Louis Nel outlines what one gets from chapter meetings
One of the main tasks for associations is to arrange regular get togethers, networking and feedback sessions. Well of course networking is a topic on its own and more on that in further articles, but let’s focus on the get togethers, referred to inter alia as chapter or regional meetings – for the ease of reference I will refer to all of these as chapter meetings.
Chapter meetings are arranged at different intervals. Clearly, if you belong to a number of associations, it is not going to be easy to get to all of them all of the time. This exactly when you hear the ongoing complaint: “I don’t have the time”.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
I will endeavour to prove in this article that attending chapter meetings regularly is an extremely cost-effective way of not only increasing sales, but also branding. It is also indeed measureable – it is what I call ROT, i.e. return on (the) time you say you do not have!
What are the issues that challenge organisations when it comes to arranging chapter meetings? It is usually a combination of the following:
- ATTENDANCE Invitations are sent out well in advance, sometimes issued three or four times. Some even print a list of events and venues for the year, so the questions of notice can hardly be an excuse.
- SPONSORS This goes for the venue, refreshments, prizes and speakers. Sadly it does not appear that venues appreciate the value of exposing their facilities to their target market. We all know that selling is about ‘look and feel’ and what better way than to expose your potential clients to your array of facilities and services? So once you’ve decided to offer your venue for a chapter meeting, go the ‘whole hog’.
- PRIZES I believe the way to sell the idea of sponsoring prizes is the same as the ROT argument. At the chapter meeting the sponsor will have its name mentioned (verbally, electronically and in print – this must be offered/insisted upon) a number of times to its target audience. Tourism product and services providers need to be reminded of this, including giving space on the print material used at the chapter meeting to expose their product or service and possibly a short speaking opportunity to explain the aforesaid at the actual prize giving
- VENUE LOCATION Some association members don’t want to travel to chapter meetings. Come on guys, it is for the common good. Why don’t you arrange your day around the chapter meeting and plan to see clients and/or service providers in the area earlier in the day?
- SPEAKERS It is important to realise that attendees are coming to have fun, so they don’t want to listen to a speaker who has verbal diarrhea and waffles on regardless of the audience’s body language. Choose topical issues, ‘fun’ speakers or speakers who can turn a dreary subject into some exciting – even have two or three brief speakers on an array of (relevant) topics.
- NO SHOWS The bane of every organiser’s life. The one thing that is a fact of life is that people simply do not appreciate what you can get and it is simply too easy to cancel at the last minute if you have not made a pecuniary commitment, so advance payment, however nominal, seems the way to go.