How Conferences Generate Revenue. No Dues Needed!

Virtually every trade association is trying to find ways to generate non-dues revenue in the current sluggish economy, and thankfully, there are many ways to do this. From offering professional certification courses to providing subscription-based content, the methods used today to generate non-dues revenue are quite easy to implement, but there’s one method that is vastly under-used: hosting an association conference. By hosting a conference, associations can draw in more non-dues revenue and attract new members by charging an attendance fee while offering valuable content from industry experts and association leaders.

SEE ALSO: How to Diversify Revenue Streams for Your Association

Planning a Conference

In order to be successful in hosting a paid conference, you first need to put in the time to plan out the details. When deciding upon a location for the conference, look for areas that are easily accessible by vehicles and by airlines. Likewise, you’ll want to find a venue that is large enough to support the conference and its attendees. Different associations have different membership numbers, so factor in the size of your association. Also, remember that you’ll also want to plan for the possibility of attendance by professionals who are not currently in your association. You might also decide to break out certain events at the conference that are paid, meaning there’s one price to attend the conference, but then separate events are paid for separately. This will give attendees the chance to focus on events that they really want to attend.

Marketing Your Conference

Once you have everything planned out in detail, you’ll then need to market your conference. This can be done through your website, social media profiles, and newsletter, but don’t forget that you’ll also want to get the word out to non-members. To do this, consider advertising in trade publications, and make sure to include information that clearly states that all in the industry are welcome to attend. In fact, you may give a special discount to non-members in order to entice them.

Hosting Your Conference

When it comes time to actually host your conference, it would be a good idea to have certain individuals in your organization designated specifically to keeping things on schedule, especially if you’re hosting a large conference. When you have a lot of people doing a lot of things with no clear guidelines, the program can get off track rather quickly. By having people designated as timekeepers, you’ll be less likely to get behind and attendees will be more likely to enjoy themselves and gain valuable information from your presenters. You’ll also want to have security, administrative, and financial staff on-hand to keep things running smoothly.

After Your Conference

Once your conference has wrapped up, follow up with any contacts that you made, including non-members who showed interest in joining your association. Once again, you may decide to offer non-members a discount on their first round of dues for joining. Remember, the goal is to increase non-dues revenue while attracting new members who will eventually be paying full dues like the rest of your members.

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