Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Member Dues

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Every association manages dues a little differently—and there’s much to learn from the perspective of other organizations. Check out some smart thinking in the archives.

It admittedly comes with the territory, but associations think a lot about member dues—how to collect them, how to increase them, and how to give members a break during tough times.

And the past year and a half has brought this thinking into sharp relief.

With that in mind, here are some noteworthy pieces from the archives that will get you thinking about how and when to raise your member dues:

‌Focus on Lowering Expenses Rather Than Raising Membership Dues. When members are financially stressed, raising dues can strain loyalty. This roundup offers ideas for one alternative—cutting expenses. Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of Avenue M Group, compares the process to managing your personal costs. “Keep your members and figure out other strategies to lower expenses, much as you would do with your own household budget,” she says.

Should You Increase Membership Dues? This piece takes on dues increases through the eyes of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, which has chosen not to raise dues during the pandemic. “Our first instinct when the pandemic hit was to take as much stress off institutions as we could to try and maintain as much retention as we could,” says Ashley Hodak Sullivan, NACUA’s director of membership and marketing.

Member Dues Installment Options Are a Win-Win. If your association has been thinking about installment options, read this piece highlighting the potential of that approach and noting its growth within the association sector. “It allows them a little bit of room to breathe,” says Melody Jordan-Carr, vice president of membership at the American Trucking Associations, a group that offers its members installment options.

Rules of Engagement: When to Offer Dues Waivers? Hardships happen—and not just during the pandemic. This piece discusses strategies associations can use for deciding when to offer hardship waivers to their members. “It’s up to the association and membership staff to kind of feel it out,” says John Lingerfelt, senior manager of membership at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Avoid Sticker Shock With Gradual Dues Increases. It can be tempting to increase dues amid a shortfall, but doing it the wrong way can leave members feeling disappointed in you. This piece highlights the challenges the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology faced when it implemented a sudden 6 percent increase to its membership dues—leading to a cap on future dues increases.

 

 

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Improving Communication—and Culture—From a Distance

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Remote work can make it more difficult to share what your organization’s culture is. That calls for a more sophisticated approach to communication.

There’s a familiar line in the business world that says culture is “the way we do things around here.” Reading a couple of recent studies around leadership in the pandemic era, I think that line ought to be more specific: Culture is be the way we communicate how we do things around here.

Teams must be far more intentional with how and when they engage with one another.

In a remote or hybrid environment, the risks of being misunderstood or wrongly coordinated intensify. Zoom calls and email flatten everything to pixels, making it more difficult to discern what’s a high priority or not. That’s a point that’s made in State of Association Workplaces Post-Pandemic Survey [PDF], released last week by Achurch Consulting and Association Trends. Based on the responses of 354 association leaders and decision-makers surveyed last May, the study found that many associations are still uncomfortable when it comes to transitioning from in-person work.

One piece of evidence of that is the survey’s finding that 70 percent of respondents say they’re concerned that there are now “fewer opportunities for organic communication and relationships.” Similarly, 62 percent cited concerns about a “change in workplace culture/morale.”

These two issues, the study’s authors conclude, are connected. “In the remote environment, communication becomes exponentially more important, and teams must be far more intentional with how and when they engage with one another,” says the report. “With a myriad of new communication tools and seemingly 24/7 accessibility of remote teammates, it is all too easy to interrupt employees’ work time or invade their personal hours regularly and without awareness.”

Culture is made—or undone—in those interruptions and invasions. And moreover, a lack of intentionality can sow confusion about what needs to be prioritized. One valuable recommendation the report makes is to broaden the palette of communication tools that an organization uses. Email can make everything seem important (or not), so using IM tools like Slack for quick exchanges or Microsoft Teams for collaborations can help workers keep communications in the proper context.

But technological tools, of course, aren’t solutions in themselves. According to the report, leaders in general, and middle managers in particular, need better training on how to cultivate relationships with their employees and better convey which messages matter most. “Middle managers are the crux of communication and workflow within a team,” they write. “In the remote environment, their role becomes even more critical as the culture carriers of an organization.”

Training on those points have been spotty, according to the study: 56 percent of respondents say they’ve received training on communications in a remote-work environment, and only 36 percent on “social connectedness and culture.”

The unique circumstances of the pandemic have exacerbated these issues—not only is the work environment different now, so are the particular pressures organizations face in terms of meetings, education, and other ways of serving members. The problem is equally pronounced in the corporate world: A recent CEO survey by the leadership consulting firm EgonZehnder [PDF] found that “just 44 percent of CEOs said they were fully aligned with their teams, and even fewer said the same about their boards.”

With that level of disconnect, the need to properly communicate the importance of the work you do—and helping teams do the same—becomes all the more urgent.

What does your organization do to clarify communication remotely? Share your experiences in the comments.

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Money & Business Pro Tip: Build an Infrastructure for Virtual Volunteering

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More volunteers are showing up virtually—and the best way to help build your forces might be by leveraging messaging platforms your members already use.

Your volunteer management has likely changed a lot since the start of COVID-19. And so have your volunteers, who have come to embrace giving their services in virtual settings.

A recent Fidelity Charitable report found that 30 percent of survey respondents engaged in virtual volunteering during the pandemic, a sharp increase from 17 percent before the pandemic.

This increasing interest in virtual volunteering could be a major opportunity for your association—but only if you figure out ways to build an effective infrastructure that supports its volunteers. One place to start? Leverage your existing channels.

What’s the Strategy?

With virtual volunteering on the rise, the best way to get people on board is to take advantage of the communities you already have.

One place to look is social media. By leveraging your existing audience, you can make your members aware of volunteer opportunities so that they can take part, no matter how big or how small the endeavor.

An effective strategy, says Addison Waters, a contributor to the Soapbox Engage blog, is to use your social media page to highlight successful volunteers.

“Use your social media pages to highlight your volunteers in action, along with their specific accomplishments,” Waters writes. “This can provide the reassurance that first-time volunteers need to make the leap and sign up for an opportunity.”

Your can also turn to your member email list or internal member community to recruit new volunteers.

Why Is It Effective?

Remote volunteering can prove a useful way to help complete important organizational tasks while also bringing additional value to members.

Wesley Carr, director of stakeholder engagement at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society, noted earlier this year that it was important to structure the group’s remote volunteer programs in a way that offered benefits to everyone.

“We are trying to focus on what is a meaningful experience to a volunteer,” Carr said. “We’re not starting with, ‘What can the volunteer do for us?’ but, ‘What can we do for them?’”

And by mixing it with platform-driven messaging, you can potentially add value through strategies such as offering increased volunteer recognition.

What’s the Potential?

Amplifying remote volunteering opportunities on your existing channels can boost your messaging, mentoring, and advocacy game.

The National Restaurant Association, for example, leaned on grassroots engagement during the early months of the pandemic to help promote its messaging in a tangible way that ensured restaurants got the support they needed from legislators.

“Battling COVID, especially in March, a lot of them happened to be in front of their computer because restaurants were closed, and so there was a little more time for advocacy,”  said Mike Whatley, vice president of state and local affairs for the National Restaurant Association, of the efforts last year.

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Breaking Through the Noise: Creating Content That Connects

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Sarah Sain, CAE, Director of Content for Naylor Association Solutions, offers simple strategies to overcome common content struggles.

Content creation and distribution is a powerful means of driving traffic and increasing member engagement for associations. But for some association professionals, it can also be a great source of frustration.

In the 2021 Association Communications Benchmarking Report, which surveyed nearly 500 leaders of North American trade associations, professional societies and association management companies, half of the respondents said they needed to improve their content strategy, and more than half felt that their content and communication department was understaffed.

“The amount of content and the possibilities for delivery platforms has grown exponentially in the past 10 years since we started the Benchmarking Report,” says Sarah Sain, CAE, Director of Content for Naylor Association Solutions. “All of these choices leave some associations feeling overwhelmed — you want to do a little bit of everything, but you only have a few staff members and you just can’t tackle everything.” But here’s the good news: You don’t have to.

The key to a successful content strategy is not doing everything on every platform, Sain notes. “It’s really about having an understanding of your members’ consumption habits, so that you can focus on the format and the communication vehicles that are going to have the most relevance for them.”

Sain says that savvy content marketers use a variety of methods to determine which platforms will have the most impact. “Utilizing member surveys, focus groups and looking at data like open rates of emails and newsletters can give a very clear picture of what your association responds to best. This way you can prevent your team—or yourself—from getting stretched too thin.”

The truth is that most associations produce a tremendous amount of content—sometimes without realizing it. “You can take one piece of content, such as a recorded webinar, and break it down in so many ways,” says Sain. “You can create multiple articles from the transcript, you can break out quotes for social media posts, you can use the audio as a podcast. There are many ways to expand your reach without having to start from scratch with each piece of content.”

And for small association teams, an untapped resource for content is members themselves. “Your member base is a wealth of knowledge that can help create articles and videos,” advises Sain. “And that not only provides great information, it really elevates that member, too, by showcasing them as a thought leader in the industry.”

Content touches every aspect of an association, and Sain has seen that successful communication teams remember everything they put out there has a specific goal. “If the goal is to increase registrations for an event, the content needs to go deeper than just saying ‘Here’s a link to sign up.’ It should explain what they are going to learn, who they will meet when they’re there, why their attendance matters—both for them professionally and for their association. Strong content provides that ‘why’ for members.”

In a world where there is so much information constantly coming at us from all directions, many associations feel like they are getting drowned out. Seven in 10 of respondents of the 2021 Association Communications Benchmarking Report believe members are “too busy” or “have too many competing options” to invest time with their content.

This is where Sain says associations need to remember who they are and what their mission is: “Even though there are competing options out there, the important thing for associations to remember is that they are a trusted source, and they should think of themselves that way. In a world where it’s hard for people to understand where to go to get accurate information, associations have to remember that they are that gold standard of reliable information for their members.”


Naylor Association Solutions provides innovative association tools and services for strengthening member engagement and increasing non-dues revenue. Our offerings include member communications, management of live and online meetings and events, online career centers, Association Management Software (AMS) and Member Data Platform (MDP), full-service association management and online learning. A strategic partner to professional and trade associations in the U.S. and Canada, Naylor serves more than 1,700 associations across 80+ industries. For more information, visit https://www.naylor.com.

 

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Why Giving Members a Space to Build Community Is Essential

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Associations became a lifeline for members when they needed it most. Having a place to build and foster relationships highlighted the necessity of communities. Three association professionals share their stories and lessons learned in crisis—and beyond.

A panel of membership experts recently convened on a webinar, “Re-Booting the Membership Experience,” hosted by ExecConnect and the New York Society of Association Executives, to discuss how their organizations reacted after the start of the pandemic to deliver value to their members and—more importantly—what’s still working.

Keep Delight Alive

When its whole sector shut down in March 2020, speed, proximity to its members, and understanding what they were going through was a main priority, said Stephanie McAlaine, executive director at the Wharton Private Equity & Venture Capital Association. Like many associations at the time, Wharton PE/VC had to drive the value of membership and respond quickly to requests from members on how to handle the multiple challenges they faced.

Wharton PE/VC quickly put together a weekly, 12-part series called “What’s Happening Now” to help members navigate what the mergers and acquisitions markets were doing. Members logged in from all over the country, which highlighted the benefits of a virtual environment that kept members connected with each other and the organization at a critical time.

“Relationships matter so much,” McAlaine said. “In our industry, you don’t do a multimillion-dollar deal with someone that you don’t trust, and you don’t know.”

But one webinar series does not solve everything. The reality is, McLaine’s team had to tweak the model about every two to three months so they could stay current with changes. The market is changing so rapidly and “so is what people expect and demand from you, and what will delight them,” she said. “That amazing series you delivered in March might not be as amazing in June.” So, Wharton PE/VC has continued to evolve, stay close to members, and listen to keep the offerings relevant. “It’s hard and you have to be nimble,” McAlaine said.

Silver Linings Playbook

The Association of National Advertisers also switched on a dime to virtual, including its conferences. ANA will host its signature Masters of Marketing Conference in-person and virtually this year, but last year, it was all virtual. ANA usually gets 3,000 in-person attendees but garnered 6,000 participants last year. “It was incredible, it doubled,” said Pamela Wees, CAE, ANA’s director of membership.

What the group learned—the “silver linings playbook,” as Wees calls it—is that for most of its conferences only a senior person was approved to attend. But in a virtual space, ANA was able to offer a virtual corporate package, which meant many junior and middle-management participants were able to attend who never would have been approved to go before the pandemic.

Now, when everyone is talking about how to recruit and keep good talent, allowing that access for those participants might encourage them to stay in the profession or with a company, Wees said. It lowers financial and logistical barriers and increases access to resources for a broader swath of existing and potential members.

Shelter in the Storm

With many archivists losing their jobs during the pandemic, the Society of American Archivists reached out to its membership to create a fundraising program for members to assist each other, said SAA Executive Director Jacqualine Price Osafo, CAE. The program offered members $1,000, and 185 members accessed the funds. “The community came together to support the membership,” she said. “We created a platform, a space for them.” The platform allowed members to show up for each other and help them through hard times.

These stories illuminate the “power that our organizations have as a collective community to provide the individual connections and relationships that allow our members to find one another in times of need,” said panelist Lowell Aplebaum, FASAE, CAE, CEO and strategy catalyst at Vista Cova. Those platforms help build relationships that are often deeper and more meaningful than just engaging through programs, products, and services.

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The Documents Groups Are Using to Ease the Transition to In-Person Gatherings

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Associations are trying to be thoughtful about policies for in-person events as they start anew. Here are a few strategies organizations are using.

In February 2020, few meeting planners were thinking about things like tracking proof of vaccination. But as associations tiptoe back into face-to-face gatherings, planners are having to address questions about policies that will make the return safe for all. Read on for a few approaches organizations are using to firm up their policies ahead of their in-person meetings.

Duty of Care Statements

Some associations are creating a duty of care statement, which lays out an association’s legal obligations to members.This policy approach is formal in nature, and clearly defines what an association will do for its members.

One example of this kind of document comes from the American Association of Airport Executives, which built a duty of care statement for its July 2021 annual meeting.The statement breaks down AAAE’s plan to ensure the organization will do what it can to take care of attendees, while making it clear that this responsibility is shared with attendees:

However, the responsibility for a safe and healthy event environment is shared among the event organizers, event venues, and event attendees. Towards this end, all conference attendees are expected to also comply with all applicable requirements imposed by federal, state, or local health authorities for the locality in which the conference is taking place, and in addition to our code of conduct, they are expected to adhere to and abide by the safety precautions AAAE has implemented to protect against the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing where applicable, wearing a digital contact tracing device, personal hygiene and hand sanitization, self-monitoring and self-reporting.

Health and Safety Protocols

Other associations lean on a less formal approach to pandemic planning, gathering basic safety and health protocols that set expectations for attendees and the association alike.

Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute, says that the association has taken an approach that is framed by the idea that COVID-19 may never truly disappear.

“We have to learn to live, interact, and meet as COVID exists in a way that is comfortable for those people who are comfortable meeting in person, while providing virtual opportunities for members who choose not to attend,” Morrison tells Associations Now via email. ”As we always say, ‘You have to meet your members where they are.’”

Reflecting this philosophy, the association and its board built a safety and wellness protocol that sets base guidelines for its events, including daily temperature checks (tracked by wristbands), spread-out seating, and mask rules for food service employees. Attendees are not required to wear masks, but they’ve been made available as desired.

Morrison says that the goal of the policies is to heighten the comfort level for attending in person while minimizing risks from COVID-19.

“So far we have hosted four meetings in 2021 without incident and have seen an excitement among members that our meetings are back,” he adds.

COVID-19 Waivers

One other approach to consider as hybrid events ramp up is a waiver for COVID-19 that legally protects the organization while giving attendees the opportunity to meet in person.

The Western Arts Alliance returned to in-person events with its annual meeting last month, which featured a hybrid element. WAA used a variety of tactics to manage COVID-19 risk, one of which involved a liability waiver stating that attendees agreed to assume the risk of exposure by attending an in-person event.

The association’s executive director, Tim Wilson, tells Associations Now via email that the waiver was just one arm of WAA’s approach to the pandemic, which was ramped up given the Delta variant’s increased virality. Wilson noted that attendees were required to be vaccinated, and that masks were required during the event.

After the event, the association asked attendees to report any signs of exposure (none have been received as of press time). “The board and staff approached the event prepared to do anything we could to protect our attendees, staff, volunteers, and hotel personnel—as well as the organization,” Wilson says.

The association made other adjustments, including limiting indoor capacity and allowing those who no longer wanted to attend in person to switch to the virtual event, no questions asked, with a partial refund to cover the cost differences between the two.

“In our view, having a liability waiver was just part of that package. It let attendees know that we, as the organizer, recognized the risk in participating,” Wilson says. “And while we understand that it can be difficult to enforce a liability waiver, often, the act of simply signing one can be enough to deter a claim.”

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Technology Pro Tip: Ramp Up Quickly With No-Code Frameworks

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Bringing in software that can help nontechnical employees build websites or apps could stretch your association’s ability to experiment on the fly.

If your association doesn’t have a dedicated web development or design team, launching a new initiative might feel difficult, if not impossible, because of the costs and resources involved.

