The Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers (MASI) recently hosted its 19th Annual Fall Conference at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. We spoke to MASI Executive Director Dan Gibson about this year’s conference, next year’s conference, and how MASI has grown since expanding beyond workers’ comp.
MASI features a double room format, with a large exhibit hall and separate space for presentations. Parties and networking events are also usually held in the same rooms, allowing attendees to remain localized. Asked if he plans to keep this format as attendance at the conference continues to grow, Gibson was assured.
“I think we’ll keep the same format. The feedback we get is always great so there’s no real reason to do something different. We love the Beau Rivage setup and hosting the event there,” he said.
Part of the reason the conference continues to fill more rows at the Beau is due to MASI’s expansion in recent years, which Gibson claims has been a huge success.
“We switched to all lines of self-insurance all the way back in 2010,” he said. “It is challenging [in planning the conference] to reach everyone, because we have a wide range of membership – quite a few case managers, HR professionals, attorneys, brokers – all sorts.”
The decision to expand hits close to home, as MASI’s Louisiana counterpart, the Louisiana Association of Self-Insured Employers (LASIE), made the same move in late 2014. Its conference in Lake Charles in November will be its second attempt at appealing to the entire self-insurance industry rather than just workers’ comp professionals.
If MASI is any indication, LASIE can expect to have a significant bump in participation. “We’ve doubled our membership and tripled attendance at our events,” Gibson said. “We’re now at 150 members, and before we were under 100 members.”
Gibson believes the general growth in membership, plus the increasing diversity of the members across the self-insurance industry and especially in healthcare, has made conference attendees more interested in the presentation content, which takes all year to develop.
“The most successful part of this year’s conference was the level of engagement in all of the meetings. Sometimes we have a ton of registrations and you’re wondering where everybody is when you actually get into the room,” Gibson said. “That wasn’t the case this year. We had no empty seats at the lunches and socials and the speakers had great crowds.”
As for next year, MASI will be celebrating its 20th conference, with surprises in store. “Since next year is our 20th, we’ll be spending some time appreciating where we are, looking forward, but also looking back. We want to honor the people that got us to this point, the influencers, and of course, our members,” Gibson explained. “No matter what happens after the election, it seems like we can expect some political changes to occur across this country, and particularly in the area of health care reform, we want to be ready to respond.”