The holiday spirit took over Sacramento’s renovated SAFE Credit Union Convention Center last week as 400 association meeting professionals came together during the return of CalSAE’s Seasonal Spectacular event Dec. 14 and 15. The gathering was equal parts hosted-buyer appointments, educational content, trade show and reunion.

“Associations pivoted faster than they ever have before,” said Jim Anderson, CalSAE president and CEO. They were there when members needed them and that cemented their loyalty. “It was scary, but a lot of associations made good budget decisions, called on reserves and made the transition to virtual,” he said. CalSAE and ASAE worked hard to make sure associations could get access to federal funds. “They learned the hard way how to go virtual and I think we will see more innovation in the years to come,” he concluded.

Anderson acknowledged that while hybrid meetings are all the buzz right now, the rising cost of AV and hotels is holding many associations back. CalSAE’s 2022 calendar will include either exclusive in-person or exclusive virtual and look at hybrid in the future.

Covidnomics 101

“The economy is back; it is on fire, it’s the new roaring ‘20s,” explained Christopher Thornberg, Ph.D., founding partner with Beacon Economics, during his morning keynote on Wednesday. “Natural disasters, such as pandemics are tragic, but they don’t have long-term economic consequences,” he said.

The supply chain and staffing problems, he said, are the result of an acceleration of underlying trends, including the retiring of millions of people who were going to leave their jobs eventually and entrenched “miserablism”, a culture of telling people how terrible things are. This was paired with “excessive” government monetary stimulus to supercharge the economy. “It threw lubrication in the wheels of change and now labor markets have shifted permanently,” he said.

California is further affected by a chronic lack of affordable housing that is turning it into “a country club state” where only the rich can afford to live.

Thornberg warned that “at some point, there is going to be a sugar crash.”

This insight was followed by actionable tips from Enthusiastic You! author Joshua Evans, who shared tips for building a culture of engagement. A panel consisting of Durst Event Strategies Owner Marcia Durst, Medtronic Senior Meeting and Events Sourcing Optimization Specialist Lauren Goff and events! Enterprises Inc. President Heather Tanfani shared strategies and tactics for planning post-pandemic sustainable meetings.

Association Expansion

CalSAE announced that it will be expanding to serve the members of Oregon Society of Association Management/OSAM through a collaborative agreement.

“It has been difficult for some associations,” said Anderson. Oregon reached out and CalSAE accepted the invitation to provide services through programs already in place. They will have their own council to meet their regional needs.

CalSAE is already the product of four regional societies merging in 2002. This merger will form a fifth region in Oregon to mirror the other four regions (Bay Area, Capital, Southern CA, and San Diego).

“It isn’t that much farther to Portland than San Diego,” he quipped.