Association Event Network December 2019 - Page 17

Column GET WITH THE PRO- GRAM- ME Written by Damian Hutt Does your association need a dedicated conference producer? The Association of Association Executives’ Damian Hutt makes the case for quality WE HAVE HEARD it said by many advisors researching the challenges faced by the that for a successful business, you need to target delegate audience, and deducing ask your customers what they want. how the conference programme could solve What has surprised me over the years these problems. They also consider what is that there are still many association format is most appropriate and who would conference organisers that aren’t doing be best to speak. This work is achieved by this with their members. While medical interviews, whether on the phone, face to and scientific membership organisations face or at other events. necessarily derive their programmes from The interviewees for research calls are the latest research, most other sectors would carefully selected to reflect the segments find greater success and delegate growth of an association’s membership. This could from asking their customers what they need be sorted by specialisation within the field, in a structured way. or by the stage they are at in their career. A Event managers are often tasked with not only the operational management - and research grid of how many interviewees to call is often used. possibly even marketing and sales – but also It is essential to determine that the the programme production, with insufficient solutions provided in the conference time and limited experience in this field. programme are worth members spending Supporting a committee or event manager time out of the office for. If the solutions are with member surveys is a good idea, but to problems that do not affect much of their this still needs careful consideration and work, however persistent, then attending balance, with responses investigated more a conference to learn how to solve them deeply. isn’t going to provide a high enough ROI to I am surprised during our own association congresses, when we address the warrant registering, paying and attending. When considering the cost of the development of conference programmes, programme producer, focus on the ROI for at the number of association executives your conference. The increased delegate in the audience that look rather blank at attendance from the improved programme, the concept of a ‘programme producer’. and the gross profit from these delegates, What is this person? Why are they needed? What do they do? The next question is inevitably: how much do they cost? How can we possibly afford that? Programme producers specialise in should outweigh the cost and add enhanced value for all delegates. 17