Associations Now: News, insight and analysis for association leaders
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64% The percentage of respondents who said their meetings were somewhat healthy, according to the Incentive Research Foundation’s 2019 Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study. Just 24 percent said their meetings were “mostly” healthy, and 5 percent said they were “very” healthy.
There’s a growing interest in plant-based meals, clean eating, and gluten-free foods, according to an array of recent studies. How should your event adapt?
Looking to spruce up the menu at your upcoming events? Keep an eye on what’s out there in the world of food—it might just surface a few surprises you can share with your audience.
According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC), there’s a growing trend toward healthy food variants. The council’s 2019 Food and Health Survey finds an increased interest in plant-based diets, which half of respondents said they wanted to learn more about. (The term “plant-based” creates a lot of confusion, by the way: Slightly less than a third of respondents say it’s a vegan diet; around 30 percent say that limited amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy are allowed.)
IFIC also found that “clean eating” was picking up steam, with 38 percent of respondents saying they had tried eating a specific diet at some point in the past year, with “clean” being the most popular one. Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, IFIC Foundation’s vice president for research and partnerships, characterized the approach as allowing for personal choice.
“While some diets are trendier or healthier than others, it’s clear a significant segment of consumers are adopting at least some kind of diet,” she said in a news release. “Consumers are continuing to seek out diets that align with their personal values while joining communities of other Americans adopting similar habits.”
Making Room for Alternative Options
For event planners, this of course creates some challenges in trying to account for all the preferences you might find among consumers. In a 2017 report [registration], the meetings industry group IACC found that the most common requests among event attendees were for gluten-free and vegetarian options. All meeting planners and culinary experts who responded to the survey said they received more gluten-free requests than they did two years prior, while 83 percent said they got more requests for vegan options.
“If you do a stellar job and go above and beyond to make them feel welcomed, they will surely remember and share this with others,” she notes. “The same goes for any negative experience that a guest has, and most of the time they share the details of bad experiences much more freely.”
New reporting shows what the platform’s top users have in common—and how brands can leverage that data. Also: experiential marketing statistics to know.
Most people use Pinterest for fun, but it’s a prime channel for influencer marketing—which can generate 11 times the ROI of traditional advertising.
Last fall, Pinterest announced efforts to share API data with eight influencer marketing platforms in order to track and value influencer collaboration efforts more easily, the SEMrush blog notes. That has helped drill down what top accounts have in common.
The scoop? Many top Pinterest users established themselves early on, when the app used to recommend accounts to follow when new users signed up. Other top personal accounts have leveraged followings into lucrative corporate partnerships or full-time businesses. Most critical: Influencers succeed not on the volume of posts but on the quality and targeting of shared pins.
This is why reaching a Pinterest influencer to promote your own brand requires strategy. SEMrush notes that high-volume pinners might be easier to reach because of a need for more content. Selective pinners, however, may require paid outreach or a detailed pitch.
Regardless of their cadence, each targeted influencer should align with your objective: reaching new audiences or engaging existing customers. And because the top Pinterest accounts are focused on home decor, style, and food and drink, crafting related content around those ideas is more likely to resonate with a wider audience.
Why Marketers Love Live Events
40 Essential #Experiential Marketing Statistics for 2019 and Beyond
Experiential marketing is key to building brand awareness and interactive engagement. The Q2 blog has gathered 40 essential statistics about the field that encompass everything from one-day pop-up bars to comprehensive tradeshows.
The practice is booming: One study found 63 percent of marketers plan on increasing the number of events they organize. Another report cited notes 40 percent of respondents will spend more on hosting events in the year ahead.
Other findings show that more than three quarters of marketers rely on experiential marketing, and that more than half of companies dedicate at least 20 percent of their marketing budget to events.
Other Links of Note
Sure, page views are great. But the quality of visitors matters more. Eric Lanke, CEO of the National Fluid Power Association, explains why associations should care about who’s coming to their websites.
Summer days might be lazy, but you can still maximize member engagement and marketing efforts. The Muster blog details four ways to do it.
Feeling stressed? Tell Alexa. CNN reports that Amazon is allegedly working on a voice-activated wrist wearable that can sense a user’s emotions.
“One major challenge is what we call the childcare–conference conundrum: Parent–researchers face a conundrum as they struggle to attend key conferences and further their careers while finding care for the children,” the researchers wrote. “Conferences face a conundrum as they assess how to better accommodate mothers and families.”
