Hello, IAVM members!
I’m writing to you as your new president and CEO, and if I haven’t met you yet, I look forward to doing so. I’m also pleased to share with you IAVM’s blog! As a regular reader, you’ll hear about issues that affect the venue management industry, as well as receive insights about your association and where it’s headed. Of course, I’d love to get your comments and thoughts on the subjects at hand, or feel free to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, I recently closed out my first 45 days here at IAVM, and it’s been an eventful and rewarding time. I have spent many productive hours in conversations with volunteer leaders, staff and IAVM partners, and each conversation has given me a new perspective. That perspective, aligned with my association management experience, has led me to believe we need to focus on 7 major areas in the year ahead.
First, it’s important to remind ourselves how fast the world is changing around us. For example, it is estimated that a week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century. It is also estimated that more information will be generated in this year than in the previous 5,000 years combined. And if Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. And half of the population is under the age of 30 and don’t even comprehend a world without the internet. When you stop and process that, it’s a brain stretcher.
“It is estimated that more information will be generated in this year than in the previous 5,000 years combined.”
So what does all that mean in terms of our business? Mainly, I think it changes our historical role of being creators of content. Now, with information flowing freely all around us, we are uniquely positioned to instead create context out of the noise, and to be a trusted provider of information. In such a world where information is generally free and overwhelming, this kind of context and trustworthiness is what creates value.
For IAVM in particular, I think the next year should be focused on building our value to our members as that trusted resource, with a focus on profits and efficiencies to stabilize the organization.
I have heard your desire to achieve some new, big, hairy, audacious goals. And I’m with you. But to do that, we have to increase our profits so we can reinvest and grow. At the end of the day, this is about delivering member value, but we can’t do that without money in the bank.
And we’re making progress. Plans are underway to deliver a more valuable and effective annual meeting. Watch this space for more details on that from our 2nd Vice Chair and AMPC Chairman, John Bolton, CFE. Also, we are evaluating our member dues structure to encourage more members, by getting more staff from each venue involved. And we are working on a comprehensive media guide to include all our allied offerings (exhibits, sponsorships, ads, digital, etc.) which will be a great sales tool that also makes life easier for our allied members.
We have some great programs in place that would be the envy of any association. So we need to focus primarily on improving what we have and making it more relevant and impactful, before we move on to creating too many new programs or products.
In particular, the website is in need of a major overhaul. It needs to be redesigned to clearly state the value we deliver to members, and our internal processes need to be better aligned to increase speed to market. Plans are underway to make this possible.
For a small staff, we engage in quite a few activities that don’t drive member value or profits. We also have far too many manual processes and outdated systems. Every minute we can stop wasting is a minute we can spend on creating more value.
One huge inefficiency stands out. The printed membership directory requires 470 man hours (2 months) to complete, and it is outdated before it is even mailed. We can provide more value by offering an improved digital directory that is searchable, current and always at your fingertips through mobile applications. A printed directory is also very unfriendly to the environment.
“We need to position IAVM as THE resource for any venue related issues.”
The association will be far more effective, and members and staff will be more engaged and satisfied, if we can be clear on how each contributes to the success of the organization.
Staff need to be able to take a more active leadership role, and be more accountable for certain functions, such as managing expenses, ensuring accuracy of printed pieces, quality of the marketing efforts, minutes, timelines, etc. To accomplish this, staff must build trust with our volunteers by executing and communicating with excellence.
We also should be more strategic in our use of valuable yet limited volunteer time by engaging you primarily in creating a mission/vision, developing content, and leveraging your contacts and resources to secure sponsorships and marketing support. We also need a better onboarding and training process so you know what’s expected of you from the outset. If we were able to shrink the number of committees to a manageable level, we could afford to implement a leadership conference where we had one day of training, and one day of face-to-face committee meetings. This kind of engagement could help us do things we can’t imagine yet.
This is essentially a subset of “improve programs” but it is critical enough to be its own section. With great digital content we can better prove the value of joining IAVM, because learning can be at your own pace and right from your desk.
We have struggled with digital learning due to start up costs, but we believe we have a solution. Stay tuned for more news in this regard.
“Wow” customer service
I want us to keep our members by having them feel delighted every time they interact with us. More to come on that, as well.
We need to position IAVM as THE resource for any venue related issues. As part of that, we need a comprehensive re-branding strategy. Volunteer leaders and staff are working on a plan with multiple levels of investment requirements, which will have to be balanced with other budget requirements when the board of directors meets in December.
We are also currently developing a more robust PR process. We have contracted with a new PR service to enable us to track our results better, and we are focusing on building relationships with the media.
So that’s it, for now. As I said, I’d love to hear from you. Did I miss the mark? Leave anything out? Hit some nails on their heads?
One last comment, I’d like to thank the organizing committees for the Arena Management Conference and the International Convention Center Conference. Both experienced growth from prior years and met or exceeded budget goals. More importantly, the content satisfaction scores for AMC and ICCC were higher than they’ve ever been! Congratulations to the AMC Committee and chairs John Bolton (2010-11) and Todd Hunt (2011-12) and the ICCC Committee and chairs Dave Anderson (2010-10) and Jan Addison (2011-12).
Vicki Hawarden, CMP
IAVM President and CEO