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Guest Post: Association Events: 5 Challenges & Solutions for Organizers

‍Balancing member demands and tight budgets is no easy feat, especially for those responsible for planning association events. Here we'll explore five of the biggest challenges associations face when planning events.

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The following post is a guest contribution from Pathable, Inc. - a mobile event app company.

Balancing member demands and tight budgets is no easy feat, especially for those responsible for planning association events. Here we'll explore five of the biggest challenges associations face as the event experience continues to evolve in the new decade. Further, we'll match them with widely available solutions that can help planners address those challenges.

Transforming the event experience requires association meeting and event organizers to:- Take a digital-first approach- Prioritize sustainability- Embrace emerging technology- Share micro moments for macro impact- Engage, engage, engage. Let's explore each of these points in more detail.

Take a digital-first approach

The overall success of your association depends on collecting data. The same is true of the events you host for members. Data collection and analysis can help you create and deliver impactful events that your membership will want to attend year after year. For event planners, taking a digital-first approach to events doesn't stop and start entirely with data, however. It presents another challenge: connecting the contextual dots.

The Challenge: Use digital channels and tools to plan, promote, and personalize your event.

Solutions: Event management software, mobile event apps, registration and ticketing tools.

Prioritize sustainability

With association resources stretched to the limits already, "going green" can be as beneficial as a cost savings as it can be an initiative to promote sustainability. Making your event sustainable can also make attendees feel like they're contributing to a greater good: reducing or eliminating waste.

This manifests in a number of ways, not the least of which is reduction in paper and printable. The most successful events take the modern digital-first approach and consider sustainability a major priority in the event planning process.

The Challenge: Reduce costs and waste in all possible ways at your event.

Solutions: On-demand session content, email and social channels, mobile and web apps.

Embrace emerging technology

Tools to support event management, registration, engagement, surveys, and more make up a large portion of the tech market today. Price points are accessible to virtually any size organization with a dedicated event budget. As you think about taking a digital-first approach and prioritizing sustainability at your next association event, don't be afraid to embrace emerging technology.

The Challenge: Find and implement event tools at prices that make sense for your association.

Solutions: Branded "white label" event apps, hybrid events with a livestream component.

Share micro moments for macro impact

If you are committed to collecting and analyzing your most important event data, and you take a digital-first approach by prioritizing sustainability and embracing tech, what else is there? Capture candid and stage moments (photos, b-roll video, short interviews) throughout your event that speaks to the experience. This includes members engaged in conversation, digital signage, highlights videos, and more.

Then, share them across your event marketing channels. It's these "micro" moments that help you build out a strategy that will keep attendees coming back year after year.

The Challenge: Show, not just tell, attendees what to expect on-site at your event.

Solutions: Photo and video sharing platforms, webcasts and podcasts, blogs and vlogs.

Engage, engage, engage

With all of the logistical, programmatic, design, and tactical work that goes into building a great event experience, it's important to remember they "why" behind it all: people. Your association members are looking for an impactful experience that will help them improve and grow their businesses. They want to learn about how other successful leaders have transformed their associations so they can model their roadmaps accordingly without reinventing without the strategic wheel.

Your responsibility as the event planner is to create an experience that brings them the value they're looking for: community, networking, as well as information and knowledge sharing. If engagement and attendee retention rates are high, you're doing it right.

The Challenge: Create an event experience that builds community with a focus on engagement.

Solutions: Audience response tools like polls and surveys, gamification, private meeting schedule.

Think about what challenges are ahead for you and your association events. Chances are you're already wrestling with some or all of those mentioned above. You also know your audience and membership better than anyone. What do they say they're looking for? What do they need from you, and how can you deliver in time for your next event or association meeting?

Start simple and build from there. Taking a digital-first approach with mobile event apps and other event technology will help pave the way for the other challenges and solutions as they're so closely related. Confer with members, trusted advisers, and colleagues you admire to help you select the right solutions for your events.

It is clear technology can boost engagement at events. Make it happen for your own association, and quickly, without creating extra work for yourself. See how Pathable and Web Scribble customer, Meeting Planners International pulled off 50% increased attendee engagement with the simple -but-powerful addition of an event app in Pathable case study.

Author Bio
Equal parts voracious reader and passionate writer, Maggie Greene is an expert in communication principles and practices that help drive positive impact for business. As Marketing Manager for Pathable, Inc., she's customer-obsessed, results-oriented, and dedicated to celebrating the value of highly customizable event app and web solutions for event planners across industries around the globe.