Take More Risks in 2021

We’ve been helping a number of associations with scenario planning for their 2021 major conferences. It’s been a breath of fresh air for these conversations to evolve from “shifting to virtual” to considering new and innovative ways to take more risks and deliver high member-value.

Two truths that can be helpful for planning 2021 include:

1.  Being the industry’s big conference is not as much of a competitive advantage in a virtual or digital setting. Delivering high value and relevance for the near-term wins the day.

2.  Expense associated with taking more risks is dramatically lower with virtual. There are very few variable costs, so double-down on trying new things.

One of our favorite finds this year is what Joy Davis refers to as “apology meetings.” Her article below entitled “Normal is Over(rated) – For Now” has inspired many to think more strategically about their 2021 conference.

On behalf of the VCC team, we wish you all a wonderful holiday and better New Year!
December 2020
Podcast/Transcript: Tagoras’s Jeff Cobb interviews Tracey Steiner, senior VP, NRECA, above, about the learning business in disruptive times.

The big question to ponder for 2021 and beyond is: Will those — especially global and non-members — who’ve attended virtual events in 2020 return? Will they become members and be additive through lifetime loyalty and spend? Here are four ways to design your 2021 virtual conference to attract attendees who will help improve your association’s long-term sustainability.
Joy Davis, CAE, knows this has been a rough year for associations. But she thinks you need to keep the emotional toll out of your marketing and your board room. Davis, managing director of member products at AAPS, saw the worst of it in meetings communications.

It’s getting harder and harder to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Prognosticators and industry cheerleaders keep telling us that things will get back to normal…but who can say what normal is? Or if we even want to go back to the way things used to be. We’re being challenged to produce breakthrough events that deliver both member value and much-needed revenue to our organizations. My friends, clients and industry suppliers privately share that the pressure on them is enormous!

I have banned the phrase “return to normal,” because right now is normal. Change is normal. Perhaps our current rate of acceleration is not – but change itself is normal. Today it’s normal that I don’t eat in restaurants or fly, and at some point it will be normal that I do those things again.We association people are talking like “normal” is a perfect, balanced state to which we will inevitably return. It’s what we know and it’s comfortingly familiar, so we have begun to fetishize it. We fantasize about crowded exhibit halls, packed hotels, and chummy, in-person board meetings.