Archive for the 'Meetings' Category

17
Aug
15

Don’t be an Association Hoarder: Use Professional Organizer Techniques to Revamp Your Programs

John Ricco

John Ricco, vice president, Partners in Association Management

This month’s guest blog post is by John Ricco, vice president, Partners in Association Management. It originally ran on Partners Preceptors, a blog by Partners in Association Management.

Boxes. In the association world, we know boxes – literally and figuratively. We check them off our to-do lists; we’re encouraged to “think outside” them; and we pack them full for conventions and meetings. The problem with association hoarders is that we often hold those boxes (both the literal and figurative ones) as sacred objects not to be moved, touched or heaven forbid – tossed.  But do not be afraid to hoist your boxes overhead and with a casual tilt, dump the contents for a fresh perspective on your organization’s programs and services.

Professional organizers (yes, there is such a thing, and of course, they have their own association) tell us the best way get organized and obtain a clear train of thought is to start anew. We’ve all seen an episode (or 10) of the “Hoarding” television show where the unsuspecting hoarder is thrust into an intervention where family, friends and professionals attempt to convince them to let go of a house full of plastic tubs of expired grocery coupons, garage sale “treasures” and the like. In these extreme cases, the organizers try to convince the hoarder to remove everything from the house and then decide what is important enough to go back in.

Consider trying the same approach with your association’s programs and services. We recently did this with one of our association clients with fantastic success. The group’s convention had gotten stale and something was missing. So we overhauled the event by dumping the box out and started fresh. The process is basic but complex at the same time. How do you go about it? Using a convention as an example:

1) Identify:

    • The “MUST haves” (education and networking)
    • The “LIKE to haves” (that $30,000 ultra-luxe up-lit evening networking lounge)
    • The dumpster items (the ice sculpture “vodka luge”)

2) Determine where the “MUST haves” will go back in your box.
3) See what room is left for the “LIKE to haves.”
4) Throw the rest in the dumpster.
5) Get buy-in from the appropriate stakeholders.

With a good deal of apprehension and uncertainty, we changed our date patterns, nixed receptions, added luncheons, turned the schedule on its head and added new, fun networking events – all with the goal of increasing the experience for “regular” attendees and exhibitors. The end result was rave reviews from all attendees (except for one or two people – you know who they are). Most first-time attendees said “sign me up for next year.”  Exactly what association pros want to hear.

We are now using the same approach for another group that has been experiencing lackluster performance with their affinity programs. We are in the process of identifying:

    • The “MUST haves” (What products do the members absolutely need for their businesses to succeed?)
    • The “LIKE to haves” (Are there “cutting edge” or new products they don’t yet know they need?)
    • The dumpster items (What programs have run their course and no longer deliver value?)

We’ll then go through steps two to five above; we expect results similar to those we experienced with the convention.

There has been much discussion throughout the past few years regarding the relevance of associations and the future of associations in today’s work and professional climate. Hoarders will not survive.

Don’t wait for the camera crew and intervention team.  Don’t be an association hoarder!

21
Jul
15

10 Networking Apps For Event Attendees

Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo

Daniel Mendelson, Bizzabo

This month’s guest post is by Daniel Mendelson of Bizzabo. It was originally posted on July 16.

Editor’s Note: By now, you all know I’m a social media/technology addict. So, I was so excited to learn about these apps that I had to share with you! These could help your attendees have a more meaningful networking experience.

According to Mobile Statistics, people spend on average 23 full days a year on their phone. Imagine if only a fraction of that time was spent on networking apps. In this post you will find a list of some great networking apps perfect for event attendees, which will take their networking success to the next level!

  1. Charlie: Have a meeting? Don’t stress! This networking app sends you information on attendees you might meet before the event. You won’t have to remember details about other event attendees because Charlie does all the research and preparation for you.
  2. Bizzabo: Bizzabo’s networking success platform is truly one of a kind. In addition to a total integration with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, this networking platform allows you to engage in one-on-one messaging with other event attendees in order to help you make the most out of your event networking experience.
  3. Namerick: As featured in BusinessInsider and the Huffington Post, Namerick is a must-have networking app. If you are one of those people who can never seem to remember names, Namerick is for you. Using repetition and mnemonics, Namerick will help you keep track of the names of other attendees you meet at an event.
  4. CamCard: Now you can easily manage and organize the business cards you receive at an event. CamCard extracts relevant contact information from business cards and imports them into your smartphone. The sheer number of business card apps attests to the importance of adding one to your networking app portfolio. Take a look at SamCard, WorldCardMobile and ScanBizCards for some other options.
  5. CityHour: Do you have some downtime at the conference you’re attending? Are you interested in networking right away? CityHour is one of our networking apps mentions because it connects you with those willing to meet within the next two hours, who are within a 50-mile radius of your location and who share a common industry and meeting goal.
  6. inDecision: Can’t decide whether to approach the big-name conference speaker? Every event attendee has to make decisions that can make or break his or her networking success. Through pros and cons lists and organizing your decision options, inDecision can help you make the right networking choice.
  7. Contxts: If you are looking to share and receive contact information in the quickest way possible, this app is for you. Contxts is a tool that helps you connect with other business professionals by streamlining and organizing the exchange of contact information through SMS messaging.
  8. About.me: This networking app gives you the opportunity to tell your professional story and personalize the way you are presented. About.me has detailed statistics on who interacts with your profile. You can use this networking app to track how popular you are among your network.
  9. Switch: We know that many event attendees go to events hoping to find new job opportunities. Switch is a networking app that can help attendees find the perfect job. It connects job seekers with hiring managers – not head hunters or recruiters.
  10. Spotcard: Discover LinkedIn members at the next conference you attend with this efficient networking app. Using your LinkedIn profile and contact information, this app creates a shareable digital card business card that makes your networking connections easier and more meaningful.

