Sector and AuSAE News

  • 10 Dec 2020 10:35 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Many associations are concerned that they can’t provide a pre-COVID-19 experience for the foreseeable future. One association’s recommendation: Get over it.

    Joy Davis, CAE, had had it.

    This has been a rough year for associations, of course, and a lot of the emotional toll has crept into their marketing. Davis, managing director of member products at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), saw the worst of it in meetings communications. We’re sorry we can’t see you in person. This won’t be our preferred member experience, but…

    “All through the year, I saw really terrible messaging coming out of associations,” she says. “I’m like, why are you saying that to your members?”

    Davis funneled her exasperation into an essay, “Normal Is Over(rated)—For Now,” published last month at the Velvet Chainsaw blog. The heart of her argument is that COVID-19 has prompted too many associations to engage in wishful thinking about what’ll happen without a pandemic, instead of accepting the situation as it is. That’s led to what she calls the “apology meeting.”

    “We are telling our people that no matter what they do, it will never be as good as what we did before, and we cannot wait to get back to doing things that way, without even trying what we could be doing now,” Davis says.

    In other words, associations have found another way back into that mindset we all thought we’d banned: But we’ve always done it that way. “It was not just the communication, it was this failure to imagine something different,” says AAPS Executive Director Tina Morris.

    AAPS’s most aggressive act of resistance on this front involved its annual meeting. Like just about every association meeting in 2020, it moved its annual conference, PharmSci 360, online. But unlike a lot of associations, it held the line on registration fees. Instead of marketing around interactions that couldn’t happen anyway, it highlighted the amount of content it had to offer and widened the time frame within which attendees could experience it.

    “If you were to go back and look at all of our marketing messaging, in every single email there is a sentence that says ‘PharmSci 360 on your schedule,’” says Davis.

    This isn’t just a matter of marketing differently, Morris says. An “apology” mindset has a way of creeping into how associations think about their future plans and whether their decisions reflect the current reality or a wished-for one. At AAPS, that’s required some conversations with volunteer leaders about shifting their mindsets.

    “Reinforcement was very important because we had different leaders who at different times during the year had challenges,” Morris says. “We were trying to be very deliberate as a leadership team about how we communicated the degree of change that was happening. We do realize that different people have different comfort levels.”

    In her article, Davis explains some of the upsides of getting out of the apology mindset: opportunities to better understand a changing market, the new kinds of data that you’re gathering in a virtual environment, and the new ways of communicating that members are discovering and using. “Get a little excited about what you can do right now,” she writes. “Start every conversation from a place that encourages creativity and problem-solving. Ask your members to renew because you’re doing stuff that helps them where they are today.”

    Davis recalls that one of the mantras at a previous association where she worked was “don’t get into a conversation about pricing—talk about quality.” That mindset kept AAPS from holding an apology meeting in 2020, but it’s also provided a north star for getting through the pandemic—it trusts that the value of what the association provides is more meaningful than the delivery method. And it trusts that members will pay what those products and services are worth in a challenging economic time.

    “Treat your members like you want to have a relationship after this crisis is over—or any crisis,” she says. “If you really think you’re a content organization, you should be willing to say, ‘We’re a content organization and that’s the value here. You should be able to stand up for that.”

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

  • 10 Dec 2020 9:10 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Melbourne Showgrounds, operated by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, is Melbourne's largest and most versatile venue, offering unique and flexible indoor and outdoor spaces designed to host a variety of events and activities including trade shows, exhibitions, expos, festivals and much, much more. The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, a not-for-profit, member-based organisation, has for over 170 years promoted excellence in Victorian agriculture, showcased food and beverage produce and producers, created vibrant event spaces and presented premier events.

    The Melbourne Showgrounds is uniquely placed given the huge outdoor areas and multiple large venue spaces (varying from 1,500 sqm to 10,000 sqm). This means that virtually any event that is approved to proceed from a COVID Safe perspective would be possible at the Melbourne Showgrounds, especially the fantastic conference and dining space we were exhibiting at AuSAE LIVE – The Victoria Pavilion.