The good news is that many associations are already stepping up to the plate to better welcome their parent attendees. Take the American Chemical Society: Camp ACS is available to all attendees free of charge for children ages 2 to 16. The five-day program is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, covering almost all hours of the conference, allowing attendees to make the most of their time.
Even associations that don’t have a budget to offer a program like Camp ACS are finding a way to better accommodate parents. The American Physical Society, through its Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, offers childcare grants of up to $400 to attendees who are bringing small children to a meeting or who incur extra expenses in leaving their children at home. Similar opportunities are available to parents attending the Joint Mathematics Meetings and for those heading to the American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting.
At the very least, associations would be smart to offer onsite lactation rooms for nursing moms or family rooms where parents can go spend time with their kids for a few minutes during the day.
One of the 10 principles of Burning Man is “radical inclusion.” The annual event that celebrates art and community defines it as this: “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”
Associations need to celebrate and prioritize radical inclusion within their conference communities. The strategy for accomplishing this will encompass a number of things. Among them: Making sure your conference is welcoming and accessible to all attendees, that your speakers are diverse and representative of your community and its members, and that it’s a safe environment that makes attendees feel comfortable and invites them to fully engage.
To broaden the speaker pool, associations would be smart to consider how to change up their selection process to encourage new audiences to submit proposals or to get input from a broader group. For inspiration, consider the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, which incorporated crowdsourcing into its speaker and session-planning strategy.
In my year-end blog post, I urged associations to reconsider the typical 12-hour-long conference day. That’s why I love hearing and reading about groups that have started to consider their attendees’ well-being and build downtime into their meetings.
The International Glaucoma Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators have each created free resources aimed at keeping Muslim patients healthy as they participate in the holy month of fasting.
With the goal of helping Muslims with chronic health conditions participate in Ramadan—the Islamic month of fasting from sunrise until sunset—two associations have created materials to help the faithful fast safely.
“We started this campaign when we became aware that some Muslims stopped using their drops during the fasting period because they thought it broke the fast,” said Karen Osborn, CEO of the International Glaucoma Association, which is based in the United Kingdom.
This is the second year IGA has spearheaded the initiative to assure Muslims that using their glaucoma drops does not violate Ramadan’s fasting rules, which require no eating or drinking during the day.
“Glaucoma is usually asymptomatic and sight loss is very gradual, so if people stop using their drops they don’t notice any difference,” Osborn said. “Forty percent of vision can be lost before it is noticed, so people might stop using their drops during Ramadan and then, because they didn’t notice any deterioration in their vision, wouldn’t restart their drops.”
IGA partnered with the Muslim Council of Britain for its program and has created an informational poster and flyer it sends out free to those in the UK. The materials are also available to download for free, with the poster available in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, Somali, and Urdu.
Ramadan is based on a lunar calendar, so its timing moves each year. Because there is more daylight closer to the summer solstice, and daylight can vary based on location, the total time required to fast can last as long as 20 hours.
Not eating for long stretches can cause problems for diabetics, including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), or dehydration. That’s one reason the American Association of Diabetes Educators this year posted two fasting information sheets for Ramadan. One sheet is aimed at diabetes educators, while the other is geared toward patients.
“They have been such a popular addition to our website,” said Joanne Rinker, AADE’s director of practice and content development. “We haven’t really had it on that long, but people are paying attention.”
The idea for the information sheets came from a member, who felt AADE needed more resources in this area. “There are some educators who only come into contact with one or two [Muslim patients] in five years,” Rinker said. “But she worked very closely with this religious population. She said, ‘I’d really love to help by creating this tip sheet to share with other diabetes educators.’ We were thrilled.”
After the member created the tips sheets, AADE reviewed and added them to its website, along with links to in-depth professional articles. “There is more information about fasting in the literature,” Rinker said. “They could go read a journal article about putting this into practice.”
Rinker expects diabetes educators to use the information sheets as a refresher on what to tell patients who plan to fast. They can then pass along the patient-focused sheets as a reminder of what was explained during the office visit.
“Our members can share this as a reinforcement tool,” Rinker said. “After [patients] get home, they may not remember everything the diabetes educator said.”
A study of Facebook employee resignations reveals common strategies to prevent turnover. Also: the appeal of smaller host cities.
It’s natural to assume that people leave their jobs because of a bad manager or a poorly run company. The same might be said for a lost client or association partnership.
A new review of Facebook employees who have left the tech giant, however, demonstrates that day-to-day job duties could play a more prominent role in inspiring a departure.
This has big implications for hiring managers of all stripes, Inc. magazine notes. That’s why it’s important not only to define a job when a new employee or partnership begins but also to shift parameters—when suitable—to nurture talents and interests that could be mutually beneficial.
