November 1, 2017

We live in a time where change is the only constant in our lives. Much like our tech products, the built environment changes and grows each and every year. FORUM should be no exception in this wave of change; so we thought FORUM Texas would be the perfect FORUM for a fresh coat of paint. Ultimately these improvements will make for a better overall conference experience.

The biggest thing for us was making sure FORUM had its tech in the 21st century. Booklets have been great and handy tools, but have the pitfalls of not being adaptable or interactive. Through the Bizzabo app we’ll be able to relay information in real-time. We’ll also be able to add a lot of functionality that we weren’t able to include on paper.  Your FORUM registration now will match the conference app schedule to remove any potential for confusion. Additionally, we’ll be providing a lot of digital content throughout the app. Maps of the city, hotel, as well as recommendations, will be accessible and navigable through Bizzabo.

With organizations like TED providing such rich-content online for anyone to consume at any time; we needed to rethink what our conference was offering. Our answer is to make all of our content as interactive as possible in order to maximize the in-person experience. This means more times for questions and discussion as well as several other tactics to have presentations be more interactive overall. We’re also adding a new type of content this year called “meetups.” These sessions will feature a professional to start the conversation off, but also are as much about the conversation that comes from everybody attending the session.

In the past tracks have created a lot of choice at once, but also have made the topics each day a bit disjointed. We flipped the script by turning tracks into daily events. So each day of the conference has an entirely different focus. While this limits choice each day, it helps each track become more of a daily conversation point rather than just a few short lectures. A collaboration board with provocative questions, for all of the attendees to answer and respond to, will help amplify this discourse throughout the conference. FORUM is an energizing conference, so we thought it would be great to package this motivation with thought provoking questions and takeaways for each of the attendees to bring back to their chapter.

At previous FORUMs it’s been all too easy for members to go the entire length of the conference without interacting with people outside of their own chapter. We’re dedicating more time for students to meet people from other chapters. This is blended into the fabric of the overall schedule through dedicated events as well as informal introductions for several of the sessions.

FORUM is a lot. There’s so much packed into just four days. We wanted to ease the hectic nature of the conference with some new additions. For example, Austin is known for being laid back. The normal firm attire isn’t a suit, it’s jeans and an oxford shirt. We want to encourage everyone to dress a bit more relaxed and to take this relaxed vibe to heart. It means a lot to us here. What it also means is dedicated times for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The times will be tight, but you can at least count on a bit of time to go across the street and grab a breakfast taco and some pan dulce. This focus also means an entire free night for you to explore the city the way you want to. Lastly, each of the days also shrink in content from one day to the next. This is to help curb the FORUM burnout. We also threw in a few late starts for a good measure to ensure all can make it through the four days.

This is going to be a one-of-a-kind FORUM, in a one-of-a-kind city. With so much to do and see in Austin, we could not be more excited. We’re bringing all of the Texan kindness, charm, and hospitality we got. Get pumped y’all, it’s gonna be lit.  ???? 


Zachary Dunn | 2017 AIAS FORUM Chair