Solutions for Staffing Associations

August 12, 2019

Solutions for Staffing Associations

After rounds of team interviews for the role of Director of Education and Events at the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), chief operating officer Colleen Eubanks thought they found their match. They did the background check, called references, and made an offer. The candidate accepted, and the start date was set.

But the Friday before starting the position, the new hire was swayed back by their current employer with a counter offer. We had to start the search process all over,” Eubanks says. While they ended up hiring a leader who is “more of a team player than the individual who did not join the team,”this sort of scenario is quite a common one.

“In terms of finding talent, I think it’s getting harder and harder to find great talent who are also going to be a cultural fit for the organization,” explains Debra BenAvram, CEO of AABB, the leading organization representing the transfusion medicine and cellular therapy communities. “There is so much competition for good talent that dollars don’t go as far. We’re doing more for less and juggling a lot of factors as making decisions on how to design staff and culture in a way that’s going to deliver results for our members.”

Attracting Talent

In a 2019 “Association Salaries & Staffing Trends Report” conducted by PNP Staffing Group, 28 percent of associations reported candidates declining their best offer, and 57 percent of those surveyed said that senior executive positions are the most difficult to fill. In 2019, the majority of competition will be in this area, since baby boomers are retiring and a large portion of staff replacements are for leadership positions.

According to Alexander Mohr, executive director for the European Flavour Association (EFFA), part of the challenge when it comes to hiring is explaining the role and tasks of trade industry associations, especially if you’re looking outside of major cities like Brussels, London, and Washington, DC. Associations are often not on the radar of young people, which is one of the struggles when it comes to positioning associations and attracting fresh talent. Companies should highlight the work that’s done on a national, European and maybe global level,” Mohr advises. “Demystify the industry and give the people who work with us, the volunteers, more visibility. I think it’s the association’s task and work to give those volunteers the chance to shine a bit.”

EFFA, for example, created a community called the Flavour Ambassadors, a multimedia project that highlights the roles and expertise of professionals from different departments through video interviews. “Engage beyond just giving once a year report about activities, and maybe try and make volunteers ambassadors for the industry with visibility on social media,” Mohr adds.

Creating a Culture

The “Googleplex” campus in California may boast swimming pools, volleyball courts, and 18 cafeterias, but associations can create just as strong of a company culture without all the bells and whistles. One of my colleagues always says culture happens by design or default, and one of those two things is going to happen, so you better design it well,” says BenAvram. “When I think about designing culture, any time we have a person coming into or leaving a team, it’s a brand-new team—and we can never forget that.”

To combat budget constraints and rotating work forces, BenAvram advises developing a strong and ongoing set of values to create a team that trusts each other, challenges each other, and holds one another accountable to accomplish great things. “Culture development and team development is something you’re never done doing,” she says.“When I’m working on building culture, I’m working on building a connection for everyone in the organization to the results for the whole organization, not just the results for their own team.”

Eubanks agrees, which is why the hiring process at IASP is a team effort. When a spot opens up, this is a chance to look across the organization and make a group decision on how—and where—to allocate those resources, instead of rushing to replace a member. “When we set up the interview process, I purposely include team members from other departments and from different levels so the candidates can get a good perspective of how our organization works and what the culture is like,” Eubanks explains.“We also discuss the open position in our leadership team meetings and agree on expectations for the new person to work with different teams, so everyone understands the role and expectations before we even make the hire.”

Having a methodology in place helps to build trust with teams and show that leaders are looking to make the best decision for the organization as a whole, ensuring that every member’s voice is heard. This way, one team doesn’t feel prioritized over another—a challenge in today’s resource- (and budget-) strained world.Culture change takes three to five years—these are building blocks that take a long time to get people to see and trust and value as you’re building a team and figuring out how to use your dollar,” BenAvram says.“At the end of the day, people want a connection to the altruistic mission we’re all here for. Where I work, if we do a good job, patients who need a blood transfusion will have safe blood. That’s a pretty powerful tool for me to use to motivate employees.”

This article was written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset.  The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.

August 9, 2019

Cairns Convention Centre to be Expanded

Cairns Convention Centre, which has been operated by AEG Ogden since it opened in 1996 and twice named winner of the World’s Best Congress Centre (2004 and 2014), will undergo a refurbishment of existing facilities and an expansion providing an additional 3,000 square metres of meeting, banquet  and exhibition space.

