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Know Your Competitive Advantage

Know Your Competitive Advantage: The Experts Focus on it; Most Businesses Miss It

Warren Buffet was asked, “What is the single most important thing you look for when you invest in a company?” He replied without hesitation, “Competitive advantage.”  His practice was never to invest in a business that did not have a competitive advantage and a strong management team.  Jack Welch, CEO of G. E. back when it was a strong company, said, “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”  This focus provided tremendous results for these two geniuses of yesterday, and the empires they built.

Yet as I travel around for speaking, both nationally and internationally, to business leaders of all size companies, I always ask,” How often do you review/consider/evaluate your company’s competitive advantage?”  Remarkably, the two most common honest answers are “never” and “once a year.”  How often do you consider that question for your AMC?  and your client associations?

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Join us in Orlando, FL for the 2021 AMCI Annual Meeting!

Dear AMCI Member,

Yes, the rumors you have heard are true! We are optimistically moving forward with an in-person meeting, June 2-4, 2021 at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Resort, Orlando, Florida.

The decision to shift this meeting to June rather than convene in February virtually was based on the clear message voiced by our AMC members.  The AMC community is universally challenged by today’s ever-changing landscape.  You are in search of solutions and best practices that will set your firm up for success in meeting the needs of your clients today and in the future.  Yesterday is old news.  Your association clients are looking to you for thought leadership on how to drive past adversity toward stability and growth.  With your insight, AMCI’s Annual Meeting Committee has carefully designed Universal Change and the Evolving AMC: Innovation. Culture. Profit., a 2021 Annual Meeting that will push us all past our 2020 pivot! 

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Future-Focused: How AMPED Met Virtual Meetings Head-On

The word of the year for successful associations? Pivot.

For AMPED and our association clients who rely on annual conferences and trade shows to deliver education and grow membership, 2020 was a chance to explore virtual meeting options, try something new without fear of failure, and, yes, pivot.

It started in March, when the pandemic stay-at-home orders hit just weeks before the annual conference of one of our newest association clients. Staff immediately moved the meeting online and partnered with a virtual platform company to deliver four days of education with both live and prerecorded content. The result was a successful event whose net income was 28 times higher than was budgeted for the original in-person meeting!

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Emerging Leaders: 5 Tools for Leadership Development and AMC Career Advancement

Emerging leaders at the January 2021 AMCI Engagement Lounge reported that receiving new assignments is most important to their AMC career advancement, as they seek broader understanding of their firm’s client operations and key players. This theme was on full display during the interactive session, which avoided the traditional webinar format in favor of direct conversations between panelists, AMCI members, and emerging AMC leaders.

Hosted by the AMCI Emerging Leaders Task Force, featured panelists were: Constance Wrigley-Thomas, CAE, Owner/CEO, Essentient Association Management & Events; Erin Fuller, FASAE, CAE, MPA, President, Association Solutions, MCI USA; Lane Velayo, CAE, CEO, Synergos Association Management; and Megan Woodburn, CAE, Owner & Founder, Strategic Account Management.

The program was centered around a series of case studies that challenged participants in small groups to use an AMC lens while examining different issues such as scope changes and contract reduction requests, third-party contractor management, and wavering staff allegiances. The panelists emphasized that to grow as a leader within the AMC model, staff must function as consultants and educators, bringing the broader association landscape to the boardroom and equipping board directors with the knowledge to make good decisions.

During the process, the AMC emerging leaders were encouraged to transcend their professional titles by embracing the challenges of their executive teams to actively support resolution development. As Lane Valeyo posed to the group, “Are you picking your head up?”

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The (Re) Accreditation Process Made Me a Believer

A little more than two years ago, I made the move from serving as a stand-alone association executive to the AMC owner world. Like many who make this transition, I spent the first 18 months just trying to keep my head above water/drinking from the firehose/dodging flaming arrows…insert your favorite appropriate analogy here. But for most reading this, I imagine you understand the challenges inherent in the AMC pace and the juggling skills we must acquire.

I knew from the beginning that our firm was “accredited” – in fact, this was part of the preliminary fact-finding discussion I had with my then would-be business partner. Early on, she explained often to me and others that our firm had set processes to guide staff in multiple areas of our services as association managers, as well as various aspects of the business side of things. She explained the differences in accreditation as “process-based” versus an individual credential, like the CAE, as more “knowledge-based.” She talked about the great value of being an accredited firm – both internally and externally.