Here are the takeaways from Facebook:
Be strategic. Design job roles and daily functions with an employee’s passions in mind. Making work inherently meaningful helps foster long-term success and company loyalty.
Be engaged. Sit down with new hires upon arrival to learn their values, prior successes, and interests. Such “entry interviews” can help managers create engaging job paths.
Be proactive. Use those findings to identify opportunities that leverage an employee’s strengths and interests. Catalog that data as a shared resource for company managers.
Be flexible. Sustain a work-life balance that allows employees to tend to personal affairs. That, Facebook notes, can actually produce harder-working, more loyal staffers.
When it comes to host cities, small can be mighty. That’s the takeaway from a recent meeting involving 20 international associations that found a unanimous desire to seek out second-tier, non-capital cities for their conferences and events.
Such thinking, Event Industry News notes, is driven by the perception that an event will be considered more important to a lesser-populated host city, deliver a legacy that will be appreciated by the destination, and—most crucial—receive more personal and higher-quality service. Smaller markets are also seen as less corrupt and more ethical, some delegates said.
“[W]e have an incredible offering, world-leading research centers and technology, and the ability to deliver top-level events for associations of all sizes,” said Miikka Valo, a spokesman for the tourism board of Espoo, Finland, as well as a Scandinavian cities alliance that sponsored the recent meeting.
The National Restaurant Association’s ServSuccess program—its launch timed to coincide with the group’s 100th anniversary celebration—aims to improve paths for restaurant worker advancement and improve employee retention.
The National Restaurant Association is celebrating a major anniversary this year—and with that in mind, the group is looking ahead to the industry’s future.
The association this week announced ServSuccess, a program to help workers find opportunities to build fulfilling careers in the field. The three-level certification program will include online training as well as assessment programs.
We are ServSuccess. Come and Get It. - YouTube
The program is designed to serve both restaurant workers and their employers. “Restaurant employees will be able to use their years of experience to jump-start their professional advancement by validating their skills and knowledge,” National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney said in a news release. “For restaurant operators, it provides the training and workforce solutions to grow business and service to their communities.”
There’s an important reason why the restaurant industry might be interested in doing more to improve retention and advance workers’ careers: Replacing employees is expensive. The association notes recent research from the firm TDn2K that placed restaurant turnover costs at $2,000 per worker—and $15,000 for managers.
ServSuccess offers a way for employers to boost retention, the association’s executive vice president of training and certification, Sherman L. Brown, added.
“Better training is better for business, so ServSuccess provides companies with a turn-key, customizable mix of products that build the people who build their business,” Brown said in the release. “And for those professionals ready to take their hustle to the next level, ServSuccess is here to serve them.”
The American Overseas Memorial Day Association, created to honor American troops whose final resting place was overseas, has been active for nearly a century. One chapter is working to keep its ongoing mission alive through a new website.
Memorial Day is an American holiday to reflect on those lost in battle, but as a long-active association proves, its reach goes far beyond U.S. borders.
AOMDA works to honor the final resting places of Americans buried overseas, placing flags either at U.S. military cemeteries in Europe or in isolated graves throughout Europe and North Africa.
The group’s mission, as stated in its certificate of incorporation, reads: “To decorate on the National Memorial Day and such other public and patriotic holidays as may be appropriate, the graves, tombs, and monuments of all American Servicemen and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Auxiliary Services buried overseas.”
That Belgian chapter is particularly active. In comments to Fox News in 2014, AOMDA Belgium Public Relations Representative Laura Hoffman noted that the group works “to make Memorial Day come alive 365 days a year.”
“Honoring their sacrifice is our mission, and the heartfelt sentiment that one feels in the presence of so many local residents who attend each year without fail,” Hoffman told the network.
The chapter’s website, relaunched in 2017, tells the story of sacrifices made by the more than 14,000 Americans buried in Belgium. The site focuses on teaching younger generations, along with helping older ones reflect. The chapter created a detailed database that works as a virtual grave site, allowing loved ones to share their remembrances.
“This digital database, dedicated to telling and preserving the stories of these fallen American servicemen, is by far the most wide-reaching move we have initiated yet,” AOMDA Belgium President Jerome Sheridan said in a news release.
The association may have a strong focus on the past, but the Belgian chapter’s moves highlight its desire to make room for the modern day.
“With every passing year, the number of veterans who attend our ceremonies is declining and those with a direct memory of the wars and the lives of these soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen continues to fade,” Sheridan added. “We have an obligation to do what we can to keep the memory of these servicemen alive and to let their stories speak for the true price and value of freedom. Thanks to new technology, this effort is now a global transatlantic effort.”
