Archive for December, 2019

Three Trends to Boost Nondues Revenue in the New Year

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

As 2020 dawns, many associations are looking to make sure they have a steady influx of revenue streaming in. From focusing on customers to adding value, an expert shares three trends you should embrace this year.

If you’re the superstitious type, you might have eaten black-eyed peas or undertaken some other tradition purported to bring money in the new year. You may even have showed up at work (which, while not superstitious, is effective at bringing in money). If you’re looking to boost the revenue at your association, don’t rely on superstitions. (But, yes, you should show up at work.) While you’re there, lean into the top trends in nondues revenue for 2020 offered up by Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO at Avenue M Group:

Focus on Customers

The first trend represents a big ideological shift: focusing on customers, whether they’re members or not.

“For as long as I’ve worked in associations—20 years—people have always said membership is the heart and the lifeblood of the organization; It’s what everyone talks about,” Jacobs said. “I think there is going to be a pivotal shift, where you no longer think about membership as lifeblood. The real focus is outreach and customers.”

Jacobs said she is not undervaluing members, but rather acknowledging that associations serve people in addition to their members. This strategy is often lucrative because nonmembers pay more. Jacobs’ company did an analysis of sales for a large association, looking at purchases by members and nonmembers, and came to a startling conclusion: “If they had converted these people to members, they would have millions of dollars of lost revenue.”

It’s OK for customers to choose the association’s products, but not its membership. “The shift is, we don’t have to capture everyone as members,” Jacobs said. “It’s OK if membership stays small. For many organizations, if you look at their mission statement, it doesn’t have the word member in it. The mission is to advance the profession.”

Jacobs said she has noticed a trend among employers to not reimburse employees for membership fees, whereas they will pay for products that help employees improve. “Customers are just as valuable as members,” Jacobs said.

Focusing on all customers and your organization’s reach will help improve nondues revenue from other sources, such as corporate sponsors. “I know an association that has maybe 14,000 or 15,000 members, but when they talk about their reach, it is three or four times as strong,” Jacobs said. “They get people in the room who are important for networking in their industry, even if they don’t become members.”

Use Data

Data can help associations figure out which programs and services are growing and which are declining.

“You might have an audience segment that is retiring or graying,” Jacobs said. “They may be the largest user of something you have. Another segment may be really small, but that segment is growing.”

Even though the big segment may be spending money now, Jacobs said it’s important to see the writing on the wall and pitch to those growing segments accordingly. Customer or member journeys can be helpful by using data to guide customers to the next product they’ll need. “As they join or renew, they are given incentives to use other things we have,” Jacobs said. “People who used this are happy with or seeking these kinds of things.”

Show Value

Customers will spend money if they value the product associations are offering.

“Individuals [ask], does this create value for me?” Jacobs said. “Does this offer me something I can’t get anywhere else?”

Offering both online and in-person options for meetings will continue to trend. While some worried that providing online access would cannibalize sales for in-person seats, Jacobs said that generally isn’t the case. “People don’t choose an online meeting because they initially were doing the in-person one and this was cheaper,” she said. Instead, logistics meant they could never do the in-person training, but online made it feasible. “If you don’t offer the online opportunity, there is an entire audience whose needs aren’t being met,” Jacobs said.

She also noted that some associations are requiring nonmembers who take advantage of their offerings to subscribe. “A lot of organizations take member content and put that behind a member wall,” Jacobs said. “This is taking your free content that’s out there, and saying if you want access, you have to become a subscriber. That subscription can be free or charge a nominal fee. It’s a way to build your customer database.”

Once people are in the database, the association has an opportunity to show its value through the content it provides. Jacobs said the subscription models she has seen do not provide additional discounts or other perks reserved for members.

Which trends in nondues revenue does your association plan on tackling this year? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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A Last Look at Leadership in 2019

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Strategic thinking, bold moves, the end of narcissism, and a few other takeaways from a busy year.

Congratulations! If your association is in any way a reflection of larger economic trends, you probably had a pretty good year as a leader. The economy is generally doing well, so most organizations have been able to avoid belt-tightening with staff. There are heartening reports that associations have increasingly embraced strategic thinking. And if the old association model is becoming unsettled, there are also more ways than ever to connect and engage with members and stakeholders.

But, as ever, there’s still work to be done. Much of what I wrote about in 2019 for this blog revolved around the challenges and opportunities created by these upsides. Leaders may not be able to address every problem they face. But take a look at some of the themes that emerged for me, and see if there aren’t ideas for what your next move as a leader might be.

