In the 2021 Otus Assocation Exchange (OAX) survey, nearly half of association respondents said they have experienced a decline in membership numbers and associated revenue since March 2020. Now, associations must think strategically about how to reach their revenue targets with small teams and limited budgets.
The widespread adoption of online events presents new revenue opportunities that associations can capitalize on as they return to meeting in person—even with very limited human resources. By leveraging digital ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities, associations can tap into new revenue streams to increase their bottom line.
But how do you incorporate virtual components that will support your main event instead of distracting from it? How do you drive revenue and provide valuable content for members who cannot attend in person? In this article, we will explore 5 digital strategies you can use to increase your event revenue irrespective of your team size or budget.
1. Turn Your Annual Conference App Into a Year-Round Member Engagement Hub
Your annual conference app offers a prime opportunity to increase revenue that many associations miss out on. After your event ends, the conference app can serve as a persistent digital home for member networking, industry education and entertainment. You can further your cost savings by using it to host your webinars and member meet-ups.
All you need to do is keep the event app open after the event and allocate updating it with content for remote consumption to your Volunteer Leader, Component Relations, or Chapter Manager. This team member can then use the app to cultivate a thriving member engagement hub by interacting and encouraging engagement from members.
“Offer a limited number of members reduced or free admission to your events in exchange for their help creating content, providing them with specific requirements and tasks to engage members in your event community space on an ongoing basis,”— suggests Association Chat creator and host KiKi L’Italien.
Similar to a learning management system (LMS), you can sell members tiered access to different video libraries for continuing education and training. You can also offer sponsors their own video library to showcase product videos, demos, and educational content to increase brand awareness and generate leads from your membership base.
Using your conference app as a year-round member engagement hub has the added benefit of saving you valuable time. An event platform like EventMobi is all-in-one, which means your members only need to familiarize themselves with one platform no matter if they are using the app on-site, attending your event remotely, or accessing content in their own time. This cuts down training time and also makes it easier for the person managing the platform to master it.
2. Use video to help drive registrations for your in-person and virtual events
Over the past few years, a raft of research has proven that video content is the ideal content format to drive member engagement. HubSpot found that 81% of viewers are more likely to act in favor of a brand after viewing their video content.
Create videos that give members and sponsors a taste of what is to come. This is a powerful way to drive event sign-ups for your in-person and virtual events. Think of it as a teaser showcasing the best bits from your events, with the goal of intriguing your audience and encouraging them to register.
ASAE Research shows that greater member engagement leads to higher levels of retention and augments the value proposition of membership. Video can be a great opportunity to highlight active volunteer leaders and emerging young professionals sharing what they are most excited about at your upcoming event. The video production could be managed by the same team members who are responsible for planning the main conference.
3. Welcome remote attendees into your live in-person conference sessions
Offering live streams of your in-person sessions to a remote audience provides two opportunities to generate extra revenue:
- Virtual ticket sales
- Digital sponsorship opportunities
Some associations might be resistant to the idea of virtual because they believe it will reduce the number of in-person attendees. Research from UFI suggests that the majority of attendees and sponsors prefer to meet their event objectives in-person rather than virtually. Therefore anyone who can attend your event in person likely will, but those that are unable to travel will not be left out.
Offering real-time remote access to your event will allow you to attract new members who want a taster of the event before attending in person, as well as current members who are prevented from attending due to budget constraints or carbon offsetting mandates. Providing a concurrent live stream accessible in your event app enables them to experience the excitement of your live event at the same as your in-person attendees.
This is potentially the most expensive and time-intensive format on this list. You can approach this format in several different ways, from hiring an A/V team onsite to live stream all your sessions for remote attendees, to selecting only a curated batch of sessions to live stream to your virtual audience.
Do you want more tips on how to keep your attendees engaged year-round?
4. Offer recordings of your in-person sessions post-event to your remote audience
If offering a concurrent digital live stream is out of your budget, then consider making your speaker sessions available to your remote audience after the event is over.
By making your speaker sessions available post-event, you can generate revenue via member subscriptions as well as sponsorship sales. Members can subscribe to specific content libraries, whilst sponsors can build awareness by having their branding visible as overlays, tickers and ad breaks in speaker videos. You can also empower sponsors to build brand loyalty by offering members high-quality on-demand content and being an actively engaged member of the year-round community.
To make this happen all you need is a member of your team to upload the speaker videos onto your conference app. A platform like EventMobi makes this simple to do. EventMobi’s new Video Library feature makes downloading live streams and uploading them into channel-style pages possible with two clicks. Uploading video files takes just one! Each page comes complete with content recommendations and comment sections for attendees to start conversations with one another.
5. Plan a limited schedule of virtual events
Virtual events provide associations with opportunities to interact and engage with members at different points in the year, leading up to and after the main annual event. However, it’s important not to overload members with too many virtual events and webinar invites. Focus on having a limited schedule of high-quality digital events as FOMO will drive sign-ups.
These touchpoints throughout the year can add value to a membership subscription by providing useful, timely updates on the latest information in the industry. They can also serve as an opportunity for members to network with others in their community, and have discussions about challenges they are facing, and possible solutions. Sponsors can also benefit from using these virtual events to gather quality leads throughout the year. Depending on the type of virtual event you are organizing, you may decide to have one dedicated sponsor or multiple. This can be managed by the same person who plans the in-person event.
With EventMobi, all video and live stream content can be managed from the platform, which streamlines the process for your association because you will only need to work with one vendor. It also improves your ability to track what is working (and what isn’t!) so you can quickly adjust your event program and keep control of all your data.
Increasing revenues can be a daunting task for already-stretched small teams, but as we’ve outlined above, there are several exciting ways associations can use events to meet their revenue targets. By leveraging the potential of online components, associations will be able to increase their revenue from members as well as provide new and varied sponsorship opportunities. The key is to pick the type of virtual add-ons that will be most attractive to your attendees, whilst keeping it manageable for the team, and within budget.