    In addition, recent AV upgrades by Encore Event Technologies in the venue spaces & the appointment of a new catering partner make Melbourne Showgrounds the perfect location for your 2021 events.

    The City of Melbourne recognises the events industry contributes strongly to their bold, innovative and sustainable city. They also recognise the events industry is facing unprecedented challenges during COVID-19. 

    As part of their reactivation initiatives, and in partnership with the Victorian Government, they are now providing grants up to $100,000 to help deliver COVID-safe events in 2021. Melbourne Showgrounds have been encompassed in the area covered for event grants.

    Apply now for grants:

    • up to $25,000 for small events, exhibitions and activations
    • up to $100,000 for medium to large events – this requires evidence of funding from other sources.

    Special consideration may be given to proposals seeking funding above $100,000.

    To apply for the City of Melbourne Reactivation Event Grants to support you host your event, please click here.

    Contact: James Gilham | 0403 657 624 | james@melbourneshowgrounds.com

  • 10 Dec 2020 8:33 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and entertainment venue supports major easing of restrictions for corporate and live entertainment events

    International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) welcomes the overnight update from the NSW Government to ease COVID-19 restrictions from 7 December for corporate and live entertainment events with maximum capacity limits determined by the new one person per two square metres rule.
     
    Australia’s premier convention, exhibition and entertainment venue is promptly reviewing the implications of the proposed public health order changes to its operational capacity and upcoming events schedule, including the number of attendees permitted in its Convention Centre, Exhibition Centre and Aware Super Theatre.
     
    ICC Sydney CEO, Geoff Donaghy said ICC Sydney supports the state-wide easing of COVID-19 restrictions which is a welcomed confidence boost for the business events industry.
     
    “The changes will move us much closer to freeing up the national market and bolster our ability to promote Sydney as a safe business events destination with confidence. We are awaiting the finer details of the public health order and will be documenting it with our clients to support their event execution.”
     

    Donaghy continued, “We still have some way to go with the resurrection of international business which is vital to our full recovery. We remain focused on continuing to work with industry representative bodies to progress a long term recovery strategy for business events to ensure this remains on the agenda with decisions makers.”
     
    ICC Sydney is currently open and running a range of in-person and hybrid events in line with the venue’s EventSafe Operating Guide which integrates parent group ASM Global’s rigorous Venue Shield program, while meeting NSW Government regulations.

     https://www.iccsydney.com.au/ 


  • 03 Dec 2020 4:26 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Knowing how to communicate with members—and when—consumes many hours of discussion even in good times. Add multiple crises in a single year, and things really get complex. A communications expert offers some tips for engaging members in uneasy times.

    Finally, Zoom fatigue explained! It’s caused by “lizard brain,” according Sheri Singer, president of Singer Communications. Lizard brain is one operating in survival mode, relying on fight or flight instincts. Understandable. We are experiencing several crises at once—a global pandemic, an unstable economy, racial injustice, political realignment, and more.

    Compounding that, many people are sleeping less, working longer, eating and drinking more, and exercising less, all of which contributes to an inability to focus (including on all those Zoom meetings) and other issues. Our brains are not working like they usually do.

    So how to better engage members when it’s difficult to make connections with such compromised brains? Singer recommends communicating in a way that doesn’t require as much energy for members to process. For example, research shows shorter emails have a 50 percent higher response rate.

    “You can’t continue to communicate with members the ways you have in the past,” she said. Here are some additional insights.

    SHIFTING PERSONAS

    Now is a great time to look at your messaging. Singer cited a recent study from KetchumBrand Reckoning 2020: How Crisis Culture Is Redefining Consumer Behavior, Loyalty, and Values, which shows a marked change in Americans’ openness to reengaging with the outside world. The research identifies four crisis-culture personas:

    • Retro re-engagers want to return to the world as it was before.
    • Open-minded explorers have new priorities and are ready to embrace new things.
    • Worried withholders are not easily influenced and want to stay in their comfort zones.
    • Cautious questioners want to keep their distance until they know more.