 

16
Jun
15

Is it time for an event sponsorships makeover?

Tara Ericson

Tara Ericson, group vice president at Naylor Association Solutions

This month’s guest blog post is by Tara Ericson, group vice president for Naylor Association Solutions, where she oversees group publishers and specialized industry market teams. It was originally published on Association Adviser.

Do you have a three-tiered (platinum, gold, silver) event sponsorship offering? Have you offered the same sponsorship opportunities year after year? Is your sponsorship revenue stagnant or declining?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your exhibit and event sponsorship offerings may need a facelift.

Experts say 85 percent of a trade show’s revenue comes from selling exhibit space. The other 15 percent comes from sponsorship and advertising. According to Velvet Chainsaw, however, associations are shifting more effort into capitalizing on trade show sponsorships and advertising in response to vendors’ desires to reach potential customers in more meaningful, creative ways. Furthermore, vendors are relying on associations to come up with those creative ways to reach attendees before making a sponsorship investment.

If you’re already responsible for multiple parts of planning and executing an event, your sponsorships are likely on auto drive, and a total reinvention probably seems daunting. But don’t let the idea of reinventing sponsorships intimidate you. Here are five tips for growing your event sponsorship revenue.

Customization is in demand.

Based on the 2014 Association Benchmarking Report, only 42.8 percent (of association executives surveyed) said they were trying to customize their advertising/sponsorship programs to a company’s specific needs, and only 10.1 percent fully customize each sponsorship opportunity.

We encourage you to take a more sponsor-centric approach when developing your event sponsorship offerings. Building flexibility into your event sponsorship campaign allows the sponsor to tailor its messaging and branding more effectively toward your attendees.

Divide your sponsor prospects into different buckets to segment those prospects who are most likely to participate in a customized event sponsorship package. Use a consultative sales strategy in which you try to match your association’s event objectives and education track with your sponsor’s objectives and branding.

A good example of a customized of sponsorship might look like this: An event sponsor purchases a sponsorship package that includes a full-page ad in the association’s magazine, adjacent to an article related to its industry segment, that runs prior to the trade show. The ad directs readers to the sponsor’s booth. At the event, the sponsorship package includes signage at a specific education session that reaches the sponsor’s targeted attendees, permission to distribute a leave-behind, such as a key for each attendee, at the education sessions that will unlock a prize at the sponsor’s booth, and an online banner in the event’s daily e-newsletter.

Keep it fresh.

Associations that host events always need to look for and offer the next new thing in sponsorships to keep their event fresh for vendors. Combine innovative ideas with unique sponsorship opportunities to create new sponsorship revenue streams.

  • Main Lobby DJ Sponsorship: Music creates great ambiance, especially if it’s happy and upbeat. This approach allows the sponsor to have signage on the DJ table and to insert its own audio commercial every 10 minutes.
  • Cocktail Ice Luge Sponsorship: Sculpted ice structure with the association logo and sponsor logo. This provides great exposure in a fun and entertaining environment.
  • Product Developers Reception: An invitation-only gathering held during the larger show, at which guests hand-picked by the sponsor for their interest in the sponsor’s products can view a prototype and speak with the sponsor about its offerings.

Go REALLY BIG.

Have two or three high profile, exclusive sponsorship opportunities for vendors willing to invest a large sum to reach your members. Too often associations shy away from asking for the big dollars for fear of upsetting their membership or a lack of confidence that they will sell. But if you don’t offer it, you will never know if you are leaving money on the table.

The key to successfully selling these event sponsorships is to keep them big, loud and exclusive, which can be fun for you and for the vendor.

