Member Services and Events Coordinator @ Records and Information Professionals Australasia
*AuSAE Live HACKATHON article Author
*Adelaide Convention Centre 2020 Future Leaders Scholarship Recipient
Adelaide Convention Centre proudly supports the Future Leaders Scholarship Program; This year the Future Leaders lead a HACKATHON during AuSAE LIVE 2020 addressing the topic: What does innovation for the future of association events look like? Read the summary article below:
Who will forget the buzz words of 2020 – Pivot, Evolve and the New Norm.
Associations throughout the pandemic have pushed the boundaries in the way in which they have delivered events, communicated with their members, and strived for member engagement, as they rebuild and reenergise their business models.
Online virtual events have allowed associations to enhance their inclusivity and diversity within their membership. Associations have been forced to reflect on the way conferences have been run, moving away from complacency. Moving to a hybrid model has meant that associations have been able to reach minority groups (due to distance and circumstance) which has seen a steady increase in membership and higher than expected retention levels. However, one cannot completely replicate a face-to-face event with virtual simply by replacing the former.
High quality content, engaging presenters, technological advances and member engagement strategies are all key components of moving forward in a post-COVID world. Hybrid is here to stay, and face to face events are going to become so high tech that members expectations will be changed forever. Virtual Reality inclusions such as location tagging, and Bluetooth check in are already options however, event engagement and event strategy are two very different things.
It is also not only associations that have had to evolve but both exhibitors and presenters. Associations have a symbiotic relationship between these two and part of an event strategy should be to provide tools and suggestions to help exhibitors and presenters cope with the new virtual world. Associations have all had a requirement to upskill to provide diverse speakers, interactive events and continue with old traditions such as destination events that include both a physical and virtual audience. Both these audiences need to be able to interact together and should not be treated as two separate entities. Inclusivity will be felt by providing gamification, interactive discussion forums and live Q & A that feed into face-to-face Event Apps. “That’s not something we should expect, but demand from the technology providers”.
Webinar Fatigue is also a 2020 buzz word. Quality content (and not quantity) is the key. Follow a strategy, run with a theme, and understand the importance of time limits. 30mins – 1.5 hours should be sufficient time to keep your members engaged. Best practice is to provide triggers throughout the sessions such as self-reflections, polls and mediation or yoga. If you are losing your audience, reduce the number of webinars that are being delivered. Webinars can become your own marketing tool which can lead to increasing your advocacy profile to showcase to the wider community, so use this to your advantage!
In addition, training our members to access information should be a key priority for moving forward. Let us embrace the new wave of generations that are joining us and use technology and social media to secure our messages which will be an extension to what they already do. Tailor your communications to reach your members. Naturally, members have stopped reading communications as they have seen an influx of information. Use technology to associate with the member (such as member recognition software). Do not overcommunicate and figure out your target audiences – examples were:
This is the future of member communication. If your demographic needs it - lose the emails, pick up the phone and give those members that personal connection that is part of their human DNA.
Events are the social glue for associations and networking for members is an integral part of their membership. Continuing to deliver hybrid models into the future, will not only ensure associations keep the new members that have come onboard this year, but continue to welcome the new wave of membership that is essential for the sustainability of membership retention.