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Association Management Companies See an Uptick in Interest

Companies say they are seeing more inquiries as associations seek consulting and look to outsource functions once performed by staff

July 24, 2020
By Walt Williams
This article was first posted in CEO Update

Association management companies say they are seeing more inquiries from associations about providing services since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with many groups either seeking expertise in subjects where they lack experience or needing to outsource services previously provided by staff.

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Performing Due Diligence: How an Association Board of Directors Should Evaluate its Association Management Company

By Mike Dwyer, CAE, Association Headquarters & Paul Hanscom, CAE, Ewald Consulting

It’s not uncommon that an association board of directors will decide to take a harder look at its relationship with its association management company partner after a significant change has occurred. This could be a change in staff leadership, management fee adjustment, or shift in the scope of service. Some associations have governing documents that stipulate that a level of review is required on a given time cycle, e.g. every three years. And occasionally a particularly fastidious board member will ask when the board last performed such a review, claiming that it’s the board’s fiduciary duty to perform its “due diligence” to ensure the resources invested by the association in the services provided by its AMC are well spent.

Association boards should seek guidance on how best to fulfill their obligation of “fiduciary due diligence” to assess the association/AMC relationship.

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Targeting Online Content to Members through AI

Pradeepa Siva, Director of Business Development, Selfstudy


Every association has access to a goldmine of content that can be invaluable to its members  — content that advances their understanding of their profession and helps them become better at their jobs. In order to maximize the value of this content, it is necessary to deliver it in a highly personalized way —  acknowledging that each member has unique information needs and preferences and little time to waste on irrelevant material. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for trustworthy, up-to-date information, regardless of its source. And as our understanding of the novel coronavirus and its implications for health, safety and business is constantly evolving, resulting in a deluge of published content, quick access to the most relevant new information is more vital than ever.

But how does an association cull through the ever-expanding knowledge base of information assets relevant to members, then target each person with the right information at the opportune time? And how does an association make itself even more relevant to members by transforming those assets into learning activities — without employing a team of professional education specialists? 

Meet SelfStudy Inc. We are a learning optimization technology company offering professional societies the first AI-powered cloud platform for delivering personalized content and adaptive learning programs. Our AI tools also generate user analytics— so associations continually get better at: 1) delivering exactly what members want and need 2) creating learning opportunities based on members’ engagement with the delivered material. Additionally, SelfStudy’s tools can handle credit tracking and reporting and facilitate badging and certification.


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Virtual Events and the Attendee Experience: 4 Ideas

Colleen Bottorff, Inbound Marketing Specialist, MemberClicks


As event planners start tackling their first all-virtual event, one crossroad they tend to come
to is...how do I engage my attendees and give them an energetic experience 
without being able to see them??

It’s true that some of the activities you would normally execute in-person just aren’t possible with a virtual event. That said, there are a ton of ways to translate those activities into a virtual experience, or execute something completely different!

Here are a few ways we tackled attendee engagement at MC Thrive. Could any of these work for your virtual event?




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A New Way of Life at MGM

Stephanie Glanzer, CMP, SVP and Chief Sales Officer, MGM Resorts International


Without question, the last few months have been among the most challenging that any of us will face in our careers; so
many unknowns and so much rapid change. But I’ve also been incredibly inspired by the resiliency, creativity, and passion that has emerged throughout the hospitality and meetings industries, as we navigate this new normal.

 As MGM Resorts International continues to reopen its resorts in Las Vegas and throughout the country, our first priority continues to be the health and safety of our guests and employees.

Upon reopening, we rolled out a robust Seven-Point Health and Safety Plan designed to create a comfortable, healthy experience for our guests while still maintaining the excitement of Las Vegas. We believe that “Vegas done safely is still Vegas.”




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No Problems, Only Opportunities

Jeff Rose, Director of AMC Partnerships, Feathr


It’s Wednesday, March 11, 2020, and I’m traveling around the greater D.C. area for client meetings. I’m washing and sanitizing my hands at every possible turn and tapping elbows and clicking heels in greeting – rather than shaking hands – but, generally speaking, most folks are not particularly concerned at this point about the novel coronavirus.