    The largest group of responders (33 percent) are retro re-engagers. Because it’s unlikely that the world will go back to the way it was, Singer said, it’s important to keep those personas in mind as you craft messages. She recommends using words like contributeconnectnavigatecope, and respond instead of capitalizeofferadvantagegain, and profit.

    SHOW YOU CARE

    “We’ve moved to a different playbook being driven by people under 40” who expect marketing and communications to be largely driven by experience, Singer said. That means it’s time to be more empathetic, sympathetic, and compassionate.

    For example, it’s not enough to simply ask, “How are you?” Instead, ask, “How are you doing?” or “How are you handling COVID-19?” Eliciting a deeper response shows you care and gives your members—including your volunteer leaders—a safe space where they can expand on what is happening to them right now, she said.

    KICK IT OLD SCHOOL

    Singer recommends revisiting old-fashioned ways to connect, such as by phone or with handwritten notes, which will provide a welcome break from video calls. Or help members communicate directly with one another by setting up a phone tree and have one member, with a script, call five other members and discuss the value-added aspects of the organization. Then ask questions like: What is giving you value right now? How can the association provide that virtually? How can the organization be an innovator in the industry? And more.

    Nothing feels normal right now, and our brains, in their lizard form, are not processing information like they usually do. To stay connected with your members, it’s time to reassess messaging, revisit more personalized—and old-fashioned—ways of communicating, and express compassion.

    LISA BOYLAN
    Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now

  • 26 Nov 2020 4:49 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    2020 taught us a lot about strategic planning—this is what associations can do about it.

    If you are an association professional, we don’t have to tell you that you’re working harder than ever before. When the pandemic hit, you scrambled, pivoted, learned new tech on the fly and did whatever needed to be done to keep your members informed and your organization alive.

    Without question, associations big and small rose to meet this year’s unimaginable challenges. It was exhausting, at times frustrating, but you’re still standing. And now here’s the thing, a study conducted by Community Brands of over 1,000 association members says now is not the time to take your foot off the gas. If you upped your game in 2020, you’re really going to have to up your game in 2021.

    More than 50 percent of our respondents said that they value their membership more than they did before the pandemic, and member engagement rates show that. Associations have always been important to the people they serve, but now members see them as absolutely vital, and with more online and virtual options more members are engaging.

    So what can association professionals do in 2021 to meet the needs of current members, grow their membership base, increase revenue streams and not completely collapse from exhaustion? How do you meet big goals in a realistic and sustainable way? Our research has identified three key areas that truly matter to members, and that if executed thoughtfully, will make work for association professionals more impactful and more efficient.

    CONCENTRATE YOUR RESOURCES ON GIVING MEMBERS WHAT THEY WANT

    Associations do so many things for their members, but our research shows that a whopping 87 percent of those surveyed pointed to virtual meetings and conferences as the most helpful channels for building community and sharing information. Whether attendees are looking for new job opportunities, networking or education, these events are seen as crucial for career advancement. Again and again, we heard that while big splashy events are great, members really want more frequency and intimacy. Every event is an opportunity for growth, so associations would be wise to invest in tech that makes hosting and streaming with add-ons like breakout rooms simple and easy. While 2020 was a scramble where glitches and sometimes lackluster events were forgivable because everyone was learning how to do them in real-time, 2021 will be different. Higher expectations have been set, you need to meet or exceed them to keep people coming back for more.

    GET BACK YOUR OWN TIME

    Spending more time and energy on projects like these requires, well, more time and energy. While you can’t add more hours to the day, you can use technology to automate repetitive administrative tasks that eat away at your resources (password resets, dues reminders and the like.) Stealing back a few hours a day can make a massive difference to your workflow, and to your members. Assess what’s most valuable to your members’ in today’s environment, and focus there to make the biggest impact.

    FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF NETFLIX AND AMAZON

    Our research shows that more members are joining as students or within the first five years of employment—these are young people so your technology had better be on point. They want the convenience and ease they get with Netflix, Amazon and all of the other digital platforms they use. There should be no reason a member needs to re-enter a credit card number every time they want to buy something. There should be no reason that they can’t auto-renew a membership, or make monthly payments. Your goal is to remove as much friction as possible. Giving people the seamless tech experience they’re used to will help you retain and recruit more members.

    2020 was a year of unprecedented struggle. By taking strategic direction from the insights gleaned from our study, associations can make 2021 a year of unprecedented growth.

    This article was brought to you by Community Brands, the leading provider of cloud-based software to associations. To learn more about the association business model of the future, watch Preparing for 2021 and beyond on-demand webinar.

  • 19 Nov 2020 10:29 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    Last week Causeis launched their Digital Academy to resounding success! So much so, they are hosting another one before the year is out. 

    The next course is again set over two half days, 9.30am - 12.30pm (AEDT), commencing on Tuesday 8th December and finishing on Thursday 10th December. 

    Register now complimentary: https://www.causeis.com.au/Digital-Academy

    "Fantastic learnings and discussions around the future of tech and digital trends for associations." Jazz Tyrril, participant from the first Digital Academy


    This workshop-style course was designed to specifically help association professionals navigate digital transformation while remaining focused on the member experience. Attendees were immersed in learning the tools needed to formulate a comprehensive digital strategy and how to help their association adapt to a changing operating environment with confidence. An exclusive event for association executives and managers, it focused on defining and implementing a Digital and MX Strategy. The training covers:

    • Why is a Digital and MX Strategy critical for your association?
    • The interrelation of data, process, and experience
    • What can the past teach us?
    • Creating a culture of innovation
    • The role of member experience in your digital strategy
    • Framework for Digital and MX Strategy implementation
    • Industry leaders give us their predictions for digital strategy and future tech.

    *Numbers are limited to 50 seats

  • 19 Nov 2020 10:04 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    17 November 2020

    • BECA welcomes the commencement of the $50 million Business Events Grant Program – the Government’s support mechanism for the business events industry.
    • Austrade has opened EOIs to event owners to establish a Schedule of Approved Business Events. Owners of Approved Business Events may be eligible for grants under the program and Australian businesses wishing to attend will be able to apply for funding to cover up to 50% of eligible costs.
    • Industry continues to advise the Government on the grant guidelines. These will be announced as phase two of the grants program roll-out.
    • BECA urged State and Territory leaders to act proportionately in response to new outbreaks to ensure business confidence can be rebuilt.

    The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has welcomed the commencement of the Government’s $50 million Business Events Grants Program which was announced by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and portfolio ministers in September 2020.

    As a first phase Austrade has opened an EOI process to business event owners to establish a Schedule of Approved Business Events. BECA has urged business event owners across Australia to submit EOIs by 30 November to ensure their events can be considered for the Schedule when phase two of the grants Program opens in mid-December.

    “BECA are pleased with the design of this first phase and think it has identified the most important aspects of the contribution the business events industry can make to the recovery of the Australian economy,” Chair of BECA, Dr Vanessa Findlay said.

    “The industry looks forward to working with the Government on the finalisation of grant guidelines and subsequent launch and allocation of grants across the business events industry.”

    Australia’s $36 billion business events industry was one of the first and hardest hit industries by COVID-19 and may be one of the last to recover, due to the long lead times between booking and holding a major business event. The industry virtually ground to a halt in 2020 with most business events scheduled cancelled or postponed.

    In welcoming the program’s commencement BECA noted the Government’s focus on the importance of the industry and the jobs that it supports. In September, Minister Birmingham said, “Our business events sector is doing it incredibly tough at present and getting events put back into the calendar will help this key part of our tourism industry which supports around 230,000 jobs turn the corner.”

    Prime Minister Morrison stated ‘’Getting business events up and running again will be a critical part of the recovery of our tourism industry but will also have huge flow-on effects through the entire economy.”

