Keeping the Faith

JAN 2012

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KEEPING THE FAITH SPONSORED BY How the Catalyst Conference Has Become One of the Fastest-Growing Faith-Based Event Brands THE CATALYST CONFERENCE has a history of breaking records – six Guin- ness Book of World Records to be exact. One year, more than 10,000 attendees participated in a record-setting pillow fight. Another year, more than 8,000 attendees sat on Whoopee cushions simultaneously. Two years ago, a man dove three stories from 35 feet 9 inches in the air into a kiddie pool with 11 inches of water. Last year, a man shot out of a cannon right before a keynote speaker took the stage. "We want to engage all five senses to create an unforgettable experience," said Jason Haynes, event manager for Te Catalyst Conference, an event for young Events at a Glance Catalyst Atlanta October 3-5, 2012 at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth, GA Launched: 2000 Attendance: 13,000 Exhibit Space: 9,000 NSF Catalyst West April 18-20, 2012 at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA Launched: 2009 Attendance: 3,500 Exhibit Space: 4,500 NSF Catalyst Dallas May 9-11, 2012 at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, TX Launched: 2011 Attendance: 3,500 Exhibit Space: 4,500 NSF Catalyst One Day Held in four cities (Orlando, Chicago, Houston, Orange County) in 2011, adding one city (Atlanta) in 2012 Launched: 2008 Attendance: 1,500-1,800 Exhibit Space: 800 NSF 8 January 2012 | Trade Show Executive evangelical church leaders. About 80% of attendees are under age 42, and the average age of an attendee is 32. "Te speakers are the focal point, but the experience created around the learn- ing helps attendees absorb the informa- tion," said Haynes. "Tey are coming to this event to not only learn but also to take a break from their everyday lives. "We want them to worship, laugh, have fun, breath easy, and be entertained by our experience elements." Catalyst was conceived as a Next Generation Leaders Conference in 1999 by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, John Maxwell, Lanny Donoho and sev- eral young leaders. It was created to meet the needs of a new generation of church leaders. Te founders said most faith-based events at the time seemed to be focused on a 40- to 60-year-old mindset and medium. Since it was launched in 2000, Te Catalyst Conference has grown from one small event at a church outside Atlanta to a major brand that produces three multi-day conferences in Atlanta, Dallas and Orange County; four one- day conferences in Orlando, Chicago, Houston and Orange County; as well as a monthly magazine, blogs, pod- casts, books, DVDs and much more. Te growth is due, in part, to the organization's unique attendee marketing and promotion strategies. Catalyst offers a wide variety of group and early-bird discounts. "Most attendees — about 70% — come as part of a group of two or more," said Haynes. "Our key approach is to identify and develop relationships with group leaders so they will foster growth. We have a concierge team that makes personal visits and calls to group leaders. We've experienced explosive growth because of that." On the exhibitor side, Catalyst, a for-profit organization, typically sells one-year sponsorships to companies that align with its values and beliefs. As part of the sponsorship, organizations such as Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, Compassion International and Tomas Nelson Publishing have a major presence that includes exhibit space at all Catalyst events. But when it comes down it, the at- tendee experience is the organization's top priority. "We look to the Grammy Awards and MTV Music awards for inspiration. One of the most exciting parts of my job is that each year we try to outdo ourselves," said Haynes. "Pro- duction is by far our biggest expense. Te challenge is to provide an experi- ence attendees haven't seen before while keeping within budget." Reach Jason Haynes at (404) 314-4834 or jason.haynes@catalystspace.com

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