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Factors Affecting the Cost of a Virtual and Hybrid Conference

With a hybrid conference, you put on a face-to-face (F2F) event and then provide a virtual component. The first thing you need to do to create a virtual conference or the virtual component of a conference is to determine what kind of participant experience you want. The key to success is to find ways to get virtual participants engaged.  In general, the more virtual engagement you provide, the more the conference costs.  

There are a lot of engagement options for virtual and hybrid conferences: 

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Happy New Year from AMCI's 2021 Board Chair, Erin Fuller FASAE, CAE, MPA

“Happy New Year!” is a phrase that I am sure we have each uttered countless times throughout our lives, but have never truly felt the passion and relief behind those words like we have in the past few weeks.

Like many of you, I enter this new year hopeful, fatigued, concerned, and focused on continued growth, both for my own company and across our entire industry. I appreciate the confidence you have placed in me, during these challenging times, to serve as the chair of the AMC Institute in 2021.

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With Challenge Comes Innovation

As we near the end of the year, it’s always a good time to reflect on where we’ve been and more importantly where we are headed next. There’s no question, this has been one of the most challenging years for the meetings industry as a whole, and most of us individually as well. But with that, we’ve learned so many lessons. We’ve listened to our partners; we’ve learned how to innovate quickly, and most importantly we’ve come together as an industry to demonstrate incredible resiliency in a time of great uncertainty and change.

The sales team at MGM Resorts International has worked tirelessly to address our clients’ most immediate needs this year and also begin planning for events longer term. We’ve had to pivot quickly as guidelines rapidly evolve and change, and we are grateful to all of our partners who continue to entrust us with their business.

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Discover The Palm Beaches in 2021

“From the moment meeting attendees step foot in The Palm Beaches, they will be welcomed with an unprecedented level of safety and the open ‘palms’ of a passionate community ready to provide them with an energizing and unforgettable experience.

 Groups will have this peace of mind throughout their entire journey, thanks to destination-wide GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) STARTM Accreditation and other initiatives such as The Palm Beaches Pledge. The council’s industry-acclaimed “good housekeeping seal” requires facilities – including Palm Beach International Airport, the Palm Beach County Convention Center, its connected 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach hotel, and several other properties and cultural centers – to undergo a rigorous, 20- element training and implementation process while following consistent health and safety protocols.

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3 Quick Tips for Writing Emails That Get Read

You likely spend a lot of time drafting and sending emails. So naturally, you want people to read them, and not only that, but take some kind of action. 

If you’re struggling with email click-throughs at your association or chamber, take a look at these three copywriting MUSTS:

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33 Sponsorship Ideas for Virtual Events

Delivering value to sponsors can feel almost impossible these days. In-person events are on hiatus, and so are most of the traditional sponsorships. But don’t worry – there are tons of great ways to engage your sponsors, provide value, and keep those dollars rolling in! 

Here's our quick and dirty list of sponsorship ideas based on what we’ve seen work for us, our customers, and in the events industry at large. Scroll to the bottom for the full list! 

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Demonstrating the Path Forward for Meetings and Events

ALHI’s goal is to lead the way in 2021 by demonstrating how face-to-face meetings can happen safely without sacrificing engaging on-site experiences.

Since July, ALHI hosted nine face-to-face meetings across the United States that served as learning labs for upcoming events. The meetings offered unique opportunities to observe and participate in new room settings, food and beverage setups, and safety measures, along with virtual experiences.

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Gain a Competitive Advantage with a Workplace Wellbeing Program

In short, employees with strong wellbeing perform better at work, and companies with a thriving workforce have greater success and a solid competitive advantage. While that sounds simple, the reality is that life and business are complex, even more so over the past eight months. The good news is that savvy employers are stepping up, even with limited budgets, to make a positive impact on employee wellbeing through wellbeing programs. 

However, not all employers are embracing these programs. In a recent poll, when asked “Do you feel prepared to develop a competitive wellbeing program?” 63% said they were not prepared or unsure if they needed to be. Perhaps knowing the many advantages of developing and sustaining a thriving workplace culture will shift that response – and benefit those employers who make that shift.

So what are the specific advantages?
 They include, among others:

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A Destination’s COVID Response: Raleigh, N.C., is Readying for Groups

When tourism officials in Raleigh say, “Wish You Were Here,” they really mean it. This past August, Visit Raleigh launched a robust new recovery campaign centered around this very slogan. And the meetings industry is a key part of the destination’s strategy for success.

