The National Rural Water Association Flows into Their 2016 Conference with a2z

The National Rural Water Association (NRWA) provides training, technical assistance, and funding to 49 affiliated state association members—groups that operate, manage, and finance water and wastewater utilities. The association’s annual meeting, WaterPro, brings in 1,900 to 2,500 board members, utilities managers, and state association employees for three days of education. On two of the days, an exhibit hall displays products—from fire hydrants to water meters—from between 110 and 130 exhibitors. With a motto of “Quality on Tap,” NRWA brought a2z on board to help improve the flow of their existing processes.

Doing more with less

As a small association, NRWA suffered from the same challenges as similar groups: not enough hours in the day to get everything done, existing software that wasn’t effective, no centralized database to consolidate the data, and the need for an improved customer experience. As a result, it took months to update the software for every new show cycle, data was being entered multiple times in different locations; and, many tasks that could have been automated were being completed manually.

Redirecting the flow

Another association with which NRWA co-located for several years used a2z’s event-management platform and had tried several others. They spoke highly of a2z, prompting NRWA to take a look. Based on their interaction with the a2z team and demonstrations of the software, the team led by Becca Sheppeard, manager, member services, conference, meetings and events, selected a2zShow for online exhibit space sales and to manage speakers and presentations for the conference. “We’re hoping it will be a one-stop shop for us,” she says.

Great service, more time

Sheppeard is very impressed with the service a2z provides. NRWA was assigned a project manager to work with them through every stage of the implementation. She worked closely with Sheppeard and her team to help them meet deadlines and address any questions. “She’s thorough and responds right away to my requests,” she says.

By streamlining operations through a2z, NRWA staff is saving time too. “Previously, it took me about three months to get a new sales contract updated in our system. Now, I tell a2z what I want and they make the changes. The person doing the sales here is even doing a lot of it on her own. I’m seeing at least a 30% time savings over what I was doing before,” Sheppeard adds.

Keeping quality on tap

Sheppeard is looking forward to the space draw planned during the upcoming conference in September. “I’m anticipating it will be much easier than in the past. Last year, we had exhibitors who stood in line because the process was so slow. We had to take a paper copy of a floor plan and mark the spaces they wanted. This year, walking around with an iPad is going to be huge for us. We’ll be able to demonstrate that we’re on our game technologically,” she says.