These loud sponsorship opportunities should come with the honor of having the sponsors’ brand in every single part of your event. Make a huge splash with marquee sponsorships so your vendor is portrayed as the king of the event, and no one is left to wonder who the premier sponsor was.

RT_SPONSORSHIPBut don’t forget the little guys!

While going big with your top sponsors, don’t forget to create some low-budget options for new companies entering the marketplace or for companies of any size that haven’t been doing business with you.

Associations should work with sponsors to find a price point that is mutually agreeable when introducing new event sponsorship offerings or when working with a first-time sponsor. However, if you offer a discounted rate, always note the original price on the invoice and reflect the savings so your sponsor will anticipate having to pay the full price upon renewal.

Give sponsors what they really want

Your greatest asset is your membership, and your sponsors are willing to pay for time with members. Sponsors appreciate the branding opportunities that signage and swag offer, but being able to talk directly with their target market is the most coveted benefit your custom sponsorships can offer. Meeting with vendors at events saves members some legwork and often creates awareness of solutions they didn’t know exist. Incorporate access to your members into your sponsorship packages through appointment-based sessions, promotional emails, print and digital media, VIP cocktail parties and speaking opportunities.

09
Jun
15

Time to breathe…and think long-term

Strategy-Small1Meeting professionals are some of the busiest people I know.

But thanks to periods of economic stability, for the first time in a decade, these always-on-go folks will have time to take a breath and think strategically, according to Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook, 2015 Spring Edition. It was developed in partnership with Visit Denver.

This year has been, and will continue to be, defined by intelligent growth for the meetings and events industry, the report found.

For starters, 60 percent of survey respondents predict an increase in live events, while 56 percent predict an increase in virtual events. Part of the reason: Young professionals are realizing the value of face-to-face networking.

Other key findings:

  • 74 percent of those surveyed predict better business conditions.
  • Industry professionals plan to use mobile apps more strategically this year, including location-based technology for session check-ins and networking.
  • Budgets are still a concern, so organizations plan to host more local meetings, compress meetings into shorter times and increase use of technology.

“It takes opportunity, resources and the desire to be able to think strategically to consider how to improve relationships and to be smarter with how folks use the tools in their toolbox,” said Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter), president of Association Insights — the company that conducts the Meetings Outlook research. “Now is one of those rare times.”

While this is good news, opportunities also bring challenges. For instance, it’s a sellers’ market, so meeting professionals will need to contend with shorter lead times. As such, pop-up meetings are becoming more common. And sometimes, when attendance is low, venues tack on charges.

shaking-handsIn addition, with the increase in live events comes the need to build face-to-face communication skills (much tougher than communicating behind a screen).

Budgets are increasing, but with a planned uptick in live events, resources won’t go as far. At the same time, food and beverage costs have increased, so organizations will need to come up with creative budget solutions (i.e. purchasing their own AV equipment, rather than renting from a venue.) The key: During budget planning, think long-term and out of the box.

It’s an exciting time for meeting professionals, and to help foster success, MPI lists some tips in its report:

  • Offer attendees more engagement while gathering more data through your apps to help inform future meeting design.
  • Crowdsource: Publicly display social media posts from attendees, such as comments and photos.
  • Make your eRFPs pop with clear details, and consider working with CVBs to streamline the process.

“All of this is opening a new era for meetings, as attendee behavior data is going to explode — and it will help in shaping meeting design in multiple areas,” said Christian Savelli, senior director of business intelligence and research for MPI.

What do you think? Does your organization have a strategic plan? Are you doing things differently? Let us know.

03
Jun
15

Is your organization mobile app ready?

Whether or not your association currently utilizes a mobile app for its annual meeting or as part of a larger, annual engagement strategy, the question remains: Just how ready is your organization to deploy a mobile app?

Recently, I had the opportunity to utilize my mobile app prowess – as a former education director and current learning strategist – to partner with mobile engagement company Results at Hand to develop a simple, 16-question Mobile App Readiness Assessment.

Today, you are invited to take part in this brief assessment at no cost to you. With only 16 questions to answer, you’ll receive a unique score and relevant resources tailored to your results immediately upon completion. Assessment topics include intended audience, preferred features, adoption rationale and more.

The results from this assessment will be used to draw conclusions about the current state of mobile practices within the association community, and will offer thoughtful insights and actionable recommendations that may be used by organizations like yours in future benchmarking and strategic planning efforts.

1367683_origThere is no compensation for responding to this assessment; however, all respondents who complete it are eligible for a complimentary copy of the final report resulting from this research. If you choose to participate, please answer all questions as honestly and as completely as possible. Participation is strictly voluntary and you may discontinue participation at any time. Completion of the assessment will indicate your willingness to participate in this study.

Thank you, in advance, for taking part in this valuable research. Should you have questions or require additional information, please contact me.

