Opportunities to promote networking and learning have always been at the core of an effective association events management. Bringing the community together and finding the right content is an important role for any organisation that wishes to help their members advance in their professional careers or to help spread and share best practice. Therefore for most associations the question around events is a simple one: why shouldn’t their association run events? However in an over saturated industry (have you heard anyone complain about the lack of events on offer?) and with new forms of content delivery challenging more traditional means there are other more important questions for associations to ask:

– How can we deliver real value from our events?

– What are the right events to run?

– How do we ensure our events drive membership to our association?

How value has changed

Delegates attending conferences used to be happy with picking up a few tips from each speaker, being talked to by various industry journeymen, catching up with an old friend or two and trusting in serendipity to find someone who could actually help them in their job. And those involved in association events management – event organisers – used to be happy if delegates left without complaining! But was this ever really adding value to attendance? Perhaps the decline in association event attendance which has continued for the last few years  is already answering the question around value.

A majority of association delegates are demanding more from their events and associations must look at exactly what value they are delivering. If your association events management process is using tired and testing formats you will have value issues. If you are still charging big fees and not looking to engage delegates and speakers – before and after – as well as have more meaningful connections during the event, the decline will continue. Maybe it is time to consider a new association events management strategy?

What are the right events to run?

I often find that most associations are not running the right events. For example too often associations ask:

“what content will fill the set duration of their annual conference?”

What associations should be doing is looking at what topics the members want to be addressed and then delivering the formats that work. I have seen bloated conferences crammed full with content as associations have stuck rigidly to ‘one day’. I’ve also seen sparse programmes, all too obvious to the trained eye, being spread out to fill the traditional length of the two or three day annual conference. 

It is more important than ever to let the content decide the duration of your association annual conference and to allow your members an input into the content. Just because an event has been well attended in the past does not mean it is still the right event to run.

How do you ensure your events drive association membership?

Being close to your audience is a key USP for association events. Providing a significant discount for member attendance, and running member only events, are choice ways to ensure the time and effort placed in organising events pays a dividend in terms of member retention and recruitment. Your events should show all that is great about your association and this should be at the heart of your association events management strategy.

Before you come up with the answers you have to start with the right questions. Drop me a note if you think we can help with either the questions or the answers.

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Published On: January 29th, 2012 / Categories: Latest News / Tags: , , , /