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February 22, 2024

Optimizing Your In-Person Event Strategy to Boost Association Member Engagement

Guest contributors to Higher Logic’s blog are valued members of our community who have offered to share their insights. The content contained and the opinions expressed in the blog post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Higher Logic or its employees. Higher Logic does not endorse or make any representations regarding the content and disclaims any liability related to the blog post.

Despite the technological advancements that have shaped how we communicate and connect, in-person events are still an important avenue for connecting with your association members. Conferences and events offer fertile ground for members to establish connections, gather knowledge, and expand their networks. As the Senior Director of Member Services for the Kentucky Primary Care Association (KPCA), I’ve learned that a well-orchestrated event strategy, coupled with robust communication and engagement tactics, can yield impactful, inspiring experiences that make members feel closer to their peers and closer to your association.

In my upcoming Super Forum 2024 session with Frank Humada from Association Briefings, we’ll be walking through how to craft an effective event and communication strategy, actively engage members at your events, and cultivate post-event member engagement.

Here, we’ll give you a sneak peek from the session for how you can use in-person events to build your connection with your association members.

Do Traditional Conferences and In-Person Gatherings Still Resonate with Members?

First, you might be asking yourself, do members still care about in-person events?

The 2023 Association Benchmarking Report – a yearly study by the Association Advisor that surveys over 200 associations – indicates that conferences and events are still a top-tier engagement channel for members.

Higher Logic’s 2023 Association Member Experience Report – which directly surveyed 350 current association members – echoes the significance of events for members, showing members ranking events in their top five most valued member benefits.

So, it’s clear that in-person events remain relevant and valuable, even in an increasingly online era. Association conferences and events give members an outlet to network, exchange ideas, interact with industry experts, and forge meaningful relationships with their peers and with your association.

So how can your association make the most of in-person events to engage members?

association member participating in an in-person event

Planning Event Content that’s Member-Centered

Having a robust event strategy is critical to orchestrating a successful event. And a key part of this strategy for associations is researching and identifying the educational content your association members need and want. This involves understanding topics, themes, or trends that resonate with your members.

By staying abreast of industry news and engaging with your audience through surveys, social media, and your online community, you can gain valuable insights into the type of content that will attract and engage your members.

At KPCA, for example, we conduct a comprehensive needs-assessment survey among our members to learn more about what they need. Using the insights gathered from surveys like these or from monitoring member conversations in your online community, you can then meticulously design conference sessions that align perfectly with the interests and needs of your members.

Crafting Engaging Event Communication

Effective communication is another key component to executing a successful event that deeply engages your members. As you prepare your marketing and communication plan for your association events, keep in mind the following strategies:

  • Utilize Multiple Communication Channels: Employing a variety of communication channels, such as emails, newsletters, social media, forums, and community platforms, is imperative for reaching a broad audience and maximizing event attendance. By diversifying your marketing initiatives, you enhance your chances of capturing your members’ attention, connecting with them via their preferred mediums, and driving registrations.
  • Personalize Event Communication: Customizing your messages to your members’ specific needs and interests helps them feel valued and understood. Use data and insights from previous events, from your database, from your community, etc. to segment your audience and send targeted communications that explain what your events offer for them specifically.
  • Encourage Two-Way Communication: Fostering attendee engagement before, during, and after your event helps create a sense of community around your event. Open dialogue by inviting members to share their feedback and suggestions. Encourage them to pose questions and engage with your organization and other participants – you can use your online community, for example, to create an event discussion or poll. Actively listen to member input and respond promptly, demonstrating that their opinions are both heard and valued.

Learn more about unleashing the power of in-person events during Drilon Gojani’s and Frank Humada’s session at Super Forum 2024.

Cultivating Member Engagement at Your Events

When you get members to register for and attend your events, then it’s time to make sure they have a good time. Crafting memorable experiences and creating multiple types of engagement opportunities will help you build a sense of community and strengthen relationships. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Mobile app: In the current digital age, a mobile app can significantly enhance the event experience for your attendees. A well-structured app allows you to provide real-time updates, interactive maps, and personalized schedules. It also enables attendees to connect with each other and share their experiences, fostering camaraderie.
  • On-site activities: To maintain member engagement throughout the event, offering a variety of onsite activities is vital. These can encompass informative workshops, interactive sessions, local activities, and networking opportunities. By offering diverse options, you cater to different interests and ensure inclusivity and value for everyone. At KPCA, for example, we’ve introduced on-site podcast interviews with our members, focusing on their specific areas of work. This not only allows us to get to know our members better but also sheds light on the exceptional work they are doing for their peers listening in.
  • Member recognition and leadership opportunities: Recognizing your members’ contributions and offering leadership opportunities at your events allows members to get involved and be celebrated for all the great work they do. Consider spotlighting exceptional members during your events, either through awards or featured speaking opportunities. Provide opportunities for members to assume leadership roles within event committees or volunteer to help welcome new attendees. Things like event volunteering opportunities and member awards help members feel more invested in the event and your organization.

Remember, a successful event isn’t just about logistics and content, but also about creating an environment where your members feel valued and connected. By adopting these strategies, you can create engaging events that make a lasting impact on your members.

Building Member Engagement After Your Events

After successfully organizing and executing an event, continuing to engage with your members to sustain their interest and ensure their ongoing participation with your association is critical. Think about building on the excitement and goodwill from events with the following strategies:

  • Solicit feedback: Give members an opportunity to be heard and gather input to refine future events by gathering feedback from your attendees. Distribute surveys or questionnaires to collect their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions. This not only helps you discern what worked well and what could be improved but also demonstrates to your members that you value their input.
  • Engage members in your online community: Use your event to inspire attendees to continue their valuable conversations and networking on your online community platform. Events happen at a singular point in time, while your community is available for members to get ideas, ask questions, and make connections year-round. Encourage event attendees to join and participate in your community platform. You can even create dedicated discussions or groups related to the event, where members can share their experiences and insights. Harness the community features, such as polls, surveys, and live chats, to keep the conversations dynamic and interactive.
  • Suggest other similar opportunities: Have a webinar coming up after the event? Or another networking opportunity? Let members know what’s next. While you have their attention, it’s a good time to tell them about what else you have to offer and how they can continue to be involved.

By proactively building on the member engagement your events generate, you can foster a continued sense of belonging, encourage ongoing participation, and fortify the relationships between your organization and your members. Sustain the momentum post-event, and witness your association flourish!

Member Events Drive Member Engagement

When it comes to events, it’s all about providing the content members need, creating personalized connections, sparking meaningful conversations, and building a vibrant member community. Whether you’re gearing up for the next big event or keeping that post-event excitement going, keep these strategies in your toolbox. Memorable moments at your association events can turn members into active, lifelong fans.

Join me and Frank Humada for our Super Forum 2024 session, “Maximizing Member Engagement: Unleashing the Power of In-Person Events,” on April 12 to learn even more tips for how to create lasting member engagement with your association events.


February 22, 2024

Super Forum invites you to ignite the spark that drives high quality engagement

Centered around community, Higher Logic’s 14th annual Super Forum invites you to ignite the spark that drives high quality engagement, a necessary disruptive transformation or that one little idea that leads to a big change.

Drilon Gojani

Drilon Gojani is a distinguished association executive with a robust history of successfully designing and implementing member education programs. He is deeply passionate about creating innovative and effective educational experiences that not only engage members but also ensure their long-term retention. Drilon is a skilled relationship builder, adept at cultivating strong connections with members, partners, and stakeholders, a key factor in driving organizational success.