The ARM industry conference schedule is heating up and we’re not even out of January yet. With the Polar Vortex in full effect on the East Coast once again, a little heat would be nice right about now.
For many of us in the ARM industry, the Debt Buyers Association’s annual conference marks the first conference of the year that we typically attend. But this year, I have already attended two industry conferences, including the International Association of Commercial Collectors Annual Convention in Miami and insideARM’s Large Market Participant Summit 2014 last week in Washington and I noticed a few themes developing that I wanted to share.
1. The smaller conferences tend to attract the owner/operators. The IACC announced they had record attendance levels of slightly more than 200 participants. I noticed that the vast majority of those in attendance at IACC were agency owners. I guess having the conference in Miami in January doesn’t hurt attendance levels. One of the most popular sessions was a peer-to-peer discussion about hot topics in which owners shared their viewpoints on their own operational challenges and technology advancements. At the insideARM Summit, there were also a large percentage of owners in attendance. The hot topic of regulation attracted the interest of many decision makers who are trying to make sense of this dynamic marketplace.
2. The attendees tend to stay in the sessions. A lot of times when I attend national conferences, I notice the hallways and exhibit halls are a lot more populated than the speaker sessions. This is not typically the case at the smaller conferences. The sessions are very well attended and the level of audience participation during the sessions is quite high. Networking is reserved for the breaks and cocktail receptions. On the second day of the iA Summit, there was a diverse panel that consisted of representatives from a number of consumer advocacy groups, the CFPB Advisory Board and an Associate Professor of Law from the University of Connecticut. This was a very popular session as evidenced by the number of questions raised and the volume of Tweets, which leads me to my next point…
3. Twitter has become an important communication tool at conferences. Contrary to what my teenage sons might think, I don’t live in the Stone Age. I realize that Twitter had a very successful public offering last year and boasts having hundreds of millions of users every day. I am one of them (@mike_ginsberg) although I find that the vast majority of the ARM industry is not comfortable using social media to communicate. What I noticed at the insideARM Summit was the active usage among attendees who were tweeting noteworthy points made during the sessions. Others retweeted these points from their desktops to their following so the connection was made at many different levels. You can check out the posts with #iasummit2014 for yourself. Here are some of the tweets from the IA Summit last week :
Conferences have certainly evolved due to technology advancements but the benefit of human connection at live events is still a compelling reason why many of us continue to attend conferences. Both are worth exploring.