Associations conducting more events in age of Internet

A FIERCE fight to deliver new knowledge and trade data to members faster than they can access similar content online has resulted in associations holding more conferences and events to stay connected with their audience.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, business development manager with Kenes MP Asia, an association management company specialising in medical associations, said some of his clients are conducting more annual member events in order to remain relevant.

“Much of this change has been driven by American and European associations but we are seeing Asian-based associations starting to react. Clients here are realising that it is no longer enough to hold their global congress once every four years, and are now considering hosting annual gatherings,” shared Nguyen, adding that the demand for more frequent meetings is also driven by members’ desire to network more often with peers.

While The Australian Veterinary Association has not increased the number of live member events held every year, it has conducted more frequent webinars over the recent years in order to reach out to more members.

“Not every member is able to travel for a conference and be away from work and family for days. The Internet has made the production of webinars easier and more affordable than before, allowing us to take content to people who missed our live conferences,” said CEO Graham Catt.

Nguyen shared the same observation, saying the wide Internet reach today benefits association chapters that are too small in terms of manpower and based in destinations lacking sufficient event facilities and hotels, allowing them to have a go at conducting global meetings too. Such meetings are often online masterclasses.

However, Catt was quick to add that webinars will not replace live congresses, as members will continue to expect networking opportunities and live interaction with global colleagues.

Meanwhile, advancing communications technology and wider Internet reach have also enabled associations to create an online system to share pertinent information and knowledge with members, at a cheaper price and shorter time than before, said Nguyen and Catt.

Although members can now easily search and obtain information online and bypass associations as a source of content, Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of APICS, a US-based professional association for supply chain management, said associations can battle that by leveraging on their not-for-profit status to demonstrate integrity and inform members that their data is reliable and impartial.

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