The Center for Association Leadership, known as ASAE, unveiled Xperience Design Project (XDP) in National Harbor, Maryland, this week at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. The two-day event brought together 1,816 association professionals and industry partners.

Their challenge: to collaborate on ideas to reinvent their meetings.


Tuesday was spent in small group meetings led by expert faculty. Collectively dubbed the Lab, the groups brainstormed practical solutions for improving meeting experiences in five key “zones”: experience, learning, location, marketing and technology. On Wednesday morning, faculty shared their own insights as well as takeaways that had bubbled up from the groups.


Faculty included James H. Gilmore, co-founder of Strategic Horizons LLP and adjunct faculty at UVA Darden Business School; Jonathan Finkelstein, chief executive officer of Credly; Michael Dominguez, chief sales officer of MGM Resorts International; Eric Kuhn, chief marketing officer of Layer3 TV Inc., KiKi L’Italien, chief executive officer and founder of Amplified Growth; and Reggie Aggarwal, chief executive officer and founder of Cvent.

Snippets from the insights:

“While we think of location typically as destination, it’s also the airport … and the hotel. It’s those micro-locations within each of those locations that attendees see.”—Michael Dominguez

“Because you look at the lifelong learning of your members, you also can look into the future and see what their needs are and will be as learners. That’s something that an employer or a college or a university can’t do.”—Jonathan Finkelstein

“Live events need make sure that they’re conveying that an attendee’s heart will be fulfilled just as much as the brain.”—Eric Kuhn

XDP host Lisa Kay Solomon summed up with a call to action for attendees: “At the end of the day, we want to create something that your attendees wouldn’t ever be able to get at home. Remember, you have the power to design experiences.”

The next XDP will be April 19-20, 2018 at the Gaylord National Resort.