As I’m looking for a place to park downtown, I get a call from our President and he asks whether I think we’ll still be able to host our live event there the following week. I respond enthusiastically that all my meetings have still taken place and that we’ll probably fine. My response may have been colored with what most of my colleagues would characterize as “my perpetual optimism,” but, as we all know now, I could NOT have been more wrong – and, in hindsight, I am a bit embarrassed at just how wrong I was.

The next day I flew home, and it was almost immediately apparent that our world was very truly turning upside down. Clients started canceling or postponing events, workforces started going remote, and I, personally, put myself into a 14-day lockdown after finally internalizing the severity of the situation and the fact that I’d put myself at high risk for exposure to the virus.



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Meet Smart. Meet Safe.

By Todd Marinko, Vice President, Marketing, PSAV



Regardless of what phase of reopening your state or country is in, our industry is forever changed due to the
impact of COVID-19. Social distancing, enhanced cleaning procedures, and conference calls have become part of our everyday lives.

But as we begin the return to live and hybrid meetings, what will those events look like?

To help kickstart this effort, PSAV has recently launched MeetSAFE – a set of guidelines to help the live event industry safely adapt to the changing landscape for meetings and events.






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Calgary Unveils Designs for $500M BMO Convention Centre Expansion

David Woodward, Executive Director, Calgary Tourism

Tourism Calgary, along with our partners at the Calgary Stampede and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), is thrilled to unveil the renderings of the expanded BMO Centre, which will become the largest convention facility in Western Canada. The expansion will also act as a catalyst for Calgary’s new Culture & Entertainment District.

“The addition of the BMO Centre expansion to the Culture & Entertainment District is critical to developing Calgary as a destination for visitors and meeting planners, and a great place to live for Calgarians,” says Cindy Ady, CEO Tourism Calgary. “We are proud of what our partners at Calgary Stampede and CMLC have designed and we know this facility and district will be significant additions to our city and our offerings to visitors.”



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Association Management Companies See an Uptick in Interest

 

Companies say they are seeing more inquiries as associations seek consulting and look to outsource functions once performed by staff

July 24, 2020
By Walt Williams
This article was first posted in CEO Update

Association management companies say they are seeing more inquiries from associations about providing services since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with many groups either seeking expertise in subjects where they lack experience or needing to outsource services previously provided by staff.

The pandemic has taken a toll on the economic models of many associations, and in some cases, they are turning to AMCs to fill in the holes left following layoffs. But AMC representatives say associations shouldn’t view their companies simply as a means to save money. Rather, those groups should take time to pin down what they want out of the partnership and be able to clearly communicate that.



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Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel

UTSA Travel Information

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How to Prioritize Your Never-Ending To-Do List

By Callie Walker of MemberClicks

Do you ever get so overwhelmed with work that you start to feel paralyzed? The to-dos keep coming, and you don’t even know where to begin. It’s ALL important, and it all HAS to get done. If so, you’re certainly not alone. Even if you’re an extremely organized person, it can be hard to determine what tasks to tackle first.If your to-do list is no longer cutting it, and prioritization is starting to become an issue, try this alternative approach to time and project management:

The Eisenhower Matrix 

Have you ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? (If you’re wondering if it was named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was!) 

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A Note from AMCI's 2020 Chair

A Note from AMCI's 2020 Chair
By Bennett Napier, M.S., CAE

I want to personally thank you, your member firm, and AMCI's strategic partners for the honor to serve as AMCI Board Chair in 2020.

My entire association management career (nearly 30 years) has been in the AMC arena. The AMC Model is all I know, and much like you, I don't take this great field for granted. The variety of industries, professions, and causes that we work with and lead change society on a daily basis.

The membership value that comes from AMCI's marketing of the AMC model, the sharing and camaraderie amongst peers, and the first-class business educational content offered through the Institute continue to reach new heights year after year.

Prior to serving on the AMC Institute board, I was a previous board chair of the Florida Society of Association Executives and also Board Chair of the FSAE Foundation; and a past president of the Tallahassee Society of Association Executives. Those experiences in ASAE allied society organizations provided me a strong appreciation of working collaboratively with other volunteers to uphold organizational mission and achieve long term vision.