    “The industry has its fingers crossed that the design of the grants program will provide the necessary financial boost and confidence to business event owners to book and hold their business event during 2021,” Dr Findlay said.

    “Another year of cancelled and postponed events would put the entire Australian business events industry in a questionable recovery position. Without a solid recovery in 2021, the whole logistics and supply chain for the industry could be dislocated to a point where the impacts are felt for years to come. We do not want to see the industry focused on 5 years of rebuilding, before moving to recovery and then rebound.”

    “This grants program must first and foremost turn positive sentiment into confidence, and that confidence into event bookings.”

    Noting the developing reaction and reimposition of border controls to the recent COVID-19 cluster in South Australia, the business events industry urged Premiers and Chief Ministers to react proportionately.

    “As I watch the knee-jerk reaction of some Premiers around the country to the South Australian cluster with no notice, I fear the worst for any business trying to rebuild confidence in this uncertain environment,” Dr Findlay said.

    “For business events, this means decision-makers – those that bear 100% of the risk - will favour the continuation of virtual meetings over in-person meetings, which will have serious consequences for the Australian industry and the economy if delegates can’t move around the country with confidence.”

    BECA’s most significant priority is to create an environment where business event owners are confident to plan, book and hold a business event. Only then can the benefits of the industry flow across the economy.

    BECA will continue to advise the Government on the design and implementation of the Business Events Grants Program to achieve its primary objective – the restart of the business events industry in Australia – as well as other policies that will support the recovery and rebound phase.

    <ENDS>

    For information contact:
    Dr Vanessa Findlay
    BECA Chair
    vfindlay@businesseventscouncil.org.au

  • 19 Nov 2020 5:46 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    As the internet continuously evolves and changes, organizations that regularly fine-tune, tweak and adapt their content strategies are more likely to stay ahead of the competition.

    If you keep your content strategy the same year after year, your organization might not suffer in any obvious ways. But in the long run, this stasis can undermine your organization’s overall success. 

    There are many ways to experiment with content, but three tactics can help ##: Monitoring engagement, making adjustments and setting goals for improvement. 

    Monitor how people engage with your content

    Every once in a while, a blog post will unexpectedly take off. Traffic will flood your website, engagement will skyrocket on social media and your newsletter sign-ups will suddenly spike. It’s a wonderful feeling — and one you’ll aim to replicate.

    There are many variables at play when this happens. Maybe the news cycle made your content especially timely. Or perhaps an influencer sparked a wave of engagement. But often, many factors are actually within your control. 

    If certain topics are consistently engaging your audience, lean into making them a focus of your content strategy. Understanding exactly what your audience responds to will help you craft content that meets their interests and needs.

    Similarly, if certain types of posts rarely receive engagement, it may be best to discontinue them. Doing so will allow you to devote more energy to content that drives the best results.

    Experiment with adjustments

    At a certain point, you may accumulate a backlog of content that doesn’t attract much traffic or engagement. Rather than quietly removing it or charging ahead with more content, your organization should experiment to see whether simple tweaks can produce better results.

    For example, a past blog post might offer helpful content in an SEO-unfriendly format. In this situation, you might identify the most important keyword, then edit the post so this keyword appears in the headers and body copy. Next, look for opportunities to break long blocks of text into scannable lists or bullet points. 

    Simple changes like this may help you recover the time and resources you already invested, while informing your approach to future content.

    Set goals for improvement

    As you begin to refine what content your audience craves and best practices for formatting it, you can establish new goals and metrics. 

    Initial content goals should be simple and attainable, such as maintaining a regular production schedule for an entire quarter. Once your content strategy has a sustainable workflow, the possibilities are truly endless. 

    Common content strategy goals include:

    • Growing your list of newsletter subscribers by adding calls to action
    • Improving engagement on social media by posting more often
    • Launching a contributed content program to increase the frequency of posting
    • Experimenting with new forms of multimedia
    • Creating partnership or syndication agreements with like-minded organizations

    As you reach and set increasingly ambitious goals, focus your energy on tactics that will grow your audience over time. 

