For five consecutive years, Rebecca Gilliam, Vice President – Visitor Experiences at Minnetrista in Muncie, IN, has registered for AAM’s Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo during the first week of our Fall Special. We interviewed her to find out why.

Interview with Rebecca Gilliam, Vice President – Visitor Experiences at Minnetrista in Muncie, IN


Q. Why do you register for the annual meeting during the Fall Special, and why during the first few days?

A. “I wasn’t even aware that I’m among the first to register each year! Of course we want to take advantage of the best rate, and we know we’re going to be active in more than just coming to the meeting. I’m a member of PRAM (the Public Relations and Marketing Professional Network) and my colleague is a member of EdCom (the Education Professional Network), so why wait to sign up?

Q. How does Minnetrista use what you learn from attending the annual meeting each year?

A. “I’ve been able to take numerous ideas that I’ve picked up, even from sessions where I was a presenter – ideas I’m sad I hadn’t thought of – and use them here at Minnetrista. But the best thing is the time we get to spend connecting with other practitioners. Electronic connections are okay, and we do them every day, but there’s no substitute for sitting down together in person and picking somebody’s brain, or letting them pick yours, and doing a deep dive on something important to you. That’s why we attend.”

Q. What would you tell others who are unsure about attending?

A. “If you can make it work, it’s the best value you can get for your time and your money. You can network with colleagues, get exposed to future thinking, and get access to the vendors and other exhibitors to find out what’s happening not only in the digital areas, but the non-digital, too.”

Q. What’s one tip you can offer to help people get the most from attending the annual meeting?

A. “Don’t be anonymous. Put yourself out there, get into groups, find a way to make the conference smaller. You can do that by being a presenter, but also by simply sitting at a round table during the marketplace of ideas, or attending a dine-around. The professional networks have networking events, too. If you can shrink the event from 6,000 people down to even 100, you’re more likely to come away with some connections and relationships that you didn’t have before.”