Work is due to commence in June 2020 with the refurbishment to be completed by November 2020 and expansion by 2021/22.

AEG Ogden Chairman and CEO, Harvey Lister said: “One of the main selling points going forward will be the ability of the Cairns Convention Centre to host multiple events at the same time, ie a basketball game and a convention or two conventions. Conference growth in Tropical North Queensland has been constrained as a result of the Centre not being able to accommodate two large conventions simultaneously during the convention season. This expansion by Government will largely resolve those constraints, opening up additional economic benefits and tourism opportunities for Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.”

August 8, 2019

ICCA and eSpeakers to Collaborate for Quality Content

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) has partnered with eSpeakers, the leading online source of professional speakers for international meeting organisers.

Made up of a number of initiatives, this new collaboration will allow the International Congress and Convention Association to diversify and expand the educational possibilities available to its members at annual ICCA events and online via the ICCA Knowledge Hub, through access to eSpeakers’ expansive and diverse community of thought leaders and subject matter experts.

eSpeakers will use their community’s resources to sponsor speakers for ICCA’s annual Congress and Association Meetings Programme, and in addition create a branded directory of ICCA faculty members within their Marketplace, the largest directory of professional speakers available on the web. Designed to help meetings professionals to hire speakers directly through the eSpeakers platform, event planners can use the directory to find and filter appropriate speakers by subject, budget, language and other customisable criteria.

August 7, 2019

Glasgow’s First Citizen Supports Disability World Congress

Glasgow’s First Citizen sat for a portrait by Project Ability artists at the St Enoch Centre on Saturday 3 August. The aim was to promote community engagement on the topic Future4All, the theme of the World Congress of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD). Project Ability learning disabled artists spent the day at the St Enoch shopping centre on Saturday, which welcomed over 40,000 visitors on the day.

The four day conference, a leading research and practice meeting concerned with intellectual and developmental disabilities attended by some 1,500 delegates from across the globe, began at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) yesterday.

Linda Mitchell, Partnership and Development Manager, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and member of the IASSIDD Local Organising Committee, commented: “The IASSID public engagement event with Project Ability was a fantastic way to promote our positive Future4all message from the Glasgow World Congress, helping to improve the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, their families and those who support them.”

The portrait event also formed part of Glasgow Convention Bureau’s People Make Glasgow Healthier initiative, launched earlier this year. It supports medical associations holding conferences in the city by taking their key conference messages into communities.

August 6, 2019

ACC Liverpool Invests in New Equipment

The ACC Liverpool Group production team has invested in new equipment to provide cost effective solutions for clients.

Around £130,000 has been invested at the Liverpool event campus which consists of ACC Liverpool, Exhibition Centre Liverpool and M&S Bank Arena Liverpool. New items for conferences and exhibitions include a laser projector – which can be used for twitter walls and directional signage – for the convention centre.

The venue has also invested in its own pipe and drape to allow greater flexibility within the event campus and to meet the increasing demand for hosting a wide range of concurrent events. In addition, a Barco E2 switcher has been installed in hall one which will allow greater vision opportunities and capabilities.  The new equipment was used during the IATEFL conference for a large format 12m 3:1 ratio edge blend screen.

August 6, 2019

Association Membership Benchmarks

Reflecting from Manila, Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta, CEO & Founder of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE), highlights the different models of memberships that can help associations grow.

I recently got a copy of the 2019 membership marketing benchmarking report published by Marketing General Inc., a Virginia, US-based marketing agency working exclusively with membership organizations. The MGI has been publishing this report annually since 2009 and associations find it most useful in recruitment, engagement, renewal and reinstatement of members.

Despite the rapid changes in technology, culture, and demographics, MGI’s data show that many associations have been able to sustain a level of membership growth and continue to serve their markets. A closer look at the trend data also reveals that the percentage of associations reporting membership growth over the last decade is on a gradual decline: from 52 percent in 2012 to 45 percent today. The remainder, in fact a majority of associations, is seeing either no growth or declines in membership.

Associations reporting important positive outcomes in membership also report higher innovation and level-of-value scores. In short, these more innovative and value-producing associations are successfully adapting to the challenges faced in today’s competitive marketplace. Eighty-one percent of associations reported membership growth in the past five years, and 82 percent have an increase in overall new members, indicating that their organization has a culture that supports innovation.