One of the weakest areas of leadership in every organization is the ability to define success with precision.

Staffers are looking for more reasons to engage. Association staffers do their best work when they feel successful—but they need leaders to clearly articulate what success looks like. “One of the weakest areas of leadership in every organization—and this is across industries, not just associations—is the ability to define success with precision,” consultant and author Jamie Notter told me in February. For some staffers, simply promoting them may not be enough, and it might be the wrong answer entirely. But you won’t go wrong by being as transparent as possible with staff about where your association is and how you’re meeting your goals. It’s impossible to overcommunicate, many CEOs say, especially when it comes to more disruptive changes.

Boards need to be pushed out of their comfort zones. The CEO doesn’t run an association’s board; indeed, it’s typically the board that conducts the CEO’s performance review. But CEOs are uniquely positioned to champion new ideas before the board, and it’s a role they should embrace. One of my favorite association stories of 2019 was the American Astronomical Society stepping up in a hurry to purchase Sky & Telescope magazine, a foundering publication that found new life through AAS. Making the move, with some expensive upfront costs, required some selling on the CEO’s part, but that effort was ultimately worth it.

Strategy is still a challenge. Many associations have dispensed with their outdated “leadership ladders,” where even eager volunteers find themselves waiting the better part of a decade to attain a board seat. But speeding the process has meant that more board members need better education about strategy, and CEOs can lead that education. And while more association execs and staffers are engaged in strategic planning, boards still need some help when it comes to strategic thinking.

Top-down leadership is out of style, if not antiquated. As New Power authors and ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition speakers Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans pointed out, the command-and-control model associations have used with members needs to give way to more inclusive, flexible, and collaborative relationships. That may have an impact on what leadership style is most effective with your stakeholders. Hard-charging extroverts and narcissists may need to take a lesson from servant leaders: Be the leader who doesn’t wield power so much as empowers others.

The needle still isn’t moving much on diversity. A report earlier this year found that while a solid majority of nonprofits say their boards should be more diverse, only about half have taken any real action to increase diversity. That “real action” will rely on a change in mindset: As one executive pointed out in Deloitte report on the lack of women board leaders, “without strong, proactive leadership from the board chair and nominating committee, some boards will continue to bring in people like themselves.” With D+I at the bottom of the list of priorities at associations, according to one recent report, it’s a conversation that still requires urgent attention.

Thanks for reading, and see you in 2020.

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Daily Buzz: Is Social Media Getting Less Social?

Daily Buzz: Is Social Media Getting Less Social?

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

New research shows that users are moving away from public social platforms. Also: revamping meetings in 2020.

It’s no surprise that social media is—well, social. But come next year, platforms might start to trend away from that, says Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes on Fast Company. His insight comes on the heels of the company’s annual Social Media Trends Report.

“Considering the controversies that have surrounded social networks of late, it’s no surprise to see that users are fleeing public platforms for the relative privacy of messaging apps and closed groups,” Holmes says.

In fact, 63 percent of people prefer sharing and talking about content in private channels, according to research from GlobalWebIndex. Holmes says this trend will only grow: “Expect to see private and one-to-one platforms continue to thrive in 2020,” such as Instagram’s newly launched Threads platform.

Another callout of Hootsuite’s report: the evolution of social media incentives. More recently, signature features, such as “likes,” have been criticized for creating larger problems.

“Algorithms to surface interesting updates end up prioritizing provocative and misleading news,” Holmes explains. “Metrics like followers and likes encourage mindless sharing and undercut meaningful engagement. A commitment to open dialogue gives free rein to bullies and trolls.”

Come 2020, Holmes says platforms will confront these issues. Instagram, for example, has already started testing hidden like counts.

“The motivation: Encourage users to engage with videos and photos on their own merits, rather than simply following the herd,” Holmes says.

Up Your Conference Culture

2020 tuneup: Six #marketing insights from our 2019 #B2BDreamTeam #eventprofs

— Event Marketer (@EventMarketer) December 20, 2019

Kicking off the next decade with a roster full of events? Make meetings memorable by re-evaluating conference culture, says Ojas Rege, chief product officer at One Concern, in an interview with Event Marketer.

“With the nontraditional events, it’s about thinking minute by minute, hour by hour, what’s the experience, what are the interactions, what do I do as a user, how do I flow through the space—not just where I sit and watch a presentation,” he explains. “If you give the audience something that lets them do their jobs better, they love it, and they value it, and they become loyal.”

