Bank Administration Institute Cancels Its '85 Convention: President Cites Dwindling Attendance at Recent Parlays, Announces Plans for Working Conference for 'Official Family.'
Garsson, Robert M., American Banker
After years of disappointing attendance figures, the Bank Administration Institute's annual convention has been dropped, at least for 1985 and possibly for many years after.
Instead, the institute will hold what its president says will be a working conference of the BAI's "official family": board members, the heads of local chapters, program directors, and the like. That could make for a family gathering of from 300 to 500 people, BAI President Ronald Burke said.
"We have looked at the annual meeting rigorously for the past three or four years and have tried to figure out why we were doing it," Mr. Burke said in a telephone interview this week. "Many didn't think it was accomplishing very much."
"Most of the chief executive officers we are talking to are into cost-cutting and reduction of nonoperating expenses. They are willing to invest in things with a high payoff," such as the institute's numerous technical conferences, but are increasingly less willing to spend money on generalized conventions, he said. Drop-Off Since 1970s
The institute's most recent national convention, which ended Sept. 14 in Denver, drew about 650 registered delegates. That group swelled to about 1,150 when spouses and vendors were counted. That compared to 900 delegates the year before, when the convention was held in San Francisco; 700 in Houston in 1982, and 1,150 in Honolulu in 1981.
By contrast, the convention drew 1,800 the last time it met in San Francisco, in 1973, and drew comparable registrations throughout most of the 1970s, Mr. Burke said.
The picture is brighter for the American Bankers Association, the industry's primary trade group. The ABA expects to draw more than 9,500 people to its annual convention in New York next month, spokesman Mark Serepca said.
Attendance varies considerably, depending upon which city the convention is held in, Mr. Serepca said. He added, however, that enthusiasm for the convention remains high. "We consistently sell out all exhibitor space," he said.
Mr. Burke noted that trade groups such as the ABA use annual conventions for political purposes, to set policy goals and to elect officers. The BAI, which concentrates on research and education and does not take policy positions, "is not a trade group and we don't have [the ABA's] purpose for holding an annual convention," he said. …