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Welcome Back, In-Person Conferences – We’ve Missed You

After two years of canceled or virtual conferences, the in-person conference is back and I couldn’t be happier!

I love attending, sponsoring, exhibiting, and presenting at higher education conferences. Especially those focused on enrollment, admission, marketing, and the campus visit. Friends, families and even co-workers chuckle at the ease and fluency at which I pronounce the associations’ acronyms like a second language or nomenclature. “I’m headed to Houston for nack-ack” “Did we register for sieve-sah?” “I’m presenting at sack-ack with three clients.”

In the past two decades I’ve lost count of the number of conferences I’ve attended and participated in but in my “Conferences” email folder I’ve 89 subfolders for associations and their related conferences.

Virtual conferences did not fully connect for me, did they for you?

I participated in many virtual conferences over the last two years and some of them were pretty engaging, but overall they lacked humanity and human connection. Anthropologically speaking, we want to gather and be with our people. Virtual conferences don’t have the serendipitous crossing of paths with a colleague or friend. They don’t have the shared energy of being in a great session with good content and lively discussion. And they don’t have the hallway discussions and moments after sessions where we gather and connect. Virtual conferences just don’t deliver the same way in-person conferences do.

NACAC, AMA, SACAC, CIVSA. NACCAP, and others, all provide an opportunity to network, to promote the brand I’m representing, present on the campus visit or on generational education sessions, and develop new business opportunities. But the real reason I love conferences is being in-person, talking face-to-face, having meals and drinks together, and most of all, giving and getting hugs (in the pandemic I ask permission). Higher education has some of the smartest, most passionate, and committed professionals who happen to be some of the highest quality people around. As students say about why they chose and stay at their college or university, “it’s the community, the people.”

Say hello to and visit the exhibitors (you might learn something)

But higher education enrollment marketing is a business and conferences are about business. Along with registration fees, sponsors and exhibitors, like Echo Delta, help associations stage affordable and exceptional experiences. I always appreciate professionals who dedicate time to walk through the hall and learn about the exhibitors’ offerings. I’ll admit, some exhibitors can be a bit aggressive, but at Echo Delta we’re all about listening and having a conversation. Often I ask, “What did you learn at the sessions?” or “What’s your take-away from this conference?”

Similarly, some attendees can be aggressive in seeking specific solutions to the challenges on their campus. When attending educational sessions at conferences, I alway remind everyone that examples from one campus don’t always translate well and work on another campus. Approach educational sessions at a higher, theoretical level, and ask yourself how you can scale this big concept to your campus.

We’ve kicked-off conference season and hope to meet you

This year’s conference season began with Echo Delta exhibiting and sponsoring the President’s Reception at the SACAC conference, April 3-5, 2022, at Omni ChampionsGate resort near Walt Disney World. Severe weather across the south, and the host state, compounded with spring break travelers, created air travel nightmares. I was delayed two days returning home to Florida from a business trip, but landed just in time to arrive at the opening of the exhibits and presented about the pandemic’s impact on tour guides with clients from UAB, Florida Southern, and Furman. Being my first in-person conference since NACAC 2019, and my first conference as part of the Echo Delta team, I wasn’t going to miss out. I will admit that I was ready to hitchhike to make it to the SACAC conference.

Next month you’ll find me and my Echo Delta enrollment consulting colleagues at two conferences and if you’re in attendance at either, I hope you’ll come by and say hello.

May 24-26, is the “nack-cap” (NACCAP – National Association of Christian College Admissions Professionals) conference hosted by Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

Echo Delta is exhibiting and sponsoring the all-important conference lanyard! I’ve exhibited and presented at this conference numerous times when I was with TargetX and always found it forward thinking with great fellowship.

And, I’m excited to present this campus visit educational session:
Crafting a campus visit that connects with co-purchasing Gen X parents and Gen Z students
Wednesday, May 25
1:15pm in the Session 2 block

May 31-June 1, look for Echo Delta at the CIVSA (Collegiate Information & Visitor Services Association) conference hosted at the Caribe Royale Orlando.

Nearly one thousand campus visit professionals will be back in-person bringing with them lots of energy and great campus visit thinking. Echo Delta will be exhibiting and I’ll be there with our Senior Strategist, Laura Martin Fedich, ready to talk about your campus visit.

Swag is a highlight of any conference and Echo Delta’s creative team produces some of the best conference swag. Take-aways include clever enrollment-themed stickers, colorful pens, and industry legendary socks. If you’ll be at NACCAP and CIVSA we look forward to meeting you in-person, talking with you, (giving and receiving optional hugs), and gifting you some of the coolest conference swag in higher ed.

If you’re not attending but have colleagues who are, share this post with them and perhaps we will see you in-person at other upcoming 2022 conferences.

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Jeff is a nationally respected authority on campus visit experiences and student recruitment. He has worked with more than 300 college and university campuses across the country to create compelling visit experiences that align with strategic enrollment goals while also forging strong connections with students and their families.

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