20 varied education sessions.

Association Forum once again partnered with Tourism Vancouver for a corporate social responsibility initiative. This year, a diaper drive was conducted under the title #VanGiving. Attendees brought in diapers and made cash donations to benefit The Cradle, an Illinois-based adoption agency. For organizations, a new corporate challenge contest was implemented, encouraging associations to conduct their own diaper drives as part of the #VanGiving program. AHIMA was named the winner for donating nearly 400 diapers as well as a crib.

The event concluded with the Holiday Showcase Closing Reception, sponsored by Destination Cleveland, and a much-anticipated prize drawing.

"Holiday Showcase is always a great time to celebrate the season, to wrap up the past year and to look forward to the future, but this year was extra special," says Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, Association Forum's president and CEO. "Celebrating 100 years, launching our new brand, new programs and new partners—it's an exciting time for Association Forum and for the industry. We're looking forward to doing things differently and delivering the best programs, resources and overall experience that our members want and need."

The 2015 Holiday Showcase was made possible by the generous contributions of its partners:

Strategic Partner:
Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau

Platinum Partners:
Choose Chicago
Global Experience Specialists
Grapevine Texas
Minding Your Business

Gold Partners:
Destination Cleveland
Tourism Vancouver
Visit Houston

Silver Partners:
Visit Indy
Visit Orlando
Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Johnson Lambert
Nashville Music City
Naylor Association Solutions

Bronze Partners:
Destination Reps
Visit Detroit
Niagara Falls Tourism
The Private Bank
Sonoma County Tourism

Event Partners:

Chuck Fazio's HeadShotLOUNGE
Convention News Television
Oscar & Associates
Power Tower
Real Magnet
SmithBucklin Promotional Products and Apparel

For more about Holiday Showcase 2015, enjoy the highlights video and review the program guide.

About the Association Forum

The mission of the Association Forum is to "advance the professional practice of association management." Founded in 1916, the Association Forum serves 47,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 37 million members and generate $22 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit