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Sector and AuSAE News

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  • 01 Oct 2020 8:54 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    In today’s world, the power of place and connectivity are more important than ever. While we appreciate current border restrictions mean many National Associations are needing to meet virtually at this time, we’re here to help facilitate bringing your local SA delegate contingent together, enabling them to meet face-to-face and discuss ideas expressed on virtual platforms in a COVID Safe meeting environment.

    Current COVID-19 regulations here in South Australia allow us to host live, face-to-face meetings. By acting as a local satellite hub for South Australian delegates to join your national meetings, we can help them continue the conversation and share knowledge, as well as create a sense of connectivity during what has been a very unusual year for us all. As a satellite meeting location, our dedicated in-house AV team can help create a link to your virtual National Association Meeting, so those in attendance can view on the big screen. They’ll feel the immediate power of place.

    To help you engage with your SA membership, we’d be pleased to provide you with:

    • A complimentary meeting room for events held before 31 December, 2020 (subject to room availability).
    • We can also help arrange any catering for your delegates, which would be at your own cost.

    Adelaide Convention Centre welcome the opportunity to discuss this in further detail. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Erryn on the details below. You can find additional information on their dedicated COVID Safe measures, here.

    For more information please contact:

    Erryn Dryga
    Senior Sales Manager – Convention & Exhibition Sales
    Adelaide Convention Centre
    P: 08 8210 6740

  • 30 Sep 2020 3:43 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    As the coronavirus upends economies and industries, organizations that want to survive must have an agile and resilient workforce. A new Aon survey looks at these crucial skills and how organizations are cultivating them.

    COVID-19 has transformed the way most of us work. But what are the key changes that will help organizations stay competitive? A new survey from Aon looks at how businesses will be able to thrive during times of transition.

    “There’s a lot of discussion today about what the future of work will look like and how companies can get there,” said Brooke Green, partner and practice leader, employee rewards in Aon’s Rewards Solutions business. “However, we think there is a better question for companies to ask themselves. Namely, ‘How do I build a more agile and resilient workforce with the capacity to adapt quickly to new business needs and disruptions?’ In other words, instead of trying to predict the future, let’s focus on preparing ourselves for potential challenges.”

    Accelerating Workforce Agility and Resilience” asked employers about workforce agility, which it defines as “the ability to quickly move employees into new roles or areas of the organization to support changing business needs.” Most believed agility among employees was crucial, with 84 percent saying it was either very or extremely important. Unfortunately, only 39 percent viewed their current workforce as very or extremely agile. “Therefore, it is clear we have a widespread workforce agility gap to address,” Green said.

    Given that gap, there are ways for organizations to help their staff become more agile. “When asked to assess 10 key factors needed to build and maintain an agile workforce, the ability to attract and retain diverse employees and create an inclusive culture ranked near the top,” Green said.

    The report notes that a diverse workforce can help infuse organizations with agility. Another skill that goes along with workforce agility is workforce mobility, which is “moving people vertically and laterally through an organization,” with 73 percent finding this either extremely or very important.

    “At an organizational level, I would focus on a creating a culture that rewards mobility and then deploy systems and processes that facilitate mobility,” Green said. “For example, does your company champion people who take intelligent risks, which can include going on an international assignment or moving from one job function to another? Do you have a strong job architecture system in place that provides employees with visibility into both vertical and horizontal career paths through your organization?”

    Mobility, she says, is something organizations can implement by giving employees the opportunity to make it happen. “Often, accelerating talent mobility isn’t about finding people with the right skills to move around in your organization; it is about making it easy for people to define their own path and seek out opportunities within a welcoming structure created by the company,” Green said.

    The survey also looked at organizations coping with the pandemic and classified them into three categories: reacting and responding to the pandemic, recovering from the pandemic by returning to the workplace and updating business goals, or reshaping their business plans by creating or pivoting to new products and deploying new talent strategies. Only 24 percent of respondents had moved to the reshaping business phase, while most—67 percent—were in the recovery phase.

    Green noted that some companies were working simultaneously in multiple categories, and that can work well, with the right employees. “These companies might label themselves as sitting in the middle of our framework, but they are actually working across every stage of framework simultaneously,” Green said. “Additionally, this is where we return to the concepts of workforce agility and resilience―if you boost these attributes within your workforce, you will move faster.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Rasheeda Childress.

  • 30 Sep 2020 3:37 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    To win back lost members, associations need to craft communications with a tone, structure, and messaging that reinforce the value of membership.

    Losing members is an unfortunate reality for every association. This is especially true in 2020, when new outside pressures—particularly the financial turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—might have more people ready to cut membership fees out of their expenses, on top of the other numerous reasons people let memberships lapse.

    But a well-coordinated email communication strategy can win members back. In fact, according to the 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report from Marketing General Incorporated, email is the top channel for reinstating lapsed members.

    Check out these tips to craft your own email communications that will re-engage lost members.


    By the time a member lapses, you’ve probably already tried multiple ways to get him or her to renew—dues notices, phone calls, emails detailing approaching renewal deadlines—and you might not know the reason for the lack of action.

    “That’s where your exit surveys come in,” says Camille Sanders, CAE, director of membership at the Water Environment Federation (WEF). “It’s an opportunity for you to gather data about why people are lapsing, because it’s not going to be the same for every organization.”

    Send lapsed members a survey to get their reasons for leaving, and use that to inform your communications. If people cite cost as the biggest reason, for example, consider working discounts or incentives into your reinstatement campaign.

    To promote survey participation, Sanders recommends limiting the survey to just a few questions that take only a couple of minutes to answer.


    A dry, formal request to renew probably won’t drive lapsed members to action. Though you don’t need to be overly casual, messages should carry an air of familiarity, and your care for members should shine through.

    “That’s the mistake I see in some communications. Organizations are almost talking to lapsed members as though they’re new prospects,” Sanders says. “Build on the advantage of the fact that they do know your organization.”

    Show appreciation that the member signed up in the first place and lead with a tone of understanding about why they might have lapsed, touching on the pain points you discovered in exit surveys. Sanders recommends using empathetic language, such as: “We know these are tough times, but we value your membership,” “We’re here to support you,” and “We miss you, and we’d like to win you back.”


    Sanders says some lapsed members might not even be aware of the full cache of member benefits, so give them a quick refresher by listing core benefits in your communications with them. You could also include testimonial blurbs from current members about how these benefits have a real impact.


    If you’re going to offer incentives or discounts, remember that not everyone responds to price, Sanders says. Be sure to also reinforce the value of membership from a community and professional development standpoint while demonstrating how your organization is supporting members during unprecedented times.


    Timing is important when it comes to how frequently you contact lapsed members. Asking for a renewal too often could drive them away.

    “We don’t want people to get annoyed and say, ‘Hey, take me off of all of your [contact] lists.’ So I think that’s something you have to be careful with,” Sanders says.

    At WEF, renewal outreach starts before expiration with soft reminders. But once a member lapses, the organization sends monthly renewal communications, and only up to 90 days after membership expires. After 90 days, they drop off WEF’s member rolls and are left alone until six months after expiration.


    A plain wall of text might not catch a lapsed member’s eye. Sanders recommends:

    • adding visual elements, such as images of real members at events (try to avoid stock photography, as it’s unlikely to have as strong an effect)
    • using bullet points to break up copy—when listing core benefits, for example
    • linking to a landing page with more detail instead of dumping all the information into the email


    Studies have shown that the shorter an email, the likelier that a user responds. Keep messaging to just two or three paragraphs, and deliver important information in a bite-size format, such as with bullet points.

    And while email is most effective, phone calls and direct mail are good supplements to help bridge the technology skills gap.

    “We have a membership that is aging. Some of our members are responsive to email, to digital touch points, but not all of them are,” Sanders says. “We still have to be really intentional about how we communicate with our members and meet them where they are.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Michael Hickey.

  • 30 Sep 2020 3:34 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    A new survey suggests that leadership roles will at least be shared with artificial intelligence in the coming years. Now’s the time to think about the executive roles that can’t be automated.

    This may not be the best time to be thinking 15 years into the future, I know. For many associations, the rest of 2020 is stressful enough, and 2021 seems plenty forbidding too.

    But any association wise enough to have a strategic planning process knows that it has to look for potential headwinds. And a study released last week by the software company Citrix suggests that automation will have a substantial impact on leadership—calling to question what a leader might be good for, if AI can make decisions nearly as well as a human can.

    Citrix’s report, Work 2035, is based on the responses of 500 executives and 1,000 employees at large and mid-size companies in the United States and Europe, with a focus on artificial intelligence and productivity. In general, an always-on work mentality, combined with better analytics, have led people to wonder what role the C-suite ought to play. A third of employees say leadership will be “partially or completely replaced by technology” by 2035, and though only a small proportion of leaders agree with that, there’s a common feeling that automation will have an impact. Three-fourths of those surveyed say that most organizations will have a central AI department, and 69 percent say the CEO will be working with a “chief of artificial intelligence.”

    In one imagined scenario in the report, the authors note that in the haste to streamline their organizations, “leaders will end up finding ways to replace their own jobs: Leadership teams are already being reshaped and slimmed down, as technology replaces even the most complex roles.”

    As Alibaba founder Jack Ma put it more bluntly a few years back: Thirty years from now “the Time Magazine cover for the best CEO of the year very likely will be a robot. It remembers better than you, it counts faster than you, and it won’t be angry with competitors.”

    That’s a challenge for association leaders twice over—not just in terms of their own jobs, but for the jobs of their association’s members as well. ASAE’s ForesightWorks research initiative has cited automation as a key change driver, with a cascade of impacts. It affects advocacy, because technology often outpaces regulation; volunteering, because a lot of grunt-work tasks often shunted to committees can be handled by AI; and membership, because your members risk being displaced by automation.

    This isn’t all bad news. Automation can clear some brush from your processes and get you focusing on more essential strategic activities. As the ForesightWorks research brief points out: “Could members be supported with new content, new services, or new products that help them explore the pros and cons of automation?… Could the association itself benefit from automating some tasks that now consume the attention of staff or volunteers?”

    Regardless, it’s a trend that’s hard to ignore, and leaders have to decide how they’ll help their people pivot. Leading employees in the future, the Citrix report says, will require more of an investment in upskilling to better handle tasks that are less likely to be automated.

    “They must redesign workplaces and IT systems around intelligent, inspiring experiences that empower employees to use technology effectively, solve problems in creative ways, and make decisions more quickly,” says the report. Related to that, one of the new jobs survey respondents say is likely to emerge by 2035 is “design thinker”—a leader needs help thinking holistically about what their organization will look like.

    The same thing goes for your membership. As the ForesightWorks brief put it, associations need to invest in training members to “stay smarter than the machines…. Uniquely human skills of leadership, team building, and emotional intelligence will be critical to continued employment.”

    Not an easy task. But the pandemic has given association executives a crash course in some of the essential characteristics of leadership in that emerging environment: more tech savvy, more focused on speed, more adaptive, more concerned with innovation and the collaborative processes that stoke it. And also with compassion, supporting employees and members who’ve experienced displacement.

    Automation isn’t a dangerous virus. But it’s a challenge that in 2035 will require the same kind of intelligence that gets us through 2020.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Mark Athitakis.

  • 30 Sep 2020 3:31 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    A culture of teamwork and empowered decision making helps organizations thrive in times of rapid change.

    If a single word encapsulates business strategy in 2020, it’s “pivot.”

    As the pandemic rapidly accelerated throughout the country earlier this year, with little yet known about the novel coronavirus, events and hospitality organizations were forced to forge a rapid response. And it’s those businesses already set up with an organizational culture defined by nimbleness that were best prepared to do that — and that remain best positioned to succeed amid the crisis and into an uncertain future.

    That’s because the ability to develop with innovative solutions quickly and implement them seamlessly is essential to navigating rapid change. A nimble culture allows organizations to work together, be creative, and make effective decisions as a team, without arbitrary obstacles.

    One company ready to turn on a dime was Visit Indy. The organization was well prepared to respond to the pandemic, working with numerous hospitality industry partners within the city to swiftly announce a united message and coalesce under a common strategy.


    Indy has long invested substantially in its event infrastructure. For evidence, take a look at the city’s upcoming roster of major events: Just next year alone, Indy is slated to host the NBA All-Star Game, the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament championship, and the Big Ten Football Championship.

    “Major events like these are not possible without a working relationship and cooperation with all stakeholders, something we’ve become very accustomed to,” says Visit Indy senior vice president of sales Daren Kingi.

    To that end, the group was prepared to move quickly and as a bloc in response to the pandemic. Together with the Indiana Lodging and Restaurant Association, Visit Indy rolled out the Hoosier Hospitality Promise, a commitment to adhere to a rigorous set of safety and sanitization standards. And restaurants, attractions, and hotels around the city eagerly jumped on board.

    “A safe environment is paramount to welcoming back visitors and reviving in-person events, so our team is working with partners across the city to ensure the promise is upheld,” Kingi says.


    In the spring, the city launched the Indy Tourism Recovery Task Force, a team of 63 meeting and event professionals across all sectors who gather weekly to ensure continuing and aggressive actions that promote a safe and healthy environment in the city. Included on the task force are committees dedicated to hotels and other venues. “These have been important as we work with each client on a custom plan to welcome their attendees back safely,” Kingi says.

    Indy also worked with hotels around the city, alongside the Indiana Convention Center, to offer zero attrition for meeting groups given the crisis, which hit live events and travel harder than nearly any other business sector. (The U.S. Travel Association estimates that an $400 billion decline in travel spending around the country this year will translate to a staggering loss of $910 billion in economic output.)

    “We knew we needed to help our clients recover and reconnect, while lessening the financial risk,” Kingi says. “We were proud to have 22 properties across the city participate and be the first city in the nation to offer zero attrition. This took an enormous amount of collaboration, which can only be achieved when the convention center and hotels are in complete lockstep.”


    To say it has been easy for any business in the industry would be clearly false. “It is unfortunate that the meetings and events industry has been one of the most affected industries during this crisis,” Kingi says. But, he adds, “Before I came to Visit Indy, I was a 29-year veteran of the hotel world, and I can tell you I’ve never seen a community work together quite like Indy.”

    And that coming together in a time of crisis is driving measurable, real-world results with powerful economic impact. Indy is welcoming back groups, having already successfully hosted medical, corporate, and religious meetings with attendance surpassing 40,000 people across 18 events over 40 days.

    “This is a testament to our teamwork and determination,” Kingi says. “If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we cannot sit around and wait for our industry to recover. We must continue to meet every challenge with creative problem solving and teamwork, two things that have recently been super charged during this pandemic.”

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Visit Indy.

  • 30 Sep 2020 3:26 PM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    The smartphone giant delays a plan to take commissions from apps being used for virtual events. 

    For event organizers looking to take advantage of the iOS ecosystem to put on paid programs, Apple just offered a temporary App Store reprieve.

    Last week, the company announced it would suspend plans to take a 30 percent commission for paid virtual events offered through the iOS platform through the end of the year. Apple said  it would not take commissions for virtual events put on by small businesses through Facebook’s app in particular—but as a compromise, it would continue to take commissions for online-native events such as game streaming.

    Apple has faced controversy over the size of the cut it takes from app publishers in general, particularly Fortnite developer Epic Games, which is at the center of a legal battle with Apple. (The game publisher is part of a new advocacy group, the Coalition for App Fairness, along with Spotify, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, and News Media Europe, among others.)

    In-person events organized through iOS apps have never been subject to the 30 percent fee, so as gatherings turn virtual, some event planners may be running into the commission for the first time. As we wrote last month, this could prove a long-term problem for event planners looking to offer virtual events through mobile platforms.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith.

  • 29 Sep 2020 1:31 PM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    It’s now very unusual to find a city building that doesn’t cater for the disabled in some way.  Access ramps, enhanced sightlines and layouts, modulated acoustics, that kind of thing.  It’s just standard, good design practice these days.

    But who among us has a website that’s disability-friendly?  All public service and non-public service agencies must meet the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard 1.1, but what about your site and the websites run by your member organisations?

    There are 1.1 million New Zealanders with a disability, or one in four of us. Around 11 per cent of children are disabled in some way and 27 per cent of adults are limited in their daily activities by a range of impairments.

    But, you can bet a very high percentage of disabled Kiwis are still browsing the internet.  They want what everyone wants.  They choose where to shop, where to eat, which product to buy, what hotel to stay in, which vehicle to buy, what airline to fly.

    They’re looking for information, products and services; they’re looking to transact and engage in some way with your organisation and with your members.

    But, how much of this audience are you losing if your website doesn’t reflect their needs?  How big a market - a customer base - are you or your member organisations potentially losing because around 1.1million Kiwis find it too hard to engage with your website and its valuable content?

    Think about it from your audience’s perspective: if you are blind or deaf, or could not use a mouse or trackpad, how would you navigate the intenet? And, how much preference would you give to brands and organisations that design their websites with your needs in mind?

    This is why organisations are starting to make website accessibility one of their core digital goals.  It might entail extra work, but so, too, did the installation of ramps and escalators and the changes to interior lighting and layouts that now make buildings and office space more navigable and habitable for people affected by disabilities.

    Paying attention to people with disabilities isn’t just the right thing to do; it makes sense from an organisational perspective.

    What is website accessibility?

    Website accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the internet, including:

    • auditory
    • cognitive
    • neurological
    • physical
    • speech
    • visual

    Website accessibility also benefits people without disabilities:

    • people using mobile phones, smart watches, smart TVs, and other devices with small screens
    • older people with changing abilities due to ageing
    • people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm or lost glasses
    • people with “situational limitations” such as bright sunlight or in an environment where they cannot listen to audio
    • people using a slow Internet connection

    For a 7-minute video with examples of how accessibility is essential for people with disabilities and useful for everyone in a variety of situations, see: Web accessibility perspectives (You Tube)  

    Accessibility benefits to organisations

    Improve your search engine optimisation

    The websites that Google ranks on the first page of its search results are the ones they consider to be the most relevant and useful. Google determines that by using a complex algorithm which takes into account 200+ factors.  Website accessibility and search engine optimisation (SEO) have a number of shared principles, meaning making your website more accessible is likely to improve your SEO. 

    Increase site usability

    Many accessibility requirements improve site usability for everyone. For example, providing sufficient contrast benefits people using the web on a mobile device in bright sunlight or in a dark room. Captions benefit people in noisy and in quiet environments. Some people have age-related functional limitations, and may not identify these as a “disability”. Accessibility addresses these situations too.

    Enhance your brand

    Creating accessible web experiences helps your organisation – and your members - enhance the all-important brand experience by demonstrating a tangible and proactive focus on inclusion.  The more welcoming your site appears to be, the easier it is to navigate, the more likely your site is to reinforce your brand values.  The converse is also true - when websites aren't easily accessible some people are automatically excluded from having a positive brand experience — although they may definitely have negative ones.

    Accessibility creates more opportunities for brand advocates 

    When people have ongoing positive interactions with your organisation they become more loyal to your brand. When they feel the service or treatment they received could benefit people they know, they're going to make recommendations to them.  Something for you and your member organisations to think about.

    Accessibility demonstrates social responsibility

    Consumers have no shortage of options. People are increasingly choosing to support brands that share their values. As web accessibility continues to become mainstream, those values for many include the inclusivity and accessibility of products and services. If you've committed to accessibility, you should let people know.  Social media, press releases, blogs posts, and emails are all ways you could get your message in front of interested, like-minded people.


    Incorporating accessibility into your brand

    There are robust guidelines around website accessibility and The PR Company would be delighted to review your site and provide detailed advice and recommendations about how your accessibility ratings can be improved.

    Remember, around a quarter of us are disabled in some way but that doesn’t mean disabled people don’t surf the net or want to engage with brands.  Which brands they choose to engage with can be determined by which websites they can access easily.

    Let’s work together to make it as easy for them as possible.   To learn more contact us.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:28 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    In the final instalment of our series on the hybrid workplace, we look at establishing flexible policies that will allow both remote and in-office workers to thrive.

    Congratulations: You’ve made it through the chaos of abruptly switching to a remote workforce, and perhaps you’ve decided to transition to a hybrid workplace model. Now it’s time to evaluate whether your policies accommodate all workers, be they in-office or remote.

    “For the most part, policies should be applicable to both remote workers and employees at a regular work site,” says Katie Brennan, a human resources knowledge advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management. “But there are certainly going to be some considerations that an employer will want to take.”

    Brennan suggests that employers re-evaluate the following policies for a hybrid workplace.

    DRESS CODE. Does your organization have a strict dress code? Now could be the time to rethink it.

