In the association sector, events are a key element of organisational success, providing opportunities for networking, education, and community building. However, there are many competitors for the time and attention of association members, and it is important for associations to ensure their events are evolving to remain competitive and to keep their members engaged. Following are the key trends associations need to be capitalising on to keep members engaged.
The rise of virtual events
One of the biggest trends in association events is the rise of virtual events, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the way we do business. Virtual events provide associations with an alternative to in-person events and allow them to reach a wider audience by eliminating the need for attendees to travel. Associations can capitalise on this trend by investing in the technology and infrastructure needed to host successful virtual events, and by developing engaging and interactive content for these events. By offering a mix of virtual and in-person events, associations can provide value to members who are unable to travel and remain competitive in a crowded market.
The importance of sustainability
Another trend in association events is an increased focus on sustainability. As the impacts of climate change become more evident, associations are under pressure to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to take steps to reduce their environmental impact. Associations can capitalise on this trend by incorporating sustainability into their event planning, such as by using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and offsetting carbon emissions. By demonstrating their commitment to sustainability, associations can differentiate themselves from competitors and provide value to environmentally-conscious members.
The role of technology
In the digital age, technology is playing an increasingly significant role in association events. This includes the use of virtual events, as mentioned above, but also the use of technology to enhance the in-person event experience. Associations can capitalise on this trend by investing in technology such as mobile apps, social media, and other digital platforms that can help to engage attendees and provide a seamless event experience. By leveraging technology, associations can create more interactive and engaging events that stand out in a crowded market and provide value to tech-savvy members.
The need for flexibility and agility
In a rapidly changing world, it is important for associations to be flexible and agile in their event planning. This may involve being prepared to adapt to changes in the market, technology, or regulatory environment, and being willing to pivot to alternative formats such as virtual events if necessary. Associations can capitalise on this trend by being proactive in their planning and by being prepared to adapt to change as needed. By being flexible and agile, associations can remain competitive and provide value to members who are looking for events that are responsive to their needs.
The importance of personalisation and customisation
Another trend in association events is the importance of personalisation and customisation. Attendees increasingly expect events to be tailored to their individual needs and preferences, and associations that are able to deliver on this expectation are likely to be more successful. Associations can capitalise on this trend by offering a range of options and activities that allow attendees to customise their event experience, and by collecting and using data to personalise the event experience for individual attendees. By providing a personalised and customised experience, associations can differentiate themselves from competitors and provide value to members who are looking for events that are tailored to their needs.
The role of experiential marketing
Experiential marketing, which involves creating immersive experiences for attendees, is another trend in association events. This can include incorporating interactive elements, such as workshops or hands-on activities, or creating a memorable atmosphere or setting for the event. Associations can capitalise on this trend by developing experiential elements that align with their brand and mission, and that provide value to attendees. By creating immersive and engaging experiences, associations can stand out in a crowded market and provide value to members who are looking for events that are more than just a series of presentations.
The need for data and analytics
Data and analytics are playing an increasingly key role in association events. By collecting and analysing data on attendees and event performance, associations can make informed decisions and better understand the needs and preferences of their audience. Associations can capitalise on this trend by investing in tools and technologies that allow them to collect and analyse data, and by using this data to inform their event planning and decision-making. By using data and analytics, associations can create more targeted and relevant events that provide value to members and help to keep them engaged.
In a crowded and competitive market, it is important for associations to ensure their events are evolving to remain relevant and valuable to their members. By capitalising on the trends above, associations can create engaging events that will ensure the ongoing success and relevance of your association.
Want to learn more? I will be attending and presenting at the Association Event Innovators Retreat in Melbourne (15-17 February). If delivering exceptional events is important to you, then please register. This inspiring event is run by Answers for Associations and I would love to see you there.