    BY ASSOCIATIONSUCCESS.ORG STAFF | NOVEMBER 16, 2020

  • 12 Nov 2020 8:44 AM | Abby Fields (Administrator)

    New Zealand's largest gathering of association executive professionals is underway in Wellington. The two-and-a-half-day Australasian Society of Association Executives LINC Conference is being held at Shed 6 on the city's waterfront and kicked off on Sunday evening with a welcome function at Flamingo Joes.

    As well as providing networking opportunities, the conference is connecting delegates with thought leaders who are shifting the way we approach leadership, the economy and change.

    Further coverage of the conference will be in the November/December edition of Meeting Newz out later this month.


  • 12 Nov 2020 5:26 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Before immediately jumping to a survey to assess member needs, take the time to get to know their preferences so you can create a responsive tool to find out what they actually want. Here are five tips to guide you.


    Whenever association professionals start thinking about conducting a member needs assessment, they tend to leap immediately to a survey. Surveys usually include the usual prompts: “Rate our programs on importance and performance,” “On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with the association?” and “How likely are you to recommend membership to a colleague?” In my experience—at both small and large associations—jumping straight into planning a survey is not a great place to start.
    Instead, take time to do some preliminary work that will lay the groundwork for an effective member needs assessment. Here are five important steps.

    Review what you already know about the relationship between your association and your members. 

    Interviewing the frontline employees who answer the phones and emails and who monitor social media can give you a lot of insight. Find out what members are reaching out about, what they’re angry about, what needs are not being met, and more. If you have the time, consider tracking member communications for a month or longer. This is easy to do on a shared spreadsheet, in your association management system, or in a Google form.

    Gather all the data you have on members. 

    In a perfect world, this should all be in your AMS, but many associations use different systems for events, education, certifications, and research. You may not be able to collate the data collected in those systems with the information in your AMS, but it is still worth looking at what events members attend, which webinars they register for and actually view, who is certified, how many serve on committees or in other volunteer roles, and what past surveys have revealed. This will help clarify which members are highly involved with the association and what member involvement looks like.

    Understand the competitive environment. 

    Look on LinkedIn and Facebook to see if there are groups that are meeting some of your members’ networking needs. Determine what other events members are attending. Review similar associations or for-profit companies that overlap your value proposition.

    Review your membership situation. 

    Look at renewal trends over the past decade. Is your retention steady, declining, or growing? Are first-year members renewing for a second year? Are your new-member rates steady, declining, or growing? Are your new members similar to your long-term members? Membership data has many nuances that can be analyzed, but you need to identify he purpose of the member needs assessment.

    Membership data has many nuances that can be analyzed, but you need to identify he purpose of the member needs assessment.

    Interview select members on the phone, virtually, or, ideally, at events in the future. 

    It would also be insightful to interview former members and nonmembers who interact with your association without joining. Use the information you have gathered in steps one through four to put together five key questions for the interviews. Don’t ask too many questions; give them time to talk about anything related to the association. You can learn a lot when you allow the interviewee to guide the conversation.After collating and analyzing what you have learned in these five steps, then you are ready to develop a member needs survey. First, clearly define the purpose of the assessment. Identify what is most important to know and how the data will be used. If you cannot determine how the information will be used, then drop that question. If something will not change, such as the location of your conference, don’t ask about it.

    The key is to keep the survey short and only ask questions that bring new insights or are needed for comparison with previous surveys. If possible, design the survey to use the information that you can collate for each member and non-member, such as events you know they have attended for example. It would mean you do not have to ask them first if they attended the event when asking about event value. The more the survey questions reflect what you know about each respondent the better the completion rate.

    Fully understanding the membership environment is valuable for many reasons. And it is essential for developing an effective member needs survey.

    Melissa Teates, CAE

    Melissa Teates, CAE, is the principal and chief research officer at Worthwhile Research



The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

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Address: Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra QLD 4011 Australia
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Phone: +61 7 3268 7955
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Phone: +64 27 249 8677
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