Meeting Newz January / February 2021

Firstly, we are so fortunate in New Zealand regarding what we can do conferencing and educational content wise. The people on the webinar had a massive desire for an in-person event but literally could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Most seemed to be in a real holding pattern, having held venues and hotels while not knowing whether they could run the event and at the same time be able to get the numbers to attend. Many associations were worried that companies of the delegates would not allow them to attend an in-person event now. In addition, association staff were clear that they had a right as part of their employment agreement not to attend an in-person event, even though they were organising it. Secondly, in New Zealand, suppliers (hotels, venues and auxiliary organisations) and clients (associations), work extremely well together to get a resolution if conditions change contractually. Over there it seems that it is all about what’s written down. The suppliers are very hard and fast, although it seems this is changing as customers are concerned for the future sustainability of their association, and cannot live with the tight contractual clauses that venues and hotels were putting on them. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and I’d like to think they go down the My first educational experience for 2021 was a webinar that was conducted by an American lawyer and an association CEO, as a case study, on the legal aspects taking place regarding holding meetings and events for 2021 in the United States. More than 500 association executives attended the webinar, and even though contractually not relevant in New Zealand a few things stood out. New Zealand route that has definitely been working where we see each other as coexisting partners. Thirdly, and most importantly, there was a strong feeling that virtual and even hybrid events were not engaging enough in the association community, especially in the virtual exhibition space. Yes, delegates still benefited from the education part of the conference. However, they found that virtual exhibitions didn’t attract the numbers of delegates after the respective sessions. There was a roundtable on how to virtually attract innovative sponsorship ideas that assist exhibitors more and at the same time attract the virtual delegate to the exhibitors/sponsors. For associations conferences are an important part of their functionality both for membership engagement, education and (especially) revenue. The profits they make from their annual conference affect the products and services they deliver to members throughout the year. They found that running a hybrid event was costly and didn’t achieve the same budgetary standards. There was still the mentality that the delegate registration fee would be cheaper, therefore one of the only ways to attract their budgetary revenue was to ensure that their traditional exhibitors were part of the hybrid event. For 2021 this will create an interesting V IRTUAL EVENT RELAYS GREAT DES IRE TO BE BACK IN-PERSON By Brett Jeffery , general manager NZ, of the Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE). conundrum, as last year the exhibitors bought into the virtual exhibition and didn’t get the expected bang for their buck. So associations are looking at creative ways to ensure that their delegates are put in front of their exhibitors. This is going to be a challenge for associations that cannot meet in person. In New Zealand, as we know, we are experiencing a different world. We can meet in person, and we need to appreciate and recognise that. Even though it’s not business as usual, some associations experienced exceptional membership growth, especially with industry bodies. Others have struggled but by and large most have maintained their healthy membership base. We are planning on meeting face-to-face, but in a respectful way. There will be delegates in 2021 that do not wish to attend our conferences because of the virus. And some supplying companies will not be able to exhibit due to budgetary restraints. However we will meet, we will work together as one to ensure that our members are educated, are staying in hotels, are using venues and their respective services in 2021. Here is to a rebuilding year and I hope it’s a good one for everybody. [ AUSAE COLUMN Truly yours Brett Jeffery [30] meeting newz [january february] 2021