According to the Fall 2010 Association TRENDS Finance Survey, meetings account for over 30% of revenue for associations — the greatest non-dues revenue source by far, followed by educational programs (19.6%). And while 7% of surveyed CFOs reported an expected decline in meeting attendance in 2011, 25.9% projected an expected increase in revenue from meetings.
Imagine what that projection would be if members could attend conferences, meetings and training sessions remotely! Consider offering “hybrid meetings,” where webcasts and live streams bring members whose schedules or budgets may not enable them to attend in person to the live event. Meetings revenue would dramatically increase.
This can be done efficiently and cost-effectively. You may choose to hire an outside audio-visual company or you may choose instead to invest in a quality video camera and tripod and host the content on your own site. You may even be able to get a company to sponsor the event and offer the services free of charge.
Do not fret; this will not replace in-person attendance. There will always be “butts in seats,” because members value the opportunity to assemble, network and generally catch up. Social Media heavyweight Chris Brogan said “Webcasting your event is just another way to get your audience to wish they were there,” at the MTO Summit recently.
Here are some tips to implementing hybrid meetings:
- Always have an audio feed into the camera; do not rely on the strength of microphones alone. This is relatively easy to achieve.
- Offer keynote addresses and common sessions online live as they are occurring. Select the most interesting breakout sessions, but do not try to stream all of the sessions presented at the conference.
- Engage remote attendees by incorporating social media into the discussion.
- During breaks, offer special online-only features, maybe a Q&A session where the presenters answer Tweeted questions, or a break out interview with a prominent guest or presenter. You can also engage a few members who are attending in person in discussion about the topic and broadcast the discussion for online viewers.
- Integrate slides and other visuals into the video feed, again, do not rely on images presented at the front of the event to suffice.
- Make sure you have a mobile streaming program, or that your webcast or stream is accessible on mobile platforms.
- Password protect broadcasts to avoid free remote access to the event.
ASAE has compiled this list of associations who have hosted commendable hybrid meetings recently.