Association Meetings, Sweat The Details

Best Practices : Article

It’s meeting season. Over the past three weeks, our clients have held nearly a dozen meetings and conferences of all types—with over 2500 total attendees.

We’ve had some great success with our meetings and events in recent weeks. As I think about why, it struck me that there are a few general rules that associations should keep in mind when holding events of any size:

Sweat the details

More than anything, an event is the time that an association’s management of operations is on display. Whether its not having the badges done correctly, not having enough wayfinding signs or not considering how a buffet line will queue up, the “little things” matter tremendously in events. Be sure to assign senior staff to oversee them.

Lead your members

It’s great to “give the people what they want.” But Henry Ford once said “If I had listened to what customers demanded, I would have given them a faster horse.” Don’t be afraid to innovate with your agenda and bring in speakers that challenge your members’ thinking.

Know the purpose

There’s a difference between a “members meeting” with a focus on networking and interaction versus a “conference” with a focus on education. Know your objective for your meeting and plan the agenda accordingly—if it’s the former, be sure to give adequate time in the agenda for networking and facilitate communications amongst the attendees.

Say thank you

More than any other task in association life, meetings are an “emotional crescendo” with a defined end point. Don’t let that end point go by without thanking those that made it happen—from the association staff to the hotel staff. If the hotel staff and catering sales were exceptional, be sure to send a note and small token of your appreciation—often times, you’ll be back to the same hotel down the road.

Keep the momentum

If the event is an annual one, build on the success by starting the planning cycle for the next event immediately. Don’t get into a post event lull and create a time crunch the following year.

Do you have any tips or comments from a recent meeting you attended? Please feel free to comment below—I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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