Insights and tips for association & nonprofit professionals


Association Event Planning: Tools to Elevate Your Conference

Associations often host conferences to engage their members and provide unique, enriching experiences. For example, a business conference might consist of employees from various related companies discussing industry innovations and advancement opportunities in the field.

However, conferences are notoriously tough to plan.

Since conference success is contingent upon how many guests attended, encouraging members to register is key. Ultimately, you want the conference to be a rewarding experience and potentially result in overall growth for the association.

Currently, your association is most likely using an online registration form and other similar tools to help you manage the conference. Consider these alternatives that can not only strengthen your internal processes but also help your conference stand out:

  • An intuitive event microsite
  • Optimized online registration process
  • A mobile app tool
  • Post-conference opportunities

Depending on your specific needs, it might be beneficial to invest in a more comprehensive association management software (AMS) with event management capabilities. With that, let’s explore some of the top solutions for elevating your conference management!

An intuitive event microsite

One of your association’s most valuable assets is your website. Typically, your association’s website will be the first place a person looks when they want to learn more about your mission. It’s the best location to display general association details and other relevant information, such as an event calendar or learning opportunities. Therefore, it’s worth exploring a capable membership website builder.

To take this approach even further, certain AMS tools can create a microsite for your conference event. Establishing a microsite is an easier way to promote your conference separately from your association. With a microsite, your association’s conference can:

  • Maintain its own unique brand.
  • Help you track registration leads.

According to Fonteva, use your AMS and event tools to ensure that your microsite contains all of the most sought-out details and is easily navigable. You don’t want anyone to get lost while looking around for the registration form.

Optimized registration process

Associations aim to prevent shopping cart abandonment as much as possible by leveraging association management tools. Usually, people turn away from registration because the form simply took too long or didn’t offer enough information to meet their needs.

With your AMS and event tools, consider ways to make the process as seamless as possible for your busy members. Here are a few ideas:

  • Built-in form builder. Customize your conference registration form based on your specific needs. Don’t ask your registrants for unnecessary information and waste their time.
  • Tiered packages. Give registrants the freedom to choose from varying levels of registration options. You can offer both a basic conference ticket and a VIP option with more benefits!
  • Member perks. Even though your conference may be open to all, it’s always nice to give your members a little perk. Consider offering early registration or even a discount.
  • Connections to secure payment processors. Make sure your AMS has an integrated secure payment processor for registrants to use without worry.

Build your registration form with your guests’ needs in mind, and make sure that it effectively reflects what your conference has to offer. Provide enough information and necessary waivers (if your event requires waivers, read this). Using your management tools, curate the best possible registration experience so that registrants can’t say no.

A mobile app tool

Some AMS and event management software can provide your staff and attendees with a branded event app. This is a great way to attract attendees while also keeping them engaged throughout the conference.

With 96% of Americans owning a mobile device, this is an intuitive tool that can help increase engagement with your guests. Staff and guests can easily access pertinent conference details and the event schedule from their mobile device.

Conferences are known to be incredibly busy and stimulating, with multiple vendors and activities and presentations occurring at once. A mobile conference app helps attendees gain a better understanding of the event schedule so they can attend the activities that interest them most.

Some mobile event apps offer registrants even more tools and services to help them navigate the event. Use your app to:

  • Display guest-customized schedule.
  • Offer customer service.
  • Provide networking opportunities with an online community board.

From learning opportunities to live surveys, invest in an AMS and event tool that will truly bring this power to your hands.

Post-conference opportunities

As your conference begins to wrap up, it’s tempting to immediately take a break. But don’t relax just yet— one of the best times to engage your guests is right when the event ends. Using your mobile conference app or an email marketing tool, send out surveys and questionnaires to the guests. Gain an understanding of your conference’s success while it is fresh in guests’ minds.

For additional post-conference insights, it’s a good idea to integrate your AMS and event tools with your constituent relationship management (CRM) system.

Your CRM system is where you store your member profiles. One popular CRM system is Salesforce, because of its vast integration and native partners. If your association depends on Salesforce, Double the Donation compiled a helpful list of top Salesforce event partners.

Integration processes can take a while, and not every software solution will work effectively. Your best bet might be to invest in a comprehensive AMS that is native to your association’s CRM system. This way, your association and event management tools are already built for your CRM and can work seamlessly from the start.

Conferences are a great way to engage your constituents and spread the word about your association’s work. Within the concentrated conference circuit, make sure your event stands out by spending less time on your internal processes and more time planning. Invest in a comprehensive AMS solution with event management capabilities, and watch attendance grow.

Jake Fabbri

Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

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