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Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

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Innovation, technology and real estate were on the plates of association execs at Bisnow’s monthly lunch series Wednesday, along with the delicious fare served up by Boss Shepherd’s at 13th and E. 

Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

Katherine Lugar, who took over the American Hotel & Lodging Association two years ago, tells us AHLA doubled its membership to 22,000, added staff, and changed its board and its revenue model. The association collects $2 a room from each individual franchisee, which has become a new source of revenue, and gave the association greater grassroots power. Katherine is flanked by Cardinal Bank commercial service exec Cheryl Beebe and market exec Monica Tressler. They launched Cardinal’s nonprofit and association focus and also helped sponsor our lunch.

Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate CEO Jim Fetgatter says he’s working on increasing the organization's footprint in Asia. The Chinese are the second-largest investor in US real estate behind Canada. And several other Asian investors are also growing their US real estate investments. AFIRE, which has 200 members in 21 countries, has a large presence in Europe (with the largest concentration in Germany), but is less well-known in Asia.

Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

National Association of Broadcasters has moved most of its IT to the cloud and made mobile technology widely available to its 140 employees. EVP/CFO Joy Whitlow says they can access files and content from anywhere and their office phone can be transferred to their mobile phones through an app. NAB is also moving from Dupont Circle to be closer to Capitol Hill. Joy says it’s been a challenge to get politicians and their staff to and from NAB headquarters on N Street.

Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

One of the challenges facing the American Diabetes Association is trying to monetize all of its rich online content. Interim CEO Suzanne Berry, whose post ends March 31, says the organization is also grappling with integrating its two types of members: consumers and healthcare professionals. ADA is also looking at wearable technology and what kind of role it can play in how diabetics manage their health. Suzanne ran the Alexandria-based organization for eight months and in that time, she helped ADA find a new 78k SF headquarters in Crystal City. ADA will move in later this year, and Kevin Hagan will succeed her as CEO.

Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

To be on the Hill or not to be is always the question. CBRE EVP Manny Fitzgerald helped ADA find its non-Hill space, but plenty of associations still want to be close to the dome. Associations are also looking at evolving office designs as Millennials increase their presence in the workforce. Manny (who also helped sponsor our lunch) represents association and nonprofit tenants, and has helped them take advantage of a tenant-favorable market

Associations' Newest Innovations and Toughest Questions

Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro is a big fan of Crystal City, where CEA bought a building several years ago. It’s not as expensive as the Hill, but it’s just close enough for the 30% of CEA employees who need quick access. Gary, whose wife and children live in Detroit, also allows employees to telework one day per week. Reed Smith partner Olivia Shay-Byrne (who also sponsored the lunch) is advising her association and nonprofit clients to take advantage of amazingly low interest rates and certain tax exemptions. One trend she’s seeing is colleges and universities looking at public/private partnerships with developers to monetize their properties.

Big thanks to our sponsors CBRE, Reed Smith and Cardinal Bank. They're also participating in our 5th Annual Real Estate Strategies for Associations and Law Firms event on April 14. Sign up to hear more from these experts.