BACK ON TRACK: ANNUAL CONFERENCE COMES BACK BETTER THAN EVER

Imagine your association staff and volunteers have worked for more than half a year to plan your annual conference. Anticipation is at its peak: members from throughout the country are traveling to a great venue to hear exceptional speakers and learn from a variety of educational workshops. Everything is set, scheduled and ready for the opening session.

Until Hurricane Ike arrives.

Just two years after Hurricane Ike derailed its annual conference, the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC) 2010 conference was not only back on track: members said it was one of the best conferences yet.
How did NAHC navigate through the storm, move ahead and create a well-attended conference? With planning, communication and an unwavering commitment to meeting member needs.

Like any well-prepared association, NAHC had cancellation insurance, which eased the burden of canceling hotel rooms and meeting space when it became clear that Hurricane Ike was headed to Houston. Working with the hotel required goodwill and a sense of partnership. The result? The hotel offered to extend its lower rates to one of its properties in San Francisco (the location for the 2009 conference).

Meeting member needs has helped NAHC grow its conference. Location is everything for this group – as is the need to keep the conference program educational and fun. To emphasize the partnership benefits of cooperatives – and to introduce its members to other cooperative members, the 2010 conference featured a large, outdoor activity.
But it wasn’t your typical activity. The event established a new world record for the largest serving of macaroni and cheese – all 2,469 pounds of it! The event was sponsored by Cabot Creamery, a cooperative of Vermont farmers. The culinary skill of Chef John Folse & Company made it happen. The “cooperative community” is just that – and building relationships with other cooperatives is valuable on multiple levels.

In addition to this record-breaking event, just two years after Hurricane Ike struck, the NAHC 2010 conference drew members from 20 states and 107 cooperatives from around the country. After working diligently to manage costs and develop a sound budget, a portion of the conference revenue now funds some of the association’s work, along with an affinity program. As important as the financials, the content and programming were particularly strong, providing educational tracks on everything from training new board members to communications and marketing and learning about the latest in mortgage products.

It’s clear that the NAHC annual conference is back on track – and poised for success in Puerto Rico this November.