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BMA14: Annual conference adopts new name, venue and format

Gary Slack
Chief Organizer, BMA14

The Global BMA Conference has grown at a steady clip for the past five years, and organizers expect to see attendance at the Chicago event swell by another 15% to 20% this year.

The success brings change. The conference, held May 28-30, will move to a larger hotel, host more speakers than ever before and drop its annual conference theme in favor of what has become the accepted shorthand. “The BMA” is growing up.

“We’re moving the conference to Chicago’s most historic and stately hotel,” says Gary Slack, who has organized the event as attendance has quintupled over the past 5 years. “It’s going to enable everyone to stay in the conference hotel. The conference has the ability to attract as many as 1,000 people.”

Hilton Chicago will host the event through 2016, Slack says. The association has negotiated a $199 per night room rate—$30 less than attendees paid last year. About two-thirds of conference attendees travel from out of state.

The Hilton also has larger ballrooms and meeting spaces to accommodate a growing audience and a livelier schedule, Slack says. He plans to continue to intersperse 20-minute, TED-like “Firestarter” sessions into the line-up of full-length presentations. But he will also be asking keynote speakers and panel moderators to trim their sessions to 45 minutes.

The goal: Slack would like to invite 100 speakers to fill the same conference schedule traditionally shared by about 75 speakers.

Attendees who want to engage with a speaker in more depth will have the option to attend breakout sessions, which likely will include a good amount of time for audience questions.

Slack already has recruited a variety of speakers, ranging from Beth Comstock, CMO-GE, to Story Wars author Jonah Sachs and LinkedIn VP Brian Goffman.

The conference will focus on business marketing at large, Slack says.

“The BMA is a big tent,” Slack says. “I want to run a global conference that is the one place you can go to in a very compact number of days and learn the latest trends, best practices, new thinking, the tools and the technology that you can immediately take back to the office.”

Visit for more information or to register for the event.

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