Give Your Association’s Events a Competitive Edge

Traditionally members would join associations for learning opportunities and community connections, and association meetings and events are where they’d build those connections. The annual conference or general meeting is often the highlight of the association calendar. Yet, growth in the events market and new event technologies now means associations are competing against commercial events. Research from ASAE highlights the importance of events to association operations as they estimate on average meetings generate more than $700,000 USD in revenue annually for the associations that hold them. It’s essential that associations bring a competitive edge to their event operations to compete effectively with for-profit events. We’ve broken down three areas associations should consider to delight their members and attract new sign-ups in the current event market.

  1. 365-day Experience

The biggest differentiator between an association and a commercial competitor is the passionate membership base that supports your activities. Your members are a resource and can become champions of your events. It’s commonplace to hear about the importance of a promotion strategy when launching an event but really your promotion plan should just be a facet of the 365-day event experience. You want to drive engagement with your members before, during, and after the event, keeping the up the momentum of the new connections and learnings they take away.

Event technology such as an app can create a 365-day experience and open up a forum to your community of members. Guidebook’s features such as the interact feed act as a social wall where users can share questions, post pictures and engage in discussion. Native surveys in the app can capture data from your members and can be used to gather feedback post-event. Direct messaging within the app means that it’s easy for members to find the right connections they want to network with and they can engage in conversation.

  1. Leverage Sector Knowledge

Creating compelling content that interests members and touches on the hot topics of your industry is crucial for event success. As an association of members with a shared collective goal or interest, you can leverage your sector knowledge and membership base to understand the topics that are most appealing. Don’t be afraid to use your members to help decide what content should be top of the agenda at your next event.

Technology can be a useful tool for gaining insight into your membership’s favoured topics. Data gathered from within an event app can show the top 5 most visited schedule items and menu items. This information can be used to shape your next conference or meeting. Also, monitoring the interact feed within the app can present which topics are being raised and discussed by members. What were the key discussion points or sessions that stimulated replies and conversation? Last but not least, native surveys within Guidebook’s apps can be used to ask your members directly about the content they’d like to see. Members want to feel their voice is heard and asking the question directly to your membership base and taking action will contribute to a successful event.

  1. All Hands on Deck

Most association events are managed by a committee board which rotates every few years. The structure ensures that diverse voices within the association can provide new perspectives and inject creativity into the event. An all hands on deck approach means that every board member is contributing to the event planning. Strong leadership and a clear deadline-driven timeline are needed so that the board has direction to drive discussion. Typically, each board member has a particular area of interest or research and these reflect the interests of your membership base. Find balance between the differing voices on the board and create an event that’ll excite all members.

These 3 areas should help your association stand out against commercial competitors and create an event that is tailored to your member community. Your membership base is your greatest asset for your event and a mobile app is the best way to engage with them. Don’t be afraid to implement technology – it doesn’t require an IT team and months to put an app together. With Guidebook, you can create an app in four easy steps. Simply choose a template, select your features, fill it with content, and publish. Why not give your members the event experience they’ve been waiting for?

Want to hear more?

Guidebook has worked with over 600 associations since 2011 and has powered the apps for world-leading associations such as the YMCA, the Rotary Club, and the NUS. We’re passionate about helping associations leverage technology to truly engage their membership base.

You can find us at Gothenburg’s Association World Congress on 7-9th April 2019. Guidebook’s Billy Mclean will be hosting an expert briefing on the topic. If you’re heading to the show, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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