It's not a Meeting, a Congress or Just an Event... It's the Legacy of Your Organisation!

"Our organisational meeting and events are where we not only talk about the legacy our association has left to our stakeholders, it’s also where those legacies are created"

2nd Nov, 2023

Our contributor Mark Levin stresses why our meetings and events are significant assets to our organisations, sectors, professions and communities through a sense of legacy.

So, here we are in the late stages of 2023, and everyone is concerned about the “future” of non-profit meetings and events: “Covid changed everything.” “People have gotten used to not travelling.” “The cost of everything is driving attendees away, or to virtual attendance.”

If you are waiting for me to deny any of these, keep waiting. Yes, to a large degree, these concerns about meeting and events are true. I’ve been in the association management/meeting planning profession for a very long time, and I believe these next few years will be more challenging to the meetings industry than anything it has faced since 9/11. Side note: it’s scary how many readers of this article probably weren’t even in the meetings business when that happened.

We certainly have had to adjust to a lot of changes in the past few years, changes that will be with us for a very long time, if not permanently. However, that doesn’t mean we have to start lowering expectations, cutting budgets, and making sure every moment of our events is available remotely! We just have to get back to the basics. We have to remember what our meetings and events bring to our organisation and, more importantly, to the industries, professions, and communities we represent.

DEI Isn’t a Passing Fad – It’s a Change of Organisational Culture

Step back for a moment and consider:

1) Your meetings and events are among your organisation’s most valuable member benefits. Yes, your members and attendees have to pay additional fees to attend, but look at what many of these meetings provide...

  • a one stop opportunity for educational programming which can lead to acquiring accreditation and certification credits, and accompanying professional development skills;
  • an ability (as vendors and exhibitors) to literally have the organisation bring potential customers and clients to them as well as providing opportunities for customer/client retention;
  • both organised and informal opportunities to meet fellow industry or professional members (yes, networking), which can lead to career opportunities, new business partnerships and relationships, new personal friendships, the creation of new support groups.

Remember the basics – we’re not promoting meetings – we’re promoting the value of our meetings.

Your Value Proposition is the Key to Building Sponsor Relationships

2) Your meetings and events are, by far, your organisation’s best opportunities to enhance visibility, credibility and influence in your industry, profession, or community.

  • our events are where the greatest number of not only our members but also our other stakeholders (public officials, industry partners, media, other associations/organisations, etc.) will be gathered together. It’s THE place to make those stakeholders glad that that they are working with and supporting us;
  • our meetings are a chance to remind our attendees why our organisation exists. We can reflect on our organisation’s mission, recount what we’ve done over the years to help members, remind members of our value to their businesses or professional careers, and reinforce our impact on society in general via our public service, conservation, and/or humanitarian activities.

3) Meetings and events are a showcase for our organisation on the global stage.

  • We don’t want to reduce our association’s essence down to a social media presence that drives everything to all-encompassing website;
  • Let me take that back − I don’t want that to be the essence of the association I manage. I’m afraid that’s exactly what is happening to too many organisations;
  • More than anything else, association management is a people profession. Our meetings are where the leaders of our organisations, industry, profession, and community gather. It’s where we learn more about them, as well as them learning more about us. It’s where our members hear and see and meet the people they know and respect in our industry or profession, and that’s a “value” of our meeting that cannot be measured but will surely be remembered − especially at renewal time.

Our organisational meeting and events are where we not only talk about the legacy our association has left to our stakeholders, it’s also where those legacies are created.

Mark Levin, CAE, CSP has more than 20 years of experience as an association executive and is also an internationally-known speaker and consultant to the nonprofit and association community. He currently serves as Executive Vice President of the Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute, an international trade association, and as President of B.A.I., Inc., his speaking and consulting firm.

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