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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From ALA to NECC, part one

Just finished a four day whirlwind tour, at two major conferences -- ALA in Washington DC and NECC in Atlanta. That's the American Library Association annual conference and the National Educational Computing Conference.

Topic for today's post --what makes for a great conference? For Tutor.com and for me? Let's start with ALA, and in a couple days I'll do a part two posting on NECC.

We spend tens of thousands of dollars on planning for and attending ALA. This is the one time when 15,000 library leaders and librarians are in one place, and we have a chance to tell our story -- that many of their peers have benefited from working with Tutor.com to bring Live Homework Help to their communities. Over 1,600 library locations in 43 states will serve over a million Live Homework Help sessions this year.

At the annual conference, we try to accomplish a few key goals:

-- Provide a setting where we can thank our current clients, award them for their marketing and program innovations, and provide them a forum to share their experiences and stories with their peers across the country. This year, we had over 100 clients show up for our Innovators Awards reception. Sounds like all business, but the atmosphere was great, and the bartenders served many an orange drink that we invented: The Raving Fan, a secret recipe creating a delicious fruity drink. :-) Not enough of a reason to become a Tutor.com client, but not a bad topper during a busy conference.

-- Create a setting where prospective clients get to hear real live stories from current clients about their Live Homework Help and Ask A Librarian programs, to help through the decision making process. This year's breakfast had over 120 attendees, and featured three great speakers, including ALA President and Director of Princeton Public Library, Leslie Burger.

-- Have a great booth where clients and prospective clients can talk to us, see a great demo, and learn more. We had a dozen Tutor.com people at the booth, including technology managers, tutor management staff, and even two tutors for the first time. Not only do we get great feedback and sales leads, but our staff comes back super energized from interacting with our clients.

-- Support library associations and advocacy efforts. We were proud to sponsor Leslie Burger's Emerging Leader's program, Urban Library Council events, YALSA's Teen Tech Week, RUSA events. Great way to thank library leaders for their support, give back to the library community, and increase awareness of Tutor.com's commitment to library programs.

When hundreds of people tell you how much they appreciate your service and your support of the programs that matter to them -- now that makes for a successful conference.

NECC report in a couple days....

George Cigale, gcigale@tutor.com