The AMC Institute has been blessed with some wonderful volunteer board members over the years, and the 2020 board is no exception, with several newbies, who will challenge the status quo and bring the organization innovative ideas and fresh perspectives.

The 2020 Annual Meeting on February 12 – 14, will be here before we know it and it's already apparent that Long Beach, CA is pulling out all the stops to welcome our community and give us a world class event experience. The location is great for many of our members to get some sun during the winter season. The Annual Meeting Committee has done an outstanding job with the keynotes and breakout sessions. If you have not registered, please take the time to do so today.

And, don't forget to mark your calendars for August 7– 8, 2020 where AMC's Engaged! will be the precursor event to help celebrate ASAE's 100th Anniversary in Las Vegas.

I want to personally thank you and your member firms for your continued support of the Institute. The organization is in a good place, financially and structurally. This would not happen if not for the wonderful leadership and talent of our AMC Institute executive staff team. Our entire staff team at the Institute continues to amaze me in terms of the number of meaningful projects and outreach initiatives that are in progress.

I am a phone call or email away and I welcome any input you have during the course of this year.

Sincerely,



Bennett Napier, M.S., CAE
President/CEO of Partners in Association Management
AMC Institute 2020 Board Chair

Case Study: Girl Scouts Embracing Change

By Kellen Company

One of the strengths of the AMC model is its ability to meet evolving client needs, even in the midst of delivering against an existing scope of work. Here, Kellen shares their approach to the strategic reinvention of the Girl Scouts' Triennial Convention and the successful outcomes it delivered.

Challenge
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) contracted Kellen to assist in the planning, management, and production of its triennial national convention. The group needed a partner to provide the necessary operational support and strategic guidance to ensure the convention achieved its primary objective: continued growth of the Girl Scouts movement.

Solution
Kellen drew upon its deep event production expertise to design an audience experience that would reignite the passion for Girl Scouts across the globe. The convention utilized eight hotels and included a state-of-the-art main stage production featuring pyrotechnics, flutter-fetti, and a themed event "countdown" built for the opening ceremony. The audio-visual technology included video mapping and digital animation, all leveraged and managed by the Kellen team. Kellen coordinated the management of a crew of 120+ AV technicians required for all of the sessions, breakouts, and main stage live events. As the scope of the work grew, Kellen's experienced meeting planners provided training and support to further assist the new GSUSA conference planning team.

Results
  • The flagship event attracted close to 7,000 attendees from 147 countries and is the most significant driver of membership in GSUSA.
  • The event allowed GSUSA to reconnect, recruit, and deepen its ties to the international Girl Scouts community, ensuring the movement continues for years to come.
  • Featured at the event were VIPs and other well-known personalities, including a video welcome from Michelle Obama.
For more information on Kellen's approach and to see key moments from the convention, watch our 'A 'Day in the Life' of Association Strategic Membership Growth' video. In it, Kellen staff detail their work in reinvigorating the Girl Scouts' approach to member acquisition. You can view it here.

Five Tips to Make Your Speakers Shine

By MCI USA

At MCI we are conference planning professionals who work continuously with members and volunteers to ensure not only that conferences are successful, but also to enable volunteers to engage the highest and best use of their time during the conference planning process. Since MCI depends on speakers, in particular, to provide the high quality content which draws attendees to events, it is particularly important to assist them in every way possible to ensure that they are confident and prepared for their session on the day it takes place. Here are the five items below have helped MCI speakers significantly as they prepare their conference sessions.

1. Provide Content Experts for Content Questions

Used software copyright laws? Spectrum auction? The psychology of the legal workplace? Though we may not be knowledgeable on any of these topics, we have had phone conversations on all them before scrambling to refer the speaker to a more knowledgeable member of the association. Before you have to scramble, consider connecting your speakers with a volunteer member, perhaps from the Conference Committee, who can serve as their point of contact for those content-related questions. Just be sure to make it clear that all logistical questions and all forms should still be sent to you.

2. Turn Boring Reminders into Exciting Opportunities

Instead of sending the usual, "Reminder: Speaker PPTS Due Today", I often use subject lines like this:

"Mobile App Launches Next Week! Submit a Resource for Our Attendees Today!"