Other Links of Note

Dealing with end-of-year stress? Forbes shares strategies to help you cope.

Make your website accessible with these six tips from Convince & Convert.

Once a member joins, it’s time to start on your retention efforts. MultiBriefs outlines five ways associations can create an inclusive environment and offer value from the start.

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Ideas for Making Your Conferences More Inclusive

Ideas for Making Your Conferences More Inclusive

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

You want to make sure every attendee has the best experience possible, and that may mean rethinking how you’ve done everything from registration to captioning. A look at three associations taking the lead on creating more inclusive meetings.

I know that you don’t need me to tell you about the importance of diversity and inclusion when it comes to all aspects of managing and running your associations. But recently I’ve come across a handful of examples of associations that have tried new initiatives to make sure their conferences are more inclusive. Here’s a look a three of them.

Registration Fee Restructuring

The Heart Rhythm Society’s Annual Scientific Sessions attracts more than 12,000 scientists, researchers, clinicians, and other innovators from around the world. Recognizing that it can be difficult for healthcare professionals with limited financial resources to attend, HRS decided to eliminate registration fees (which ranged from $1,180 to $2,475 in 2019, depending on registration type) for self-paying attendees from countries that the World Bank classifies as lower- and lower-middle income.

“They already have to pay airfare and hotel for four nights,” Germaine Schaefer, senior director, meeting operations, told Convene magazine back in August. “If they’re making those investments, we want to do what we can to help lower additional expenses.”

According to HRS, the strategy is all about spreading education to developing countries to improve patient care. “Cost should not be the barrier,” Schaefer said.

HRS isn’t the only association to reconsider its registration fee structure as a way to make its conference more inclusive. In 2018, the Association for Jewish Studies introduced a new fee schedule, where attendees who earn less pay less to attend the conference than individuals who earn more.

Family Friendly

At its 2019 Annual Meeting in Lisbon, the International Society of Political Psychology did a number of things to show that it was invested in supporting families who would be in attendance. For example, those who submitted proposals to present could make scheduling requests, which ISPP did its best to accommodate.

In addition, when it came time to register, family members and children could register for free. “We knew that they would only be present for a reception or two and perhaps the talk by their parent, spouse, etc., who was actually there to attend the event,” wrote ISPP Executive Director Severine Bennett for Smart Meetings.

Once onsite, ISPP had name badge ribbons for all family members, as well as goody bags filled with items like stickers, crayons, and coloring books for the kids. “If you can find just a little bit in your budget for these types of things—to recognize that your attendees have families and that you, as an organization, are making efforts to accommodate and include them and make them feel special—you will likely reap rewards of loyal members and repeat conference attendees,” Bennett wrote.

Listening Made Easier

A few years ago, EDUCAUSE began noticing that more of its 8,000-plus annual conference attendees were asking for things that would help them better hear speakers. “We do provide sign language interpreters when needed, but [some attendees] are in an in-between world,” Director of Conferences and Events Beth Croll, CMP, recently told Convene. “A lot of our audience is focused on the teaching/learning environment, so we wanted to showcase something that would help all learners.”

At its October 2019 conference, EDUCAUSE introduced Wordly. By connecting the speaker’s microphone to a mobile device running Wordly’s presenter app, the cloud-based software automatically translates their words into 15 languages. Attendees could then use their mobile device to access the website, where they could listen to the real-time translation or read a transcript in whatever language they preferred.

What strategies have you implemented to ensure that your conferences are welcoming to everyone? Tell us about it in the comments.

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“Disrupt” Your Meeting to Improve Attendee Productivity

“Disrupt” Your Meeting to Improve Attendee Productivity

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Karen Malone of HIMSS talks about how she constantly thinks about innovation and disruption, including with her own staff.

To create innovative and interactive meetings, planners around the nation are raising the bar on productivity and capitalizing on attendee experience. In Orlando, seven planners have exceeded in this realm, setting the bar high for both their peers and the industry. In this series, we’ll learn how these planners are driving change, creating memorable events and inspiring their attendees at each and every meeting.

Meet our second “Planner of Productivity”: Karen Malone, vice president of meetings and sales of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, better known as HIMSS, headquartered in Chicago. Malone oversees the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition in Orlando every two years. The next event will be in Orlando March 9–13, 2020. The conference brings together nearly 45,000 professionals from 90+ countries for education, innovation and collaboration.

Visit Orlando: How do you define innovation and what are you doing to infuse this into the meetings you plan?