But no-code tools, a rising trend in the tech world, carry potential for associations looking to test an idea before making a big investment. You might just find that they’re what you need to bridge the gap.

What’s the Strategy?

No-code tools have technically existed since the days when Macintoshes had built-in CRT monitors, but they’ve become increasingly powerful in recent years, enabling fast building even by users who don’t have traditional programming skills.

With the rising popularity of application programming interfaces (APIs), these tools have matured in function and can now integrate with existing tools associations use, such as association management systems.

No-code tools vary in complexity—Bubble.io, for example, allows in-depth mobile applications to be built without programming, while Carrd specializes in single-page websites that could be used to promote an event or sell a product. And Webflow makes it possible for designers to build sites without having to touch HTML (though if they want to get their hands dirty in the code, they can).

Generally these tools are sold as proprietary software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, which means they’ll come with a monthly or yearly bill. But they could still be significantly cheaper than a development resource.

Why Is It Effective?

It could save a lot of money, enabling applications to be built and managed by less-technical employees than a custom solution might allow.

“No-code software is suitable for use by nontechnical businesspeople, sometimes known as ‘citizen developers,’” Harvard Business Review contributors Chris Johannessen and Tom Davenport recently wrote of the trend. “For many companies, this helps them digitize and automate tasks and processes faster than trying to hire and onboard hard-to-source development talent.”

(Johannessen and Davenport did warn, however, that no-code may require resources from the IT department to support development.)

What’s the Potential?

It’s often said that emerging technologies are best implemented in areas that aren’t your primary discipline, and no-code tools could make it possible to work on those secondary initiatives. No-code tools let your association try out new endeavors with a relatively low level of risk, giving creative team members who may have strong ideas but less technical know-how what they need to try out something new. It could even stretch out the reach of an existing development resource.

“We’ve seen organizations where one system developer supports ten or more citizen developers,” Johannessen and Davenport wrote.

It won’t be enough to replace larger development tasks—you may still need to outsource development of your main website—but it could help put your experiments within reach.

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A Successful Rebrand Better Reflects Current and Future Members

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With an eye on attracting a new generation of members and more effectively representing existing ones, the Massachusetts Society of CPAs updated its acronym and logo. Getting stakeholder buy-in and other strategies helped the process go off without a hitch.

Looking to make itself more relevant to a younger generation of CPAs and set itself apart from other groups with a similar acronym, the Massachusetts Society of CPAs (previously MSCPA) recently launched its new acronym, MassCPAs, and logo.

MassCPAs has put a lot of energy into engaging with high school and college students so they are attracted to the CPA profession at an early age. “With new generations of CPAs entering the profession, we thought now was a good time to refresh our look and make sure we can continue to grow and evolve while we’re bringing these new up-and-coming CPAs into our profession,” said Elizabeth Emanuelson, MassCPAs’ senior director of communications.

Buy-In Is Key

MassCPAs works to get its members in the press to promote the CPA brand, but using the old acronym was confusing because other groups had the same one, like Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other state CPA societies. MassCPAs worked with a branding company to make the change but also realized, “It can’t be on us to make this change,” Emanuelson said.

So, the group gathered key stakeholders, including members, the board, and committee members who represent various demographics within its membership to participate in focus groups and surveys. They presented several ideas to them and asked them to vote on the ones they liked the best. “It was a little bit scary because we’ve always been MSCPA,” Emanuelson said. “Looping in those key stakeholders from the beginning and having them be a part of the process reassured us we were making the right decision.”

A Modern Visual Identity

Members liked that the new brand made it easier to immediately understand what MassCPAs is and what it represents. They also liked the new logo’s “M” graphic, which can be animated, making the brand more visible on social media platforms where future generations of CPAs are interacting online.

The new visual identity is modern and better represents who MassCPAs is, Emanuelson said, which is helpful as the group continues to build a robust and diverse accounting pipeline of future leaders. “Our profession—all professions—are evolving,” she said. “It’s on us to make sure that we are also evolving and continuing to develop programs to help our members grow, so we can continue to attract the best and the brightest to the profession.”

While changes like this can sometimes provoke pushback from stakeholders, that didn’t happen this time. Making it clear from the beginning that they weren’t changing the full name of the organization and that it was just a change to the acronym and logo helped. “Making sure we were transparent and getting buy-in from key stakeholders was huge for our success,” Emanuelson said.

Getting advice from other associations and state CPA societies that had rebranded was also important. The groups shared with Emanuelson their own rebrand communications, what worked and what didn’t on their own campaigns, and gave her candid feedback.

