I just did the math and determined that I’ve now been to 17 Affiliate Summit conferences since 2006. The conference is far and away the largest tradeshow in the performance marketing industry.
In terms of size, I don’t think there’s another show that comes close in the industry. There are several high quality affiliate network events, which tend to be more intimate and focused, but I can’t think of another show that brings together more merchants and affiliates from EVERY affiliate network together at the same time.
But being the conference leader hasn’t made the folks at Affiliate Summit complacent. They keep finding ways to make improvements to the show.
Perhaps one of the keys to their success is that they’re constantly surveying attendees for feedback. From my viewpoint, Shawn and Missy (the conference organizers) tend to rely more on their attendees for feedback, than their own preferences and instincts.
The idea of running a conference like a democracy might sound a little crazy, but based on my observations it seems to work.
For example, the sessions and conference locations are voted on by both conference attendees and Affiliate Summit Advisory Board Members. As a business owner, I’m not sure I could entrust these decisions to anyone other than myself or a business partner, but this customer-centric approach seems to work well for Affiliate Summit.
How do I know this?
1) Because the sessions were better this year than they were last year.
2) The hotel was better than it was last year.
3) The speed of registration was faster than it was last year.
4) The networking opportunities were bigger than last year.
Generally speaking, when a business dominates their industry, you tend to see a decline in value and service. When you own the space there’s little motivation to improve.
When you’re the startup fighting for marketshare you’re constantly looking for ways to one-up the competition.
With that said, it’s nice to see that Affiliate Summit hasn’t lost their startup instincts, despite being the “800 pound gorilla” in the affiliate conference category.