In terms of membership models, one that has seen remarkable growth is the move toward “combination membership” which offers members opportunity to join as either an individual (like a typical professional society) or as an organization (like a typical trade association or chamber). In 2011 only 13 percent of respondents identified their association as having a combination membership structure. This year 26 percent of respondents identified their association as a combination association.

Another developing innovation for associations is the use of paid digital media for marketing efforts. For membership recruitment, this channel has increased as a preferred channel from 12 percent to 15 percent over the past year. Of the 15 percent of associations that consider paid digital marketing tools as a highly effective method for recruiting new members, Facebook paid advertising remains the most effective digital marketing tool (68 percent).

The other technology-driven development that associations report this year is a significant decrease in data problems that have been reported in the past.  The top data complaint is lack of marketing results tracking and analysis, which dropped from 51 percent in 2018 to 39 percent in 2019. Similarly, the issue of inadequate membership dashboards and reporting tools went from 48 percent in 2018 to 35 percent in 2019.

Similar to 2018, the most effective offers for obtaining new members include conference/convention discounts (54 percent), a membership dues discount for the first year (52 percent), and additional months free, e.g., 15 months for the price of 12 (46 percent).

Almost identical to 2018, the top reasons executives believe members join is to network with others in the field (57 percent), learn best practices in their profession (26 percent) and access specialized and/or current information (25 percent).

Association executives reiterate the same top challenges as in 2018: difficulty in communicating value or benefits (38 percent, up from 35 percent), insufficient staff (35 percent; same as in 2018) and difficulty in proving ROI (25 percent, up from 22 percent).

Bobby Peralta is presently the Secretary General of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), the focal point of 106 development banks and other financial institutions engaged in sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. With over 25 years of experience as an association executive, Bobby Peralta is a long-standing member of and contributor to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the CEO & Founder of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE).




August 5, 2019

Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia Introduces New Networking Platform

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has announced the launch of a new series of special interest forums that will provide greater opportunity for year round engagement for members to exchange valuable industry knowledge and address the key issues facing the industry.

EEAA Chief Executive, Joyce DiMascio, said the forum series will deliver a new targeted communication platform for EEAA member categories to share industry knowledge across a range of issues of common professional interest. “The special interest forums will provide an opportunity for members of our community to drill down into the key issues and opportunities facing the industry. In addition to our major annual headline events, the forums will serve as an additional platform for greater year round engagement within the member community,” she commented.

August 2, 2019

First Indian Association Education Workshop in Hyderabad

Initiated by Dubai-based consultancy DTORR, this workshop, which will take place either on September 6 or September 7, 2019, is a first of its kind and designed for India-based associations. Themed “A Collaborative approach for a better tomorrow”, it aims to create and provide a common platform for associations to explore, innovate and share practices and knowledge. To do so, they will engage with a variety of key speakers in order to create positive economic impact in the region of Hyderabad and beyond.

More information available here.

August 1, 2019

Second Call for Proposals for EAS 2020

The next edition of the European Association Summit (EAS), launched by the Association Bureau in Brussles, will take place the week of 9-13 March 2020. For this new edition a new application form has been created dividing the Call into two stages. The first Call took place from May 20th to 20th June 2019, where 4 themes were proposed, focusing  on new strategies for associations, engaging youth in your field, women empowerment and new sustainable ways of doing business (in your field of expertise).

The second Call from July 22nd to 22nd September 2019, based on the proposals of the first one, happening now, targets the thematic and therefore the choices of candidates.

Association representatives are invited to submit case studies via the call for proposals. Use the opportunity to relate your experience on a range of issues relevant for associations. Share your experience in fields such as finance, events, advocacy, marketing, business models, governance or other relevant topic you wish to see featured. EAS aims to show the diversity of associations active at the international level.

The Call for Proposals is now open here.


July 31, 2019

Association Management Companies Get Immersed in Malaysia


The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) recently hosted five board members from AMC (Association Management Companies) Institute for an immersive educational visit. The programme was designed to provide an all-encompassing experience of the Centre, Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia’s attractive and affordable business events proposition and to provide a direct educational exchange that could benefit local association development.

Part of the programme included an Association Education & Knowledge Exchange session to help build the capacity and capability of local associations. Over 200 Malaysian stakeholders, including many local associations, attended the event where the five AMC Institute board members shared their invaluable knowledge and experience on six association-related topics. These included disruptions facing associations, engaging membership and volunteers to thrive and survive, and challenges facing associations in today’s environment, to name a few.