Concurrent sessions: 200 plus
NAFSA’s 2019 Annual Conference & Expo begins next week in Washington, DC. Around 10,000 are expected to attend.
Thousands of international educators, including deans, provosts, and student advisors, are headed to DC to learn from experts, discover innovations and discuss trends, and get to know colleagues from around the world.
Organization: NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Conference: 2019 Annual Conference & Expo
Venue: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
City: Washington, DC
Have a Meeting on the Horizon? If you’d like us to consider your meeting for an upcoming Conference Circuit, contact Samantha Whitehorne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAFSA 2019 begins Tuesday afternoon with an opening plenary featuring Dr. Madeleine Albright and General Colin Powell. The former secretaries of state will discuss the current global landscape with NAFSA CEO Esther Brimmer. Also on the agenda:
In the spotlight. The Spotlight Presenters series will feature special guest speakers discussing important trends and issues within and beyond the field of international education. For example, Aimee Ansari, executive director of Translators Without Borders, will explore how international educators and students can use their language skills and knowledge of communications technology to help when disaster strikes.
Get a boost. The onsite career center will offer a number of onsite activities like resume review and career-development roundtables. Career Boosters—knowledgeable international education professionals—will also be on hand for one-on-one meetings with attendees to answer questions about everything from getting started in the industry to navigating a career change.
Embassy row. Attendees will have a special opportunity to learn firsthand about culture and international education in different countries when several embassies open their doors to them on Thursday evening.
Benefits can account for as much as 30 percent of an employee’s overall compensation package. Discover which benefits are crucial and peek at what other associations are doing via data from ASAE’s Association Compensation & Benefits Study.
Dive into the Data The Association Compensation and Benefits Study, 2018-2019 Edition, is available through ASAE’s AssociaMetrics platform or in print through ASAE’s bookstore. Both the online and print version provide
• Salary information on 75 different positions in associations.
• Data organized by association type, size, geographic location, and other filters.
• Data on various benefits provided by different types of associations across the country.
When association professionals are looking for jobs, they often focus on salary, which is important, but benefits are important, too, according to Cindy Heine, president of Associated Benefits Consulting, a firm that provides benefits solutions for associations.
Heine noted that employees “should pay a heck of a lot of attention to benefits,” because they generally make up 20 to 30 percent of an employee’s overall compensation package. In a tight job market, benefits are an area associations will use to add extra oomph to their offers.
“Much like any other employer, associations are competing for talent, so their ability to be distinctive in some ways makes a difference in attracting and maintaining that talent,” Heine said.
With associations offering extras to attract talent, it’s important to know which benefits matter most and which can fall by the wayside. That’s where expert advice paired with data can help. Here, we’ll look at Heine’s tips and data from ASAE’s 2018-2019 Association Compensation & Benefits Study, which analyzed salary and benefits information from hundreds of associations.
While some employees may be interested in benefits like teleworking, gym memberships, or tuition assistance, Heine said three benefits tend to come out on top for most people: healthcare, leave, and the retirement package. “Pay attention to the details of it,” Heine said. “The details matter. I would look at what it is that’s being given, what is being offered, and what kind of employer contributions are there.”
Specifically, with healthcare, employees should look at whether dependents are covered and at what rate. Most employers pay a smaller share of healthcare costs for dependents. Large associations are likely to have cheaper healthcare plans because of their size. “An association employer is not different from any other employer, in that the access to employee benefits is easier and less expensive per person, the larger you are,” Heine said.
Leave is important, too, and Heine said smaller associations will sometimes sweeten the benefits pot by offering extras like paternity leave or more generous family leave. When it comes to retirement plans, which are heavily regulated by federal law and have some basic defined parameters, employees should look at employer contributions and vesting schedules.
Now that we’ve got the basics, let’s take a look at some numbers to see how your association compares.
Healthcare benefits are key, with Heine saying, “There are so many bankruptcies per year because of medical bills, so I tend to go right to insurance.” According to ASAE’s research, most associations (74.9 percent) offered a preferred provider organization health plan (PPO). Fewer associations provided a health maintenance organization (HMO, 33.8 percent), high-deductible health plan (27.5 percent), or point of service plan (14.9 percent). Associations sometimes offered multiple plans to choose from, which is why the percentages total more than 100.