This is really just a deadline reminder in disguise, but it places the emphasis on how speakers can engage their audience before the conference even begins, building a sense of excitement about the upcoming event. MCI has actually had speakers who were not originally planning to submit materials decide to do so after seeing an email like this — they didn't want to miss out on a great opportunity!

3. Hold a Pre-Conference Play-by-Play Phone Call

Set up a phone call to review a play-by-play of what speakers can expect before, during, and after their sessions. If you have moderators, be sure to include them too. You can provide information on when to arrive, who will be introducing them, and how they will be given time notifications. Your speakers will thank you for the clear directions, and you will be happy on-site when speakers are prepared and confident and have fewer last minute concerns.

4. Establish a Procedure for Handling On-site Issues

Whether a speaker's USB drive corrupts, they forget to ship their handouts, or they can't find their co-presenters (all things that have happened to us), it is best to have a clear procedure for managing major and minor issues on-site. This is as simple as giving speakers instructions for reaching you during the conference. Make yourself available by email and ask speakers to see another member of staff if they need to find you quickly.

5. Say Thank You Early and Often

This is certainly a polite and necessary thing to do, but remember – it pays off for you, too! Speakers who feel appreciated are happier, and happier speakers are, in our experience, more flexible and more apt to go above and beyond for your association. Thank them before, during, and after the event, for the time they spent developing their presentation, the materials they provide, and the efforts they went to in order to travel and give their presentation.

ROI Tools to Support your Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover

By lone Terrio, Marketing & Communications Director, The Harrington Company

You have a new client coming in during your company’s busiest time of year. Your staff is already stretched to the limit and you are onboarding a new client while hiring to fill the additional staffing needs. Now, you need to make time to train a new employee. For a busy AMC leader, this can feel daunting. You and your team are already working longer than normal days. At the same time, having a good onboarding process and providing the right training can impact how your new employee engages with your company and how long you can retain them.


According to “Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover and Tools for Calculating ROI” a white paper from the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers (IESP), a Strategic Industry Group of the Incentive Marketing Association; Bureau of Labor Statistics show that on average, 27% (nearly a third) of employees, voluntarily leave their jobs each year. This results in their employers having to spend up to 20% of a person’s annual salary to replace each employee.

Not only is this expensive, 78% of association managers view vacant positions as unproductive, particularly vacancies in membership-related positions says PNP Staffing Group in their 2019 “Association Salaries and Staffing Trends” report.

With those numbers, and a tight labor market with less than 4% unemployment, it makes sense to have an organizational plan to manage employee retention. The IESP white paper outlines four concepts for reducing turnover and provides tools to help calculate costs.

Calculating the cost of employee turnover
Turnover costs include direct or “hard” costs such as advertising, overtime, temporary replacements, background checks, physical exams, travel, relocation, and employee referrals. There are also “soft” costs for time spent or lost through lower productivity, loss of morale, loss of customer contacts, interviewing, onboarding and training new hires to consider.

Identifying the reasons for turnover
“When looking at employee turnover, you’re not just looking at why one person leaves and what it costs to replace that person, you’re looking for bigger trends or issues the company can address to reduce turnover across the organization,” says Brant Dolan, CPIM, director business development, Quality Incentive Company, and IESP board member.

“Employers need to understand what employees like about working there, but also what frustrates or disappoints employees so they can address system-wide improvements as well,” Dolan explained.

From this information the supervisor and the organization can consider strategies for removing the obstacles to increase satisfaction and reduce frustrations.

Developing strategies to address the reasons for turnover
According to the IESP, once the reasons for turnover have been identified and prioritized, management should concentrate on addressing the top five. For example, if an employee has a high workload and feels undervalued, you could provide an incentive to achieve a stretch goal or look at reorganizing workloads to reduce the burden.

PNP Staffing Group noted that organizations successful in finding and holding onto the best staff in a competitive marketplace follow talent management best practices that are key to their success. Leaders are hearing from candidates that several elements are essential in making an organization a “go to” place to work. These include: managers are held accountable, performance is valued and rewarded, staff work in teams, the organization invests in coaching and training, clear opportunities are offered for professional growth, workplace is productive and supportive with clear opportunities for growth – and of course – a consistent onboarding process.

