Recently, the #REDSQUAD participated in PheedLoop’s Changemakers Summit. The Summit brought together event and association professionals for an opportunity to learn about new PheedLoop products and updates, attend sessions, win prizes, and more!
Redstone CEO, Carly Silberstein, had the pleasure of sitting on the panel “Growing Associations with Events and Technology in an Era of Rapid Change.” Carly was joined by Danielle Lamothe from CSAE and Jeff Horne from Wicket.io where they discussed the power of digital and hybrid events and how to think about member engagement in an era where physical engagement is unpredictable.
Watch the video snippets below and keep reading to hear some of Carly’s tidbits from this session!
How do you see virtual events helping associations survive, and even thrive, during this pandemic?
Carly: One of the silver linings of COVID that we have seen at Redstone is the accelerated adoption of tech tools, platforms, and more. We’ve always been a “digital-first” agency, so that’s a silver lining for us in that now our clients (regardless of their industry) have no choice but to adopt and I think they’re pleasantly surprised for the most part.
Digital events and content have allowed associations to do several things they weren’t doing or weren’t able to do before: increase their reach, increase their inclusivity, and save costs.
Before the pandemic organizations primarily focused on only providing content and benefits exclusively to their membership (or allowing non-members to participate at a higher fee). However, when the pandemic hit, most organizations’ mindsets shifted to “we are all in this together.” They began offering up their content or membership benefits for free – or at significantly discounted rates. They were casting their net wider and more people were consuming their content. No one knows the results of the past year (yet), but I think we will end up seeing either an increase in membership or more quality membership.
Before the pandemic, for every conference an organization would participate in and travel to they’d often have to make a choice. Which employees will get the opportunity to go? However, with digital events, it’s either free or reduced pricing. So why not send 15-20 people as opposed to 2-3? There are much fewer barriers to entry now.
In some cases, organizations have also realized cost savings. There are certainly costs involved with hiring a production company or a professional event management company like Redstone. However, I think you are also saving on many other areas and are either balancing the budget or are coming in under budget.
What advice would you give, or questions would you ask, to an association that might be considering hybrid events?
Carly: I would say the first step is asking associations about their history over the past year or even before the pandemic. Were they doing any kind of webinar series or podcasts? What kind of digital content were they creating? Determining how they were operating after the pandemic struck is also helpful. How were they delivering value to their members? Are they just now in 2021 hosting their first digital conference? Understanding more about where they’re coming from is a great way to guide them to where they should be going.
Depending on what their goals and objectives are, hybrid events may work. However, there are a few questions that they should answer before taking the plunge. Why are they doing the event? Is there a purpose? How are they going to measure success? What level of engagement do they want?
It’s understanding where they are coming from, where they want to go, and how they are measuring success. Ultimately, it’s important to determine what their Board would say was a good use of money whether they host a hybrid, online, or in-person event.
You can also check out the full recording of this session: Growing Associations with Events and Technology in an Era of Rapid Change.