This article highlights the most important steps in planning an association event and suggests tools that can help you pull it off without a hitch.
It’s a well-known fact: events are a major source of revenues for member-driven associations. Careful planning is a must to maximize the return on your investment. Hence the importance of having the right tools to handle all the many organizational considerations. That is what inspired us at Vendere Group to develop a comprehensive event management and online ticketing module as part of our Membri 365 CRM solution. Associations can use the Events feature before, during and after each event for a smoother, more enjoyable and, ultimately, more lucrative experience.
The first step in planning a successful association event is carrying out an in-depth analysis of the purpose and the goals you hope to attain. A formal plan will help you do this with clarity and confidence.
1. Determine your event strategy
Why are you holding this event?
Identify a specific objective that everything else will be built around. This should include a set of quantifiable goals, such as the number of people you hope to attract.
Who is the target audience of this event?
Based on the overall event objective, define who your event is for, so you can then put together a targeted guest list.
What kind of event will you be organizing?
It is important to select an event that will help you fulfill your objective and appeal to your audience. The type of event is also critical in determining the appropriate venue.
How much of a budget will you have to work with?
Your budget will vary depending on the event venue, logistics and how you plan to get the word out. It’s best to start by determining how much you want to make with your event and then work backwards from there.
When is the best time to host an event of this nature?
What time of year lends itself to the kind of preparations you’ll need to do? When are your guests most likely to turn out? When are the desired facilities available?
How will you be promoting your event?
A promotion and advertising plan will help you garner the visibility that is key to making your event a hit. There are lots of ways to connect with prospective attendees: phone calls, personalized emails, newsletters, social media, local newspapers, word of mouth, partners and more. But the most effective plans map out a specific course of action based on the target audience, the allotted budget and the level of visibility that has been promised to any event sponsors you may have.
Now that you have a strategy in place, you can set out the guidelines that will help you move on to the next level of your planning.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at how to create an event in Membri 365.
The tools available in Membri 365 can help your association plan, organize and hold events you’ll be proud of.
2. Create an event in Membri 365
The process involved in setting up your event in our CRM software for associations is flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of activities and address the multiple needs of your attendees. So go ahead: get creative!
Describe the event.
Set up activities and types of tickets.
Use the customization features to ask your guests about specific preferences (menu choices, dietary restrictions, etc.).
Determine your ticket sales settings.
3. Seek out sponsors
Our sponsorship and opportunities management module gives you a set of tools you can use to track your efforts to secure event sponsors, annual sponsors and other types of partnerships. With this feature, you can perform searches, set reminders and keep all your notes in one central place. And when you do succeed in converting prospects to partners, the system will automatically prepare an invoice.
4. Sell tickets
Once your event is set up, the next step is to determine when your tickets will be put on sale.
Membri 365 has an API that lets you link data from the member management system to the information in your association’s website, so you can keep member lists and profiles, online memberships, event lists and registrations synced.
The payment interface allows members to pay online as part of the registration process. They will receive an invoice that has been automatically generated by the system. Multiple payment methods are supported for a hassle-free experience.
The interface can also sync with your accounting system and, depending on which system you use, create and transfer accounts, generate invoices and manage payments. Several leading accounting solutions are compatible with Membri 365.
There’s also the option of using an app to allow your members to register for events on their mobile device. The result: a seamless experience for your attendees, increased visibility for your event and a better bottom line for your association.
Last but not least, your ticket purchasers will receive an email with an ICS attachment so the event details will automatically be inserted into their calendar.
5. Promote your event
Besides some of the more conventional methods indicated earlier in this article, our Membri 365 CRM solution for associations gives you the option of integrating with MailChimp. This enables you to sync your Membri 365 contacts with MailChimp and upload the emails sent to your mailing lists. Your contacts and the MailChimp master list are updated hourly to ensure they stay identical. You can use this feature to send out a newsletter with event announcements and reminders.
In addition, our mobile app gives you access to the member directory, event information and member profiles, which means you can send notifications and updates directly to members who have registered for the event and keep them in the loop.
6. Manage your event registrations
Membri 365 dashboards bring you an at-a-glance view of the real-time status of your events and registrations.
The registrations section of Membri 365 lets you track participants, who will automatically be uploaded to the system when they purchase a ticket online. You also have the option of manually entering any guests who choose to register through other channels.
Invoices and online payments are generated automatically by the system for all registrations completed through the online ticketing module.
7. Stay organized on event day
Membri 365 can be a huge help during the event itself.
Use it to view an up-to-date list of participants at any time, as well as their answers to the questions you asked at registration. The data can also be exported straight to Excel. You can call up this information directly in Membri 365 or a spreadsheet to check or track attendance. This will subsequently be used to populate the CRM system, along with any notes you add, for future referral and analysis.
8. Run a post mortem analysis
This is an important, albeit often overlooked, stage of the process. It is crucial in ensuring the continuous improvement of your events. Your post mortem will help you determine what went right and what went wrong, so you can plan your next activity accordingly. You can also identify to what extent your initial goal has been achieved and whether you have hit your targets. Membri 365 lets you zero in on the important facts and figures to help you fine-tune your analysis and generate key statistics, including:
Number of event registrations
Total registration fees
Total sponsorship payments
What’s more, all of your information and messages will be archived in your contact and account files. You can refer to these when comes time to plan your next event in order to build on your success and avoid any pitfalls encountered along the way.
One thing is for sure: Membri 365 will make your life easier and save you money!
Automation means productivity — Invoices are generated and sent automatically, drastically reducing your administrative workload.
Automation means efficiency — Invoicing and payment information is automatically transferred from one system to the other, so there’s no need to manually enter these details into a separate accounting system.
Automation means consistency — Your webmaster will have access to a host of tools to facilitate integration to your website in record time.
Events are an important part of every association’s revenue streams. You can trust Membri 365 to help optimize these processes, reduce operating costs and gain a clearer understanding of the corresponding outcomes. An investment in a solution that has been specifically developed for associations is your pledge to creating events that are as well run and financially sound as they are memorable for you and your guests.
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Who is Vendere Group?
A software engineering firm with a team of IT and management experts dedicated to the success of associations. Our mission is to help associations, chambers of commerce and non-profits grow and thrive with the Membri 365 membership management solution.