To begin, click this link. As you complete the assessment, please select the one response—unless otherwise indicated—that best describes your answer to each question. All reported data will be shared in aggregate form only. No individual data will be released.

Thank you again for your participation. We look forward to sharing the results with you later this year. In the meantime, if you’re craving more mobile resources, check out these 17 Stats for the Mobile Skeptic or these 2015 Strategic Mobile Trends for Associations and Event Leaders.

28
May
15

Bonus Content – Event Garde e-news – June edition

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q & A with Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q: It’s a beautiful summer day in Michigan. What would we most likely find you doing? 
A: I hear it is supposed to be nice, mild weather this summer: my favorite! You will either find me taking adventurous walks with the kiddos at one of Greater Lansing’s awesome parks or enjoying a cool summer drink on the back deck with my hubby.

Q: Would you rather swim in a pool, lake or ocean…and why? 
A: If I can see my toes, I vote for the lake!  There is nothing that shouts “Pure Michigan” like wading around in one of our GREAT lakes.

Q: What’s your favorite summer vacation spot?
A: Kayaking is the best (usually with a kiddo riding along).  So relaxing!

Q: If you could be a summer cocktail, what would your name be and what would you taste like?
A: “Summer Chill!”  Mint, gin, sprite, raspberries and blueberries.

Q: What’s your favorite summer smell? Summer taste? Summer feel?
A: Smelling the lilacs in spring reminds me of the green, warm summer right around the corner. BBQ chicken with fresh fruit is a summer must. I’m not one who likes to be hot, so a cool breeze on an early morning walk is the best feeling of summer!

12
May
15

Left brain vs. right brain: Which wins the event planning game?

Brain hemispheres sketchSo apparently I’m right brained. At least according to this test.

I guess that’s not surprising considering I’m a writer. But I’m also extremely detail-oriented and analyze everything, so I think I’m a good mix. Yeah. I’ll go with that.

While most people think with mostly their left side or mostly their right side, it’s crucial to have a bit of both.

And so, I encourage you to take the aforementioned into account after reading this sentence: New research by London and Partners, the official convention bureau of London, and MICEBOOK.com indicates that event planners aren’t as creative as they thought.

Yep. Research suggests the event management industry is filled with left-brained thinkers.

Samantha Whitehorne recently wrote an enlightening Associations Now blog post on the research. And I encourage you fellow right-brain thinkers to get a chuckle from it.

For the study, more than 400 event planners had their brains analyzed to see if they’re more “rationale left brained” or “emotional right brained” thinkers. And while most felt they performed their jobs creatively, only 39 percent were indeed considered creative thinkers.

Maybe that’s because, according to the study, only 34 percent of respondents said they’re given time to think out of the box and only 32 percent said creativity is rewarded. Furthermore, more than half of the respondents said the budget just didn’t support risk taking.

2000px-Rubik's_cube.svg“Ours is an industry within which logic and in-depth planning are absolutely critical to successful outcomes,” said Tracy Halliwell, director of business tourism and major events at London and Partners. “Creativity and innovation are growing ever more important as clients demand event activations that set them apart from their competitors and deliver enduring memories for consumers. The experience itself is now what drives the event, but it’s only by combining pioneering ideas with concrete solutions that we can truly surprise and delight.”

So what does the right brain vs. left brain debate mean for event planning?

Here’s a good summary from Cathy Key in a recent Event Manager blog post:

Left-brained people tend to be detail oriented and thrive on data. So event ROI is important. Also, they don’t like to take risks, so most likely, they’ll create a road map for events.

In contrast, right-brain thinkers bring to the table a flare for ingenuity and creativity. They look at the big picture and thrive on feedback and emotion to measure success. Event ROI is less important to right-brain people, who are willing to trust their gut instinct.

“While we need the analysis and fact-finding powers of the left brain, when it comes to motivating our team, ourselves and our attendees, we need right-brain thinking,” Key wrote. “We need to have an emotional connection to our events if we are going to really enjoy our work. When we are connected to WHY we are involved with an event, working late nights and pulling out all the stops is natural. Without the WHY all you have is hard work.”

Another way to look at it: The left side of the brain sets the goals and the right side finds the purpose.

creativity2But a good event planner needs to think with both sides of the brain. While creativity reaps huge rewards, we need left-brain thinkers to keep us in check. And so, event management teams should comprise both types of thinkers.

“While time constraints and restricted budgets can sometimes hinder creativity, a balance is always needed between the creative and the logical,” said Chetan Shah, founder and CEO of MICEBOOK.com. “Great teams bring together a mix of personalities, approaches to work and creative or logical attributes. Whether someone is left or right-brained, their attributes and strengths should be encouraged and nurtured to ensure their events are spectacular, both rationally and emotionally.”

Take the test and let us know. Are you left- or right-brained?




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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