Raleigh’s DMO continues to increase its promotional efforts, thanks in part to a Sept. 2020 infusion of $1.25 million in CARES Act funds. The organization is using the additional assistance to promote the destination through a variety of channels, including marketing, advertising, and public relations, as well as strategic meetings, convention, and sporting event sales efforts.

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Creating a Unique Meeting Experience with a Puerto Rican Flair

“The island of Puerto Rico is rich in festivals, traditions, art, and music – but it doesn’t end there, the culinary scene is exploding, and mixology is a true art form.” From the soulful food to the hip-shaking music, the things that make Puerto Rico such a special place to visit are also what make it a captivating destination for meetings and events. Here are some ideas for giving your event a uniquely Puerto Rican vibe.

Farm-to-Table Caribbean Cuisine
Puerto Rican chefs have always taken a farm-to-table approach to their cooking. The island’s original settlers, the Taínos, used local yuca, corn, and peppers to craft dishes like mofongo and pastelón. Over the centuries, an influx of settlers from Spain, Africa, and Latin American countries have introduced new flavors and cooking techniques to the island’s palate, but the focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients remains the same.
Your guests can get a literal taste of the island’s history on a themed food tour. The Discover Puerto Rico team can help arrange experiences like a mofongo and mojito walking tour or even cooking lessons with a local chef. For an only-in-Puerto Rico experience, hop aboard the Chinchorreo Bus to visit some of the island’s best — and most authentic — food stands and kiosks. Your group will sample local dishes like fritters and fried plantains while enjoying an adventurous ride through the mountains and rainforests.

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Association Management: Online vs. In-person Engagement

As an association leader, you know the importance of engaging your members. How you communicate with members and the opportunities you offer directly impact their experience with your organization and the chance that they’ll renew.  With a dedicated and comprehensive engagement strategy, your member retention rate is much more likely to increase!

However, it’s likely that your more traditional engagements are on pause. As the global pandemic continues to keep many indoors and away from large in-person events, your regular member meetings and large conferences must either be postponed or pivoted to the online space.

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AMC Emerging Leaders

Dear AMCI Institute Members,

I'm Megan Woodburn, a board member for AMC Institute and the owner of Strategic Association Management in Austin, TX. In my board role, I have the honor of serving as the board liaison for the Emerging Leaders Task Force, a newly formed group for the Institute. 

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Tips for a Successful Virtual Strategic Planning Session

In the past few months, associations have found it challenging or impossible to hold in-person strategic planning sessions due to global pandemic restrictions. However, strategic planning sessions are essential for organizations to chart their paths forward, and alternative approaches must be explored.

Typically, strategic planning sessions require an in-person format and last 1 ½ - 2 days.  This year the pandemic has impacted travel, participation numbers, and engagement spacing.  A virtual format is the most viable alternative given existing constraints.

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AMCI Invites You to Participate in a National Association Environmental Scan

As part of the AMCI community, your firm is invited to participate in Looking Forward 2021; the nation's longest-running, most comprehensive environmental scanning research of the association business environment and the first association sector scan that takes the pandemic into account. 

AMCI is one of nearly 20 global, national, and state societies for association executives encouraging participation among
its membership in this research via the Association Laboratory Research Alliance. This is the 10th anniversary of this research, but the first time using the data analytics solution, Nucleus, for the dashboard of results. Nucleus is the official Data Analytics Solution for the Association Laboratory Research Alliance.

For the first time ever, individuals completing the survey will receive complimentary access to a dashboard of the survey results, giving you timely access to valuable data on the state of the association business sector and allowing you to compare your responses to those of your peers.

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Creating Successful Business Connections Virtually

Business as usual and 2020 are two terms that go together about as well as oil and water in today’s climate. To that end, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced associations to reassess the status quo of standard annual events. The Southern Association of Wholesale Distributors, a.k.a. “The Southern,” was no exception. Here’s how the 97-year old organization maintained the goal of its annual meeting and created virtual connections this past August.

A trade association representing convenience wholesale distributors in the southeast United States, The Southern’s membership spans from Texas to Virginia. Member companies have an annual gross revenue of $50 billion and represent nearly 50 percent of all convenience stores in the United States. In other words, The Southern means business. And its Annual Meeting is a place where business gets done.

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