Karen Malone: Innovation can be so many things, but a lot of it is around disruption and change, which people are often very uncomfortable with. But given the industry we’re in—technology and health care—it’s just inevitable the amount of innovation that happens and needs to continue to happen to be able to deliver the best care and get the best outcomes. We try to lead by example throughout the conference. We showcase innovation in many different places. We have an Innovation Live area on our exhibit floor that has accelerators and incubators in it and a lot of companies such as startups that are demonstrating innovative solutions. .

We have another area on our exhibit floor called the Health Care of the Future Pavilion, which showcases many innovative solutions that are bleeding-edge—not even quite on the market yet. We also showcase many innovative companies that have health care solutions—disruptive companies that you wouldn’t even necessarily associate with health care like Google and Amazon and Lyft and Comcast.

Orlando’s really trying to become more of a mega city around medical technology. They have Lake Nona Medical City. We’ve worked with their CIO; about four or five years ago we did a tour with them and we’ve been working with them every year since. We do tours, and we engage them as speakers in our conference program because they are very innovative.

VO: How have such innovative approaches allowed for greater productivity in meetings?

KM: Here’s one of the things I do with my staff: The team that is responsible for logistics management—I rotate their job every year for three years. One year one person might be responsible for all convention center logistics and another person is responsible for all events in food and beverage, special events planning. And the other is responsible for housing and transportation. And then the next year they rotate and do one of the other areas, and then the next year they rotate again. I do that to a) develop them, b) keep them challenged and c) it helps us should we have any turnover; we have people who can jump right in.

VO: Taking advantage of smart, flexible meeting space is one of the largest trends this year. How have you utilized this for greater productivity?

KM: The Tangerine Ballroom in the West Building in the Orlando convention center I would call flexible space. It can be a beautiful ballroom; it can be an exhibit hall; it can be breakout space for education sessions; it can be a very large networking area; it can be a reception venue. We definitely look to use spaces like that in all kinds of ways to maximize our program.

In the Valencia Ballroom in the West Building last year we had keynote sessions; then I intentionally scheduled the keynote sessions dark for a few days so we could turn it over to a Learning Lounge. We created a big food court and park in the foyer area. We called it our HIMSS Park. We set up games and picnic tables; we did a happy hour. We had putt-putt golf. We worked with our decorator to design food truck facades for the catering area. Then we turned it back over again later in the week so we could run some more keynote sessions. We always look at how we can multipurpose space.

VO: What advice would you give to peers about keeping up with consumer expectations? How should they not only manage this, but continuously surprise and delight attendees?

KM: Talk to your peers, see what they’re doing. We are one another’s best resources. And go visit other shows. All my staff are required to go visit other shows—at least one, if not two, a year, even overseas. Get some ideas from them, whether they’re association shows or corporate shows. I think there’s so many things we can learn from corporate shows. Financially, their budgets are often greater than ours, but there’s still some great takeaways.

And look at your program as zero based every year. Something we hate at our organization is when folks say, “Well, we’ve always done it that way.” That’s just not acceptable.

VO: Describe a few of the initiatives you’ve spearheaded—no matter how large or small—to improve the attendee experience.

KM: We have new leadership at our association with the mindset of greater globalization. The global conference used to be focused more on the North American market, and we realized this is such a great asset to the organization that we need to use it more as the magnet worldwide. There’s so much for people in the United States to learn from people abroad and vice versa. So, we’ve worked very hard over the last few years to really integrate global representation for our meeting on our education committee, global representatives in our programming, our curriculum. Also, on our exhibit floor; we’ve got 10 or 12 international pavilions.

VO: When thinking about unique experiences in Orlando, which offsite location do you prefer: Café Tu Tu Tango? Cuba Libre? ICON Park?

KM: I’ve been to all three, and they’re all terrific. Café Tu Tu’s really cool, and so’s Cuba Libre. We’ve done some private events at all of those, I believe, and I know our exhibitors have.

This article has been provided by Visit Orlando.

When it comes to productivity, innovation and unique attendee experience, Orlando usually tops the list. With fantastical backdrops you won’t find anywhere else, only Orlando can offer incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences that your attendees will be talking about for years to come. Tapping into the heritage of creative thinking from its first-rate theme parks, Orlando offers a wide range of creative resources to help your transform your meeting or event. From unique team building activities, exclusive dine-around options to immersive private events inside its world-renowned theme parks complete with a fire-breathing dragon, you are sure to wow your group in Orlando. Discover the many resources available to you to help make your next meeting or event unforgettable at

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