The Athletic Business Conference & Expo returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 13-15. While hundreds of attendees and exhibitors will reunite for North America's largest fall athletics, fitness and recreation show, there will be plenty of new faces this year, as well. Specifically, attendees will have a variety of new speakers to choose from within the 10 seminar tracks offered at ABC. AB editor in chief Dennis Van Milligen recently touched base with some of those speakers to discuss their presentations and what attendees can expect, as well as their own expectations for this year's show.
Position: Assistant Athletic Director for Communications and Public Relations, Georgia Tech University
Presentation: Building a Social Media Strategy for College Athletics
Date: Thursday, Nov. 13, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Previous ABC Experience: "I have never attended."
Expectation for ABC 2014: "I think it will provide a fresher perspective. In college, we all basically share the same ideas. Every now and then, it's nice to step outside our comfort area and see what the other areas of sports are doing."
Presentation Preview: "I think a lot of people, when they hear the word 'strategy' or 'plan,' get freaked out a little bit. But it's not a difficult task. You just have to sit down and figure out what your goal is. What do you want to accomplish with social media? It's still relatively young in the athletics landscape. A main goal might be selling tickets, or another key area could be recruitment of both the student-athlete and the parents of the student-athlete. Finally, social media cannot be a one-person show. Similar to fundraising, it can't just fall on the shoulders of one person. Everyone from marketing, communications, creative and ticket sales have a hand in our strategy."
Position: Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness, Recreational Sports, University of Wisconsin
Presentation: Building Your Fitness Team: How to Transform Students into Fitness Professionals
Date: Saturday, Nov. 15, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Previous ABC Experience: "I was last there in 2012, and what I really liked was the different tracks. I could do colleges and universities, I could do fitness, I could do management. What really stood out was Sarah Kooperman's presentation on climbing the ladder. I also attended the Zumbathon fundraiser for Augie's Quest. There's multiple conferences going on so you get to network with a really diverse group of people. There's a more collaborative effort when you go to an Athletic Business Conference & Expo."
Expectation for ABC 2014: "We just passed a $233 million referendum here and have just started planning. So we're really excited about looking at a lot of new things, including architects or simple things like flooring, fitness equipment, software — pretty much everything. It's an open book."
Presentation Preview: "My session will highlight what we do here when we are recruiting students to work on staff as personal trainers and fitness instructors. But even more than that, it can be a good template for other campus rec facilities as we put a heavy emphasis on student-staff development. Working with corporate and commercial venues in fitness and wellness as far as recruitment goes will be a key part of the presentation, as well."
Position: Marketing and Enterprise Development Manager, City of Arlington (Texas) Parks and Recreation
Presentation: The New Customer: Marketing in the Zero Moment of Truth; and Social Media Tips and Tricks
Date: Marketing: Thursday, Nov. 13, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.; Social Media: Thursday, Nov. 13, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Previous ABC Experience: "This will be my first ABC. My father has attended several times, and some of the staff has attended."
Expectation for ABC 2014: "I expect to see a much more diverse audience than just the municipal parks and recreation industry, which is primarily the type of shows I've attended in the past. A lot of what we do carries over in terms of marketing parks and recreation to marketing collegiate athletics to marketing programs on a military base."
Presentation Preview: "Marketing in the Zero Moment of Truth is based off research demonstrating that there's been a fundamental shift in how people go about making purchases due to the Internet and social media. There's a new step that has evolved where people now consult 10 sources of information before making a purchasing decision. There's this whole other dynamic where you have to have a presence online. "Social Media Tips and Tricks will be a little more in-depth, taking attendees a bit further and looking at how to best utilize Facebook or Twitter or YouTube from a technical perspective. There are really powerful advertising tools that are available that a lot of people don't use or if they use them, maybe they're not using them well enough to target their message better. It will help attendees get a better ROI and help them spend their time better on social media. For example, one of the biggest tools that we've used and found a lot of value in in the last year has been YouTube advertising."
Position: Project Manager, Hastings+Chivetta
Presentation: Where to Start: Collegiate Space Needs and Planning Standards Date: Thursday, Nov. 13, 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Previous ABC Experience: "I've only been to ABC once, maybe four or five years ago."
Expectation for ABC 2014: "I hope attendees have fun at our workshops. We're doing an afternoon session on Designing Your Dream Facility: Survival of the Fittest, where we take a group of 20 to 30 and break them into groups where they have to put together a building using building blocks, and they have a program and a budget."
Presentation Preview: "The Collegiate Space sessions will help attendees gain a better understanding of predesign and the space program aspect of the design process, focusing specifically on that first part of getting your needs assessed. Before you start creating the pretty pictures that excite people, you really have to figure out the function and what you're going to use the building for, not only today but 10 to 20 years in the future."
Position: General Manager, Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, George Mason University
Presentation: Community Partnerships: Creating Demand to Help Grow Your Community Recreation Center
Date: Saturday, Nov. 15, 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Previous ABC Experience: "I've been to a number of ABCs, due in part to my longtime affiliation with the Medical Fitness Association. One highlight was seeing Bill Russell deliver the keynote address, and I have always enjoyed the wide variety of attendees."
Expectation for ABC 2014: "I'm excited for the pre-conference workshops I've signed up for. There's one on designing your own center called Designing Your Dream Facility: Survival of the Fittest, that will give me some really good ideas for a class that I teach. And I plan on attending Recreation: Past, Present and Future."
Presentation Preview: "My presentation will shed light on how valuable private-public partnerships can be. I manage the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, which is part of an agreement between Prince William County, the City of Manassas and George Mason University. It's considered part of Prince William County's parks and recreation system, and we host a variety of camp programs that generate close to $1 million in revenue. Attendees will hear about some of our other successes, as well as how to get a private-public partnership started, as many people don't know who to contact first, for example. These partnerships, or 'communiversities,' can be extremely beneficial."
Position: Assistant Director, Fitness and Wellness, Centers LLC at DePaul University
Presentation: Social Media Uses in Physical Activity Promotion
Date: Friday, Nov. 14, 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Previous ABC Experience: "I've attended two ABC conferences. My first was in 2008 and it was a great time. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I appreciated that it was co-hosted with a couple different conferences that were all very relevant to my industry. I also enjoyed the variety of presentations."
Expectation for ABC 2014: "Looking forward to learning a lot and getting some great networking opportunities, and then having some fun in the evening."
Presentation Preview: "Social media is changing how we are connecting with our students, with our members, and it's changed how students are consuming information. We want to help ourselves and help others basically figure out how to make the wisest investments in the time spent working on social media, whether it be marketing or promotion, or using it to actually do physical activity promotion. This presentation will make people a little more efficient and effective when they use social media to promote health and wellness."
This article originally appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business under the headline, "Breaking New Ground."