Calculating the ROI of reducing turnover
The IESP white paper comes with eight calculator tools to help managers measure everything from the costs of turning over each employee such as advertising the job, hiring, and training to the costs and ROI of the turnover reduction strategies such as reward and recognition programs. According to the IESP, organizations that measure their costs and ROI find the investment made to reduce turnover is typically much less than turnover cost.

You can download the white paper and calculators by visiting the IESP website.

Looking to make a new hire? Visit the new AMC Institute Talent Center today and take advantage our employer resources. Find guides, tips, and articles on how best to manage your hiring process. And, don’t forget to visit the AMC Institute job board – the only job board dedicated to helping the AMC industry find and secure talent. AMCs will benefit from flexible, affordable pricing options and messaging specific to active and passive job seekers. Enjoy intro pricing for a limited time only.

Travel Trends Index: Strong Domestic Leisure Travel Carries Weaker Business, Int'l Inbound Travel

US Travel Association

Travel to and within the United States grew 3% year-over-year in August, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s latest Travel Trends Index (TTI), marking the industry’s 116th straight month of growth.

The bright spot in the TTI was the strength of the domestic leisure travel segment, which expanded 4% while vacation intentions reached their highest level in 2019 thus far. However, forward-looking bookings and search data indicate there may be uncertainty on the horizon for the domestic segment: the Leading Travel Index (LTI), the TTI’s predictive element, projects domestic travel growth will soften to just 1.8% in the coming six months.

Domestic travel as a whole grew 3.4%, dragged down slightly by a weakening domestic business travel segment (1.2%), though business travel is expected to pick up again and expand 1.6% over the next six months.

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When the Going Gets Disruptive, AMCs Get Innovative

By Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE – Owner/CEO, Essentient Association Management

You've probably heard the expression "innovate or die" somewhere along the way. Maybe it was in the trenches working 12-hour days or possibly out on the streets trying to drum up some clients for your newly launched association management company. Often attributed to Peter Drucker, it makes me think of a caveman and the invention of fire, or the wheel. There is something primal, yet exciting about that phrase.

I recently participated in a panel discussion at AMCs Engaged in Columbus, Ohio. The topic was about how and why AMCs have to be innovators in order to up their game, keep their clients and maintain a sustainable business. Being an innovator is often the difference between a best in class enterprise or, just a commodity. And seriously, who wants to be viewed as a run of the mill commodity? Not this AMC.

About ten years ago our largest client approached us with a challenge. A commercial real estate association, they were the 8th largest of 54 North American chapters and wanted to grow their young professionals' program.

Enter the disruption: About a year earlier the association had launched at 35 years of age and under program to help grow the membership and address the cycling out of older members. They wanted to know from us if we could help them develop a mentorship program that would attract and retain the association's Developing Leaders while engaging senior members and enabling them to give back.

The problem was, the mentors were very busy C-suite executives and could not commit to a lot of time.

Our client suggested a dating site-like platform that would match mentors and mentees and facilitate meetings over a 6-month period of time. In other words, this was not going to be your grandmother's mentorship program featuring lengthy application forms, hour and hours of volunteers poring over spreadsheets to search data sets, and staff attempting to manually match column A to column B.

Enter the innovation: Working with our vision and get it done mindset, our web developer built an in-the-cloud solution with a mentee-facing front end and a mentor portal back end. Sandwiched in between was a beautiful interface that showcased our mentors and invited our pre-approved mentees to take part. Our pilot was launched in February of 2010.

20 random mentees were drawn from a large pool of Developing Leaders who expressed interest in being a part of the pilot. On an assigned day and time, they were invited to select up to two of the 20 mentors for meet ups. Like the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, mentees worked quickly to book appointments with their preferred mentors and all available timeslots were gone in less than an hour.

Applying the principles of flash mentoring (or micro mentoring as it is otherwise known), mentorship matches involved meeting up over coffee, over lunch or in a boardroom. These weren't job interviews or sales pitches but an opportunity to connect and network with some of the biggest names in the sector. In some cases, these meet ups evolved into longer term business relationships.

