Recently LearningStone – the new online learning, communication and collaboration tool – went to the ASTD international conference and expo. It was hard work, fun, rewarding… so I thought I would share this.
If you’re interested to know what we were doing there, just check this.
The ASTD convention is focused on professional development and just in case you can’t find them anymore– the ASTD was renamed and rebranded during the conference to ATD – Association for Talent Development (what’s in a name… but the design of the logo improved a lot :-). Whatever you do, don’t try presenting K-18 educational products here. People just won’t be interested. This is for internal and external training providers… eh talent developers, HR people etc.
The convention is huge, this year about 11.500 visitors, quite expensive (though it’s not hard to get into the expo part for free) but they threw a great party (networking night) in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum which is pretty spectacular. There are hundreds of presentations, hundreds of nationalities, hundreds of booths… it’s big, really big, so visitors should come prepared, though walking into a random keynote will probably always be worth your while.
If you’re a start-up or any type of company in the EdTech / professional development field you might wonder if you should go. It’s important to know that only roughly 2000 people might be interested in you unless your product is on something like leadership, then it might be a few thousand more. If you are only going to present your startup at one expo, you might also consider Learning Solutions next year (both ATD and Learning Solutions are in Orlando, Florida – the convention heaven for the US).
There are two possibilities: pay money for a booth at the expo and/or try and get selected for a presentation. The expo is a bit more expensive than you might think as you’ll need furniture, brochures, banners etc. – all things you might now have yet if you’re a startup. A starting budget about 10.00 USD including some furniture, travel etc. is your starting point and the kind sales people at the ATD will try and sell you all sorts of sponsor packages too.
If you have something interesting to say: presenting combined with the expo is always the best solution so people can visit you. And about the booth: LearningStone was one of the latest companies registering and we were lucky with a great location (thank you ATD for warning us). Don’t choose a spot in the far corners of the expo – you might end up pretty lonely.
So once you’re there, the one thing you need to know about the expo is that people will visit you in bursts of thousands as the schedule has breaks to give people time to visit you but at other times it can be really quiet. In this case, the third day was nearly pointless for most companies at the expo. In general the best thing you can do is have more people on day one, than day two, than day three. But no worries, a visit to the convention is a great reward after a day or two at the expo.
So ATD 2015 (May 17-20) or Learning Solutions 2015 (March 25-27)? Probably the most important consideration is if you want people from outside the EdTech field to be able to bump into you or not (if so choose ATD). If you want most people you talk to, to be interested in learning and tech to start of with, choose Learning Solutions by the Elearning Guild. I just wonder who will have the best party location.