    “If no one else is looking at an employee, does it really matter if they’re wearing a suit? Usually, employers are not going to enforce that if employees are not in a public setting,” Brennan says. Consider relaxing the office dress code too—providing guidance for staffers who have face time with members, donors, and partners—to avoid any perceived favourable treatment of remote workers.

    BENEFITS PACKAGES. Benefits required by law vary by state, so a newly dispersed workforce needs a policy that meets requirements for all states where employees are located. Brennan says organizations can look at which applicable state requires the most generous benefits, then provide those benefits to all employees. That way, some employees don’t get better packages than others based on location.

    FLEXTIME. Over the past months, you might have begun letting remote employees exert more control over their schedules instead of requiring a rigid five-day, 9-to-5 work week. In a hybrid environment, consider expanding your flextime policy to apply to the entire workforce on a job-to-job basis.

    “Certain jobs can more easily flex regardless of their work location, whereas others really have to be completed within a certain time period,” Brennan says.

    Flextime is often associated with remote work, but there are options for any worker, no matter the location: alternating schedules, compressed schedules, gliding schedules, maxiflex. As long as it’s feasible for your association, flextime is worth implementing in some form, as it can be a productivity and morale booster.

    WORKPLACE SAFETY POLICIES. When the office reopens, your employees shouldn’t be walking into the same environment they were in before the shutdown. New policies need to be put in place to keep everyone safe, such as guidance on gatherings, social distancing, and employee health screenings—all in compliance with federal, state, and local legal obligations.

    Another consideration: how to ensure that employees follow the new health protocols. For employees who do not, disciplinary steps should be prescriptive (for example, first a verbal warning, then a written warning, then termination) but leave room for discretion.

    “Employers are going to want to be consistent in how they discipline employees for the various infractions,” Brennan says. “But sometimes things don’t fit into a certain box, or [the infraction is] so egregious that it warrants skipping the whole disciplinary process and going straight to termination.”

    EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENT. Employees who remain remote might request more equipment to help them operate at their best from home. Add a section about remote work to your reimbursement policy, detailing what will and will not be covered.

    Brennan says organizations generally provide a computer and reimburse tech expenses such as internet and smartphone-related costs, but they will not cover the costs of something like office furniture.

    PAID TIME OFF. “Generally, PTO policies will be dependent on different criteria, like years of service or whether someone’s full-time or part-time,” Brennan says. “

    Because an employee’s work location typically is not a factor in PTO, you probably won’t have to make permanent adjustments to your policy. But Brennan cautions that as more of the world reopens, your employees might feel inclined to use their saved PTO all at the same time, leading to critical overlaps in vacations.

    Organizations can temporarily modify PTO policies to prevent this. For example, if you have a “use it or lose it” policy in which vacation days do not transfer to the next year, provide a grace period in 2021 when some PTO can carry over to avoid a vacation logjam at the end of 2020.

    Brennan offers one final tip: As workers find their footing in this new environment, the last thing they need is to be caught off guard by a surprising change to a workplace policy. Although employers are generally not legally required to give advance notice, it’s a best practice, she says. Provide policy updates in writing so employees have a copy of what’s expected of them.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Michael Hickey.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:21 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    It can be challenging for sponsors to extract the same value from virtual events as their real-world equivalents. But a little flexibility can go a long way to change that.

    In-person events naturally offer lots of opportunities for bringing attention to sponsors, whether a prominent banner, a sizable floor space, or a spot on a stage. But how can you give sponsors the visibility they paid for in a virtual context?

    Simply put, the old strategies don’t work. A recent white paper from Ricochet and Bruce Rosenthal Associates suggests that the conventional sponsorship model for meetings may need to be thrown out.

    “During the pandemic, the traditional benefits offerings repurposed for virtual events are not likely to be of interest. The old way of courting sponsors has likely come to an end for most events and associations,” states the report, titled “The New Sponsorship Model for Virtual Events.”

    So what can be done to ensure sponsors get the value they’re after? Perhaps the new play is to position your sponsors as thought leaders, giving them a way to raise their voices, rather than just their logo on a banner. Here are a few ideas on what form sponsor thought leadership could take.