Following a successful run of the pilot, the program grew and we invited our users (mentors and mentees) to provide their feedback so that the platform could be continuously improved, made even more robust and easy to use.

Enhancements were constantly being implemented and mentor / mentee resources added. And the Developing Leader membership expanded exponentially taking this cohort from 160 to over 600, and the association went from being 8th largest chapter in North America to 2nd largest.

It was around the 7-year mark that other associations started to take notice including the U.S.-based association of whom our client was a chapter. Because of our client’s success, they wanted to make the platform available to all of their chapters. The problem was, it wasn't packaged that way.

Enter the partnership: Working with our web developers (they were also some pretty awesome code writers) we formed a partnership so that we could develop a stand-alone product that all associations and AMCs could access. Of course, there was the market research, focus groups and pricing strategies that had to be completed but in fall 2017 we launched Mentorship Rocket, a cloud-based solution that associations have been waiting for. Since then we have signed up several Mentorship Rocket clients in Canada and the U.S. plus, as a bonus, our association clients get access to our platform for free. This helps them to build value for their members just as we have built value for our associations.

As an AMC we continue to seek innovations and develop solutions for our client associations. These may not be as big and bold as Mentorship Rocket but they can be just as impactful if we can help them to overcome challenges, turn a corner or embrace disruption.

We are still an AMC first, but it makes us feel good to know that, because of our innovation, we have been able to develop a product that benefits the sector in a really special way.

Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE is the founder and owner of Essentient Association Management, a Burlington, Ontario, Canada-based AMC. Constance is the co-founder and current President of the Canadian Chapter of the AMC Institute and sits on the Board of the AMC Institute. She is also a founder and partner of Mentorship Rocket (www.mentorshiprocket.com), a cloud-based mentorship platform designed for associations. Constance can be reached at [email protected]

Are You Ready for Real ID?

What You Need to Know About REAL ID

On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement the final phase of REAL ID enforcement, requiring Americans to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of authenticated ID to go through airport security checkpoints.

REAL ID refers to a set of security standards established by Congress in 2005 for card issuance, card design and application processing that individual states must follow when issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification; most REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses feature a star in the upper-right corner.

However, an estimated 99 million Americans (39%) do not have any form of identification (e.g. REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID or an enhanced driver’s license) that will be accepted after October 1, 2020. Furthermore, many Americans (57%) are unaware of the October 1, 2020 deadline for enforcement. Air travel risks being seriously disrupted if millions of passengers are turned away on October 1, 2020 for not having the necessary documents to fly.

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How to Design Smarter Learning Experiences

Recently, I listened to a Leading Learning podcast that featured Connie Malamed a learning experience design consultant. Being in the LMS industry and seeing all of the different ways our clients design and present their eLearning programs, I always find topics like these interesting to share.

Visual Design 

The podcast kicked off with talking about visual design — visuals can be used to express ideas and concepts with so many different ways to use visual to depict scenarios. eLearning Industry listed 6 reasons why visuals are the most powerful aspect of learning:

  • Helps store information longer
  • Make communication quicker and simpler
  • Aid better comprehension
  • Act as simulators for emotions
  • Drive motivation
  • Unsuitable visuals equal unhappy learners
  • Cognitive Load

Connie then went on to talk about 'cognitive load,' which she describes as the total amount of mental activity imposed on working memory in any one instant. She's concluded that working memory — the aspect of our minds that is conscious where we manipulate information — dominates everything we do in terms of learning. It is easy to overload our working memory, so we must be careful to not present a learner with a lot of interactive parts or too much information as they can become overloaded and drained.

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A Few Ideas for Supporting Association Chapter Leaders

By Colleen Bottorff of MemberClicks

It’s easy for communication to break down between the national organization and leaders at various chapter organizations. People get busy, often chapter leaders are volunteers, and trying to keep a dozen (or more) of them all on the same page takes a lot of collaboration and coordination.

So, what do you do? How do you support association chapter leaders from afar, ensuring that they feel like they’re being taken care of and have the autonomy to manage their chapter?We have a few thoughts:

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