The new brand increases MassCPAs relevance for future generations of CPAs and is a better reflection of the people it represents. “Now we look as progressive as our organization truly is,” Emanuelson said.

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Make Meetings Meaningful Again Through Sustainable Practices

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Sustainable initiatives are at the forefront of meeting planners’ minds. Give back to the community and the environment to create a meaningful experience for attendees.

Given the events of the past year, meeting planners and travelers have become more conscious of our impact on the world. As planners and their clients adopt more socially-conscious mindsets, it’s important to incorporate sustainable tourism practices to provide meaningful experiences for attendees.

PromoLeaf survey of event attendees conducted by Censuswide found that 85 percent of respondents prefer or strongly prefer attending conferences with sustainable practices. And, according to Skift, 58 percent of consumers say that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to think more about the environment. As sustainable initiatives come to the forefront, it’s important to feature them while maximizing your resources and elevating your events.

Environment-friendly meetings:

Make your meeting/event as climate-friendly as possible. Many venues and hotels are beginning to provide more eco-friendly practices to attract eco-conscious meeting planners. Choose venues and lodging options that have sustainable practices in place (recycling, limited water waste, etc.), reduced carbon footprint initiatives and/or are LEED-certified. You can also go “paperless” by using apps and different forms of technology during an event.

Leave the community better off than when you arrived:

Incorporate excursions/team building/programming that encourages responsible travel and sustainable tourism. Examples include going into a community to rebuild a playground or providing your attendees with an authentic farm-to-table dinner experience with homegrown/sustainable ingredients. Another example is participating in “voluntourism” activities, such as working at a food pantry or with another non-profit that allows attendees to get involved with the community while they are visiting.

A study by Destination Analysis revealed that nearly 43 percent of travelers say that climate change has already impacted their travel decision-making in the last five years, and 21.5 percent say that climate change will have a significant impact on their travel in the years to come. Incorporating sustainable practices into MICE tourism will help bring us closer together, create empathy/meaningful experiences and involve social stakeholders in professional meetings. Working toward this will make any destination appealing for sustainable MICE travel.


Discover Puerto Rico is a not-for-profit destination marketing organization (DMO) whose mission is to make Puerto Rico visible to the world as a premier travel destination by collaboratively promoting the island’s diversity and uniqueness for leisure and business travel and events. The Puerto Rico Convention Center features more than 20,000 solar panels and programmable LED lighting, producing approximately 750,000KWhr/Month, which is equivalent to CO2 produced by 8,770 trees grown for 10 years.

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Leadership Pro Tip: Write a Vision Statement for Your Remote Team

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If your employees are struggling to see your organization’s purpose, a vision statement can help you clarify. Just don’t make it too pie-in-the-sky.

A remote workforce and a hot job market make a tough combination for employers who want their team to feel connected and engaged—and motivated to stay rather than look for greener pastures elsewhere. It’s especially tough if your employees regularly complain that your organization has no “North Star,” as the Harvard Business Review recently put it

Now is a good time to refocus on the North Star on your horizon.  

What’s the Strategy?

A vision statement, a document stating what your organization stands for and what it represents, is an important tool for guiding your team. And the team can even take part in the process of shaping it. Virtual Vocations recommends a five-step process that starts with a virtual team meeting in which everyone discusses what motivates them and their work.

The statement needs to be clear, short, and realistic. “While your team is working remotely, they need to be reminded from time to time about the business goal. Therefore, a one-sentence and concise team vision statement will remind them what they are working for,” the site’s Jessica Fender writes.

“Creating a clear and optimistic vision statement is the best thing you can do for your team,” she says.

Why Is It Effective?

The most effective statements are grounded in realism. Writing in HBR, CEO coach Sabina Nawaz warns that a statement that is too broad or is unclear about how the team can turn it into day-to-day action won’t benefit anyone. 

“Some vision and strategy statements are at a high, 50,000-foot-view level. They might sound good but leave too much to the imagination of an employee operating lower to the ground, trying to make a connection between their day job and the purported purpose of the organization,” Nawaz writes. “Make sure the message is adapted for delivery at all levels of the organization. When someone completes a project, underscore how their work ties to the big picture.”

What’s the Potential?

Fender says the vision statement represents the now, but it should be built to last.

“While it is important to keep your team focused and get quick results, you should also think about the future,” she writes. “Before sending the vision statement to the team, you should consider future goals.”

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