Case Study: ASFA

Highest Satisfaction Ratings for Annual Conference Achieved Through Collaboration

ASFA is the peak policy, research and advocacy body for Australia’s superannuation industry.

The superannuation industry has grown and changed dramatically in the 54 years since the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) first opened its doors.

A recent development is the trend for outsourcing and the increased reliance on third party suppliers to remain competitive.

Nicolette Hughes, AFSA’s Director of Product Strategy & Innovation, says building relationships with trusted companies is the key to successful outsourcing.

The collaborative idea generation we do with Enhance around talent is very useful.

World Leading Conference

ASFA encourages industry best practice by providing cutting edge learning and networking experiences for members. The annual ASFA Conference has evolved to become the largest pensions event in the world.

It brings together the whole of industry for 2-3 days of intensive learning and networking, with more than 100 expert speakers from as many as 10 countries.

Event at a Glance

  • Industry: Finance – Superannuation
  • Event: World’s largest pensions event, Annual Conference
  • Event Size: 1500+ pax
  • Event Planner: Nicolette Hughes, Director of Product Strategy & Innovation
  • Tenure with Enhance: 6+ years

Point of Difference

Nicolette Hughes says the event’s point of difference is, “Providing an immersive, multi-sensory experience that meets the learning needs of a broad cross-section of superannuation executives.”

Nicolette welcomes the “exchange of ideas, the meeting of minds,” that bring all the pieces of the production together.

While the conference focus is predominantly educational, it’s essential to get the finer sensory details right for every session. “It needs to be much more than just turning up to get CPD points,” says Nicolette.

The AFSA Conference is prominent on the world stage and standards are high. The suppliers ASFA works with need to have an equally vested interest in exceptional outcomes.

Outsourcing Talent Management

While internal staff manage the bulk of the conference project, Nicolette outsources the specialised field of talent management. As a seasoned conference director, she knows well the importance of sourcing the right keynote speakers, event hosts and entertainers for the discerning AFSA delegates.

Enhance Entertainment has been the preferred partner for 6 years and counting, collaborating with ASFA to create perfectly-pitched talent programs for the Conference Dinners and closing Grand Finale Luncheons.

Nicolette attributes the success of the partnership to having complete trust, confidence and experience:

“I never stress… I have peace of mind knowing Enhance is there. For idea generation, as well as being a conduit for and negotiator with the talent.”

Importance of Audience Fit

The Conference Dinner and, to some extent, the Grand Finale Luncheon, lean more towards entertainment than learning, providing a brief opportunity for delegates to unwind. Still, it doesn’t detract from the importance of correctly matching talent to audience.

I never stress… I have peace of mind knowing Enhance is there.

As Nicolette says, entertainment is “a very important part of the whole package.” The talent for final sessions needs to be both intelligent and entertaining in tone, content and style to cap off the AFSA conference on the highest possible note.

Collaborative Process

Idea Generation

For ASFA, working with Enhance over the years has nurtured trust, confidence and good process. Enhance has become as well acquainted with the business as an internal resource, with the advantage of fresh, outsider perspective and specialist expertise:

“The collaborative idea generation we do with Enhance around talent is very useful. And we’ve worked together long enough that we can be honest to say if something won’t work.”

Fine-tuning the Details

While working on the previous year’s conference, Nicolette observed the gradual emergence of younger delegates. Working with Enhance, she explored the possibility of moving away from the ever-popular Australian content.

Enhance provided several alternative talent concepts to review. However, through careful appraisal and honest discussion both parties agreed it was too soon for complete departure from the tried-and-true entertainment style of recent years. Nicolette welcomes the “exchange of ideas, the meeting of minds,” that bring all the pieces of the production together.

Event Night: Complete Peace of Mind

Having developed the concepts with ASFA, Enhance works hard behind the scenes to book and brief the talent. They also provide talent management on event night, which is a huge help for Nicolette.

While she is busy seating 1,500+ guests and overseeing the myriad moving parts, Enhance takes complete care of talent, from prompting them to the stage and handling all on-site requests from speakers and performers.

Nicolette also notes that contractor-contractor relationships are important to keep everything running smoothly and on time:

“Enhance has a very good relationship with my AV team, who I’ve worked with for 20+ years.”

The consistently high participant feedback is testament to how well the ‘jigsaw pieces’ of the Conference Dinners and Grand Finale Luncheons have come together, year after year.

Nicolette attributes the success of the partnership to having complete trust, confidence and experience.

Outstanding Delegate Satisfaction

Nicolette reports that delegate satisfaction from the ASFA Conference is extremely high, averaging 90% responses sitting in the ‘Very Good’ and ‘Excellent’ categories. It’s a significant achievement given the broad, and slowly changing, audience demographic.

The inspired selection of speakers for the following sessions since 2012 have been exceptionally well received:

Grand Finale Luncheons
  • Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everedge
  • Ben Elton
  • Julia Zemiro
  • Stephen Fry
  • Jane Kennedy
Conference Dinners
  • James Morrison (MC, Performing) & Marina Prior as feature act
  • ‘Illusion theme’ featuring Soul Mystique, Laserman & Raymond Crowe with Mental as Anything for dancing.
  • Karise Eden
  • Julia Zemiro, James Reyne & Mark Seymour, 2-person Hoodoo Gurus *
  • Jimmy Barnes & Mahalia Barnes *
* received record satisfaction scores

The Best Is Yet To Come

ASFA and Enhance are now in the completion stages for the talent programs at this year’s Conference Dinner and Grand Finale Luncheon. The advantages of working continuously with Enhance are clear.

“We keep on improving and improving,” says Nicolette.

Enhance perfectly fits the profile Nicolette preferred partners: a small-medium business where she works directly with other Directors, rather than junior staffers in a larger company where turnover can be frequent.

She is able to count on expert advice, and can sleep at night knowing that Enhance has equally vested interests in brilliant outcomes for the ASFA Conference.

The long-term partnership has allowed trust, confidence and complete peace of mind to grow, and the results simply speak for themselves.

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