Why make your annual meeting good when it can be great? An event management guide

Looking to make your annual event great? Follow Protech's event management guide.
Looking to make your annual event great? Follow Protech’s event management guide.

The differences between a good annual meeting and a great one are simple, but member-based organizations sometimes miss the mark on what’s truly bringing attendees back year-after-year.

Sure, the basics like an amazing venue, strong theme or jam-packed expo hall are going to win over plenty of attendees. But what’s going to make your association stand out? What will keep your members engaged? Let the following tips be your event management guide.

Showcase your staff

Of course you’re going to have some attendees who come for the drinks and to enjoy the camaraderie of the event. But most people aren’t going to shell out the dough if they won’t leave smarter than they came.

Instead of emphasizing a top-dollar keynote speaker, put your staff center stage.

The keynote speech is a cool feature, but those canned talking points and clichés will go in one ear and out the other for most guests. What members want from the event is fairly straightforward: to maximize their potential in your respective industry.

We found out first-hand at Protech Associates’ 2018 Fusion Conference (pictured). Our guests enjoyed all facets of the experience, but our staff breakout sessions generated the loudest response.

Allowing your staff to engage with members is often overlooked among the mess of guides to create a successful event. If you take anything from this event management guide, it’s this: put your staff in the spotlight.

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It’s all in the details

A professional or trade association with a massive annual event isn’t going to have the time to manually register every attendee. That time lost should have been spent on the fun stuff like brainstorming theme ideas and finding a unique venue. What an association needs is a system to allow the creative minds to turn their attention to the bigger picture.

Use software with an event management module meant to take the dull data entry out of event planning. Group pricing logic, event revenue recognition and individual registration transfer can all be configured through Alliance by Protech.

Another critical event management tip is making sure your attendees are maximizing their time. Don’t schedule the most hotly anticipated sessions for the same time, or you might have some frustrated members.

Of course there will be some sessions that overlap, and you’re likely to have a handful of attendees who want to sign up for both. To combat any possible confusion, utilize a Time Conflict Alert feature which notifies staff when attempting to register someone for conflicting events.

Keeping an eye on those small details can be what makes or breaks a member’s event experience.

Be visible

It’s easy to make your annual meeting about your members — because it is. But for your members, it’s about you.

Association members look to staff for insight on your respective industry since they don’t have the time to focus on advocacy efforts at the same level. So make sure your executive and membership directors are visible and accessible. The same goes for any other high-level staffers within the organization.

A major aspect of membership is access. Remember how important that is the next time your annual meeting rolls around. It might not feel like the humble approach, but it’s successful.

Keep it in perspective

Like it or not, your organization’s annual meeting is probably your biggest event of the year. And unfortunately for your membership director, it might only lead to a handful of new members at the end of the day.

Hopefully, word of mouth will indirectly generate new members, but always remember your event is about retaining and showcasing your current members. And after their travel costs, a mediocre experience is sure to make them reconsider the yearly trek. So keep it light, event management experts, but don’t be afraid to let your staff shine.

And be sure to learn more about how Protech Associates helps membership-based organizations, check out our client testimonials.