ASAE’s Xperience Design Project Offers Detailed Insight to Create Impactful, Accessible, and Relevant Events

ASAE hosted its Xperience Design Project (XDP), April 11-12, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. The two-day event drew a total of 1,654 professionals and industry partners representing 628 organizations, from 40 states, and eight countries. They surrounded themselves with new ways of thinking, uncovered actionable opportunities, and tackled the most important issues facing the meetings industry today.

As we planned for the third year of XDP, we challenged ourselves to look at the event through a new lens, said John H. Graham, IV, FASAE, CAE, President and CEO of ASAE. Through knowledge based on feedback from the community we not only made changes to the learning formats and meeting setting, but also to the pricing structure for the event with the overall goal to provide the most value to association professionals and industry partners.

The new event pricing structure was announced during the 2018 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition in Chicago. Annual Meeting attendees were given the opportunity to register for XDP onsite in Chicago for free, and then only pay what they felt the event was worth after attending.

During the Lab, attendees were led by XDP host and keynote speaker Dan Klein. Klein teaches improvisation at Stanford University where he is a Lecturer in the Graduate School of Business and the Department of Theater and Performance Studies. Other keynote speakers included Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing; Alton White, singer, dancer, actor, and Broadway star; and Dr. Natalie Nixon, President and Founder of Figure 8 Thinking, LLC, and University of Pennsylvania lecturer.

On Thursday, Stratten kicked off the event with a fast paced and comical keynote that illustrated to co-creators that marketing never stops, and that each interaction members have with your association can impact how they view the overall brand. White followed with a keynote that included his skills as a singer and insightful commentary that encouraged attendees to be flexible when faced with challenges and be open to the possibility of great things.

Day two began with Dr. Natalie Nixon sharing her research on why creativity is an essential component for success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Host Dan Klein took the stage to share a keynote on incorporating elements of improvisation to create connection.

In addition to the four keynote speakers, co-creators could select from seven Idea Accelerators over the two-day event. Zones were used to categorize the learning focus into three areas: experience, community, and strategy.

Xperience Accelerators offered deeper dives into specific methods, approaches, and ideas. This included a behind the scenes look at how an event like XDP comes together, and a breakdown of how any association, no matter the size, or the budget, can incorporate aspects of XDP into their future events.

On both days, participants took part in the Business Exchange. Unlike past years, appointments were not required, and co-creators were encouraged to wander the Business Exchange and interact with partners, some of which were hosting fun activities, and food around the room. Within the space co-creators could also listen to strategic partners share some of their most closely held trade secrets on the Idea Xchange stage.

ASAE closed the event with the new FriYay Experience where Nina West, from RuPauls Drag Race season 11, delivered an inspiring musical performance for co-creators to leave the event on a high note.

Next year’s date is May 19-20, 2020.

ASAE thanks the following Alliance Partners for their continued support of the association community:

Strategic Partners Atlanta CVB Business Events Canada Choose Chicago Experience Columbus Community Brands Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB Naylor Association Solutions Discover Puerto Rico

Corporate Partners Visit Austin Visit Baltimore Caesars Entertainment Destination Cleveland DelCor Technology Solutions Visit Dallas Fonteva GEICO Louisville CVB Visit Omaha Visit Salt Lake Travel Portland Visit San Jose

Event Partners IMIS by Advanced Solutions International The Broadmoor CliftonLarsonAllen Experient Higher Logic Manifest MemberClicks OpenWater Discover the Palm Beaches

About ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership

ASAE is a membership organization of more than 44,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Its members lead, manage, and work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines, from executive management to finance to technology. Together, they create a vibrant community that makes the world smarter, safer, and better every day. With support of the ASAE Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge, and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession and provides resources, education, ideas, and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. Visit ASAE at

Lauren Precker, CAE, [email protected],