    Work sponsors into your virtual event sessions. As the virtual event platform Socio recently noted, many in-person event tactics translate to virtual. Sponsors can help moderate or take part in panels and even be given a speaking slot where they can talk about issues relevant to the sector. Just make sure your sponsors are well versed in how to moderate or present. “Speakers need to be able to run their own tech, switch slides, and roll with the technical glitches as they come up,” Socio’s Corey McCarthy writes. “Training your speakers on strategies to keep the audience engaged wouldn’t hurt either.”

    Focus on presenting provocative ideas. Thought leaders present ideas that challenge the status quo or question traditional thinking. And while there’s often a lightning-in-a-bottle aspect to how provocative ideas reach an audience (example: what happens on Twitter basically every day), associations can plant the seeds for thought leadership to flourish, writes the Bizzabo blog. Start by picking hot topics with the potential to drive thought-provoking responses that will raise a sponsor’s profile. Contributed blog posts and other engagement strategies could have a higher chance of catching fire with a perfectly selected topic.

    Adapt digital marketing tactics for sponsors. While you may not be able to re-create the impact of an in-person appearance, digital events put different tools at your disposal—whether it’s short interstitials between virtual sessions, email marketing campaigns, or sponsored chat messages during livestreams. With a little bit of workshopping or the right links to the right places, these can be effective messages for trustworthy voices. That said, virtual events differ greatly from physical ones, and that should inform how you roll out these messages. “Treat virtual events as something new. You have the framework of what you are used to doing, but think outside the box and reimagine as you go,” Cvent’s Madison Layman writes.

    Consider the value of your event data. While attention can be a major benefit for sponsors during virtual events, a bigger win might be the additional access to data that events offer. Using data from your meeting, sponsors can better target their efforts for future events. “Companies need associations to provide the type of marketing data and prospect access they receive from their own digital marketing efforts,” Ricochet white paper authors Christopher Gloede and Bruce Rosenthal write. The secret isn’t just giving sponsors access to the data, but also helping them interpret it so they can put the right kinds of thought leadership in front of the people they want to reach.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Ernie Smith.

  • 23 Sep 2020 11:15 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    A good online experience could be the difference between retaining new members and driving them away. Tackling a few important questions before you start your website redesign will help you create a roadmap to success.

    An association’s website is a window into the soul of an organization, its people, and its mission. It’s where people go to learn about you—but they’ll leave quickly if your site is poorly designed. An Adobe survey reported that 39 percent of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or it takes too long to load, and 38 percent will stop engaging if it’s unattractive. On top of that, 88 percent are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

    To get started on your redesign journey, ask these three key questions.


    Narrowing down your goals and objectives will help inform your design decisions. Are you redesigning for easier navigation? Is the site too slow and in need of a performance boost? Does the redesign reflect a larger change of direction within the organization?

    For the California Speech Language Hearing Association, a website redesign came as a result of a brand refresh. After CSHA approved a new vision statement, mission statement, logo, and tagline, it began redesigning its website. In addition to its improved overall functionality, the new website now tells the story of where CSHA is today and puts more emphasis on its members and their stories.

    In addition, its new tagline, “Human Lives. Human Connection,” is prominent, and CSHA’s revamped position as a thought leader in the industry is right on the homepage, with links to a resource library and education opportunities.


    Internet browsing habits and expectations have changed over the years, so what your website offers might not be the kind of web experience people are currently looking for. Nowadays, users want to find new information immediately—and from the palm of their hands.

    The Lung Cancer Research Foundation tapped into these needs and redesigned its website for easier navigation and mobile optimization. Now, the site’s homepage contains three categories—patient or caregiver, researcher, and supporter/advocate—so visitors can quickly access the information that is relevant to them.

    To keep visitors abreast of what they need to know right now, the organization regularly updates its site with new content, including the latest advances in lung cancer treatment, upcoming events, and updates on foundation programs.


    It’s easy to think of a web redesign as something for members and other visitors, but just as important is how well your website works for internal users who are responsible for managing security risks, handling sensitive data, and creating content that will live on the site.

    Sure, Choose Chicago’s website redesign aimed to improve the user experience by offering more immersive content experiences. But the organization also offered more versatility for internal users by moving from a licensed content management system to an open-source solution, which allows developers to modify a piece of software’s source code to suit their needs.

    This article was sourced directly from Associations Now here, and is written by Michael Hickey. 

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