Annual meetings or conferences continue to provide enormous value and opportunities for associations. By their very nature, associations exist for the education, stimulation and intercommunication of their members. Big live events are an obvious vehicle to dole out these benefits in spades.
And let’s not forget one big reason why these gatherings are not going away anytime soon: many associations rely on them as a main plank in their fundraising model. The budget moves from black to red at the annual meeting.
At the same time, however, there are pressures. For one thing, there is increasing competition; members have more meeting options, more ways to learn and network than ever before. There’s also the challenge of catering to multi-generational audiences that have very diverse tastes when it comes to what they think a big event should offer them.
All these factors are driving the continual reinvention of big meetings. Here are some of the big trends you should be aware of
Why put all of your eggs in the basket of the big event that lasts for just a few days of the year? There is now a concerted effort by association event organizers to extend the impact of the event by designing it to be a catalyst for an ongoing conversation.
This is not a new idea at all, but it has been an under-implemented idea. Especially when you consider that we now have the technology available to make this easier than ever before. Mobile apps, webcasts and social media have given us the ability to create a community that starts before the event kicks off, and continues well after it’s over — and then builds toward the next event. The goal is continuous engagement, supported and invigorated by occasional live events.
The hurdle to making this a reality is not any lack of tools, it is the challenge of the time and planning required to manage the community. The potential benefits, however, surely warrant making this a priority and staffing for it.
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