Small associations (up to 20 staff) are better for single people, as they pay for most of their employee’s premium (the median paid was 100 percent), but pay little or nothing for dependents. Larger associations are better for families, as they pay a big share of both premiums. Depending on the plan type (HMO or PPO), the median portion of the premium large associations (more than 51 staff) paid for their employees ranged from 75 to 85 percent; similarly, for dependents, the median portion of the premium paid ranged from 70 to 74 percent.
Looking at the median data, most associations start with 10 days of paid vacation, and after five years, move up to 15 days. The largest associations (more than 101 staff) started employees with 11 days and moved to 16.5 days after five years. Sick leave was fairly universal. All except the smallest associations (up to 10 staff), started employees with 10 days of sick leave. The smallest associations median starting leave was 8.5 days. Sick leave did not to change over time, except the smallest associations joined everyone else. After five years of employment, all associations offered a median 10 days of sick leave.
Most associations want to help make sure employees can retire comfortably, so 68.9 percent offer a 401(k) plan and 19.2 percent offer a 403(b) plan (a retirement option only available to select groups, including nonprofits and schools). Some associations offered other types of plans, with a small share (6.1 percent) offering a defined-benefits pension plan.
Small associations offered median contributions of 5 percent, a little less than the largest associations, whose median contribution was 6.5 percent. A little more than a third of respondents said employees had to wait before they become fully vested in the retirement plan. Of those respondents, the median time small associations required employees to wait was five years, compared to three years for the largest associations.
What type of benefits matter most to you? Please tell us in the comments.
The Kronos Performing Arts Association helps manage the Kronos Quartet, a well-known international touring act—while keeping a focus on the underlying mission that drives the group’s work.
In the modern music industry, surviving more than just a few years is difficult.
Given that, it’s impressive that the Kronos Quartet, a chamber ensemble focused on stringed instruments, has kept busy for 46 years—with no signs of slowing down.
A big reason for that is that the quartet has nonprofit support. The Kronos Performing Arts Association, which dates to the 1970s, first came to life for creative reasons—the group, to this day, commissions a large amount of work that it performs on stage and on its dozens of albums. But KPAA does way more than that in the modern day, taking on the roles of artist management, promotion, production, and fundraising, while helping boost music education at all levels and mentoring younger generations of musicians.
According to Managing Director Janet Cowperthwaite, KPAA plays an important behind-the-scenes role, taking care of business affairs while also providing a backbone of organizational structure that goes beyond simple planning.
“There’s a lot of education and community work that we do—which is obviously not as widely reported on as, you know, the Grammy Award-winning recordings and the tours around the world—when they go into a school and coach 12-year-olds playing string quartet,” she explains. “That’s the part that needs the support that a nonprofit organization brings.”
Here are a few ways that KPAA makes its mark, which also offer some insights other associations can learn from:
Improve access to education. One way the association has shown its influence is through the Fifty for the Future project. The multiyear effort, which aims to commission 50 pieces from a variety of up-and-coming composers, was designed to provide freely accessible educational materials to aspiring musicians—all of which can be found on the quartet’s website.
“The purpose of it is to leave a legacy—music that represents Kronos’ kind of ethos—and remove the barriers of access to that music,” Cowperthwaite said.
Re-establish that local imprint with an annual event. Cowperthwaite has long played an active role in managing the quartet’s many musical appearances—the group tours five months out of the year, and she helps manage the touring infrastructure. But KPAA has recently taken to putting on a local festival, which includes both musical and presentational elements.
A driving factor behind the Kronos Festival, the fifth edition of which takes place May 30–June 1, was that then nonprofit wanted to emphasize the group’s roots.
“One of the reasons we started our festival in San Francisco is because … we needed to re-establish ourselves as a group from San Francisco,” she explained. “The group tours so much that a lot of people didn’t realize this is our community. This is where we live.”
Look to the future. Given that the Kronos Quartet is nearing its 50th anniversary in 2023—and three of its four current members, including founder David Harrington, have been active in the quartet for more than 40 years—Cowperthwaite and her board have put a recent focus on succession planning. Why? Beyond the quartet getting older, KPAA itself has long-standing employees. (Cowperthwaite herself has been there since 1981.)
“You know that that can be a tricky conversation,” she sais. “But we’re having it, and we’re thinking about that as a big overlay.”
Despite that ongoing conversation, she notes that the quartet remains busy, at the same level of creative output that it had 15 years ago, and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
One factor that helps keep things moving, of course, is KPAA itself.
“Kronos is at the center of the Kronos Performing Arts Association,” Cowperthwaite said. “But it’s definitely been the organization that has enabled the success of Kronos.”