Why the Running USA Industry Conference Stands Above the Rest
Today we are pleased to share with you a special interview with Christine Bowen, Running USA’s vice president of programming, partnerships and operations, that answers some important questions about the industry’s preeminent conference.
As those who have been around the business of road running have observed, there are many recent efforts by other companies and organizations to duplicate the success of the 17-year Running USA event, known for its outstanding content and information sharing among attendees.
But despite those attempts, Running USA remains the best attended industry event, with the highest number of event directors at ANY event worldwide, and a lineup of programming that never allows for pay to play participation. It also increasingly attracts global attendees, who have gained valuable insight from the experiences of their North American counterparts. Read on for more on this topic and ways to make the most of the 2020 Conference experience:
What makes the Running USA conference stand out from other running and sports industry conferences?:
Bowen: So many things make this event stand above the rest, but one that we are particularly proud of is our content and education. Our conference planning committee works throughout the year to define the program and keep it as neutral as possible while delivering the most relevant and informed content on pressing industry issues. While other events may allow “pay to play” for speaking spots and comped entry for speakers, Running USA is proud to have more than 100 applications from professionals hoping to speak at the conference each year. Speakers are heavily vetted before they are given a slot to speak or present. The result is an authentic culture of sharing that has been developed and improved over the years to reach the top.
Running USA is and always has been a non-profit and serves as the trade organization for the sport. Our mission is to help running companies grow and improve their business and conference is just one of many ways we accomplish that. More than 650 industry leaders and decision makers will gather for this year’s event in Las Vegas, and attendance at the event increases nearly every year - with an impressive 85 percent return rate annually.
If I want to meet other attendees at the event, what do you recommend?
Bowen: Be sure to scour the attendee list in advance online and make sure to download the conference app. We often hear in our post-event survey that newcomers can’t believe how welcoming our industry leaders are to first time attendees. We also host a first-timer session on Sunday afternoon with helpful tips for navigating the event. And it goes without saying that if there is someone you want to connect with, please reach out to a team member and we are happy to facilitate the connection.
You have an expo at this event, what is that all about? Who exhibits and what value is provided?
Bowen: This the one place that events and industry suppliers (whether they make medals, apparel, technology, signage, bibs, or something else we haven’t even thought of yet) all can come together under one roof. Whether you are looking to meet with your existing vendors or searching for new ones, this is the place to do it. You are sure to discover something innovative in the expo, I highly recommend spending time there even if you aren’t sure what might help your event improve on the supply side.
How do you feel about the other industry conferences that are attempting to emulate the Running USA content and programming?
Bowen: As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…”? We get it, our event has a very successful model and it’s natural that competing events would want to tap into some of those ideas or even invite our past speakers. The challenge for the industry as a whole, however, is keeping content fresh. We are always innovating and listening to our attendees and we think that folks will see that again at this year's conference in Las Vegas and again and again in the years to come. Running USA is at the forefront of content and education. If you want the best, you come to our event.
What is your favorite part of the conference?
Bowen: My favorite part of the conference is when everyone is arriving into the hotel. There is such an incredible energy. It’s pretty wild to see everyone's excitement. It’s genuinely like a family reunion. At this point the team has done the work. It’s great to see so many folks turn out from around the world. Once Monday morning hits, the green light turns on and then it is out of our hands. We’ve prepped the speakers for months and let them run the show. The learning and networking experiences that take place are organic. All you have to do to experience the magic is show up and be ready to engage with your peers.