Association Virtual Meetings Deliver Value Worth Paying For
Perhaps you want to reach more association members by changing some of your face-to-face events to virtual ones. Or maybe in response to current social distancing requirements, you need to move to a completely virtual format. Whatever your reason, you’re probably also wondering how and if a change in price needs to accompany the change in format.
Some on your board may think that because you will be meeting over a technology platform, virtual meetings can’t be nearly as valuable to members, and as a result, virtual meetings should be free. Before making any quick decisions, do some research. In the short term, free meetings might bring more attendees, but in the longer term, they could actually devalue the importance your members place on these meetings, which could lead to less attendees.
Free events often have less perceived value than those with a charge attached to attendance. Research has shown that no-show rates for free events can be as high as 50 percent; many who register find something more worthwhile to do. Doorkeeper shared that in a review of their more than 10,000 events, they learned that charging something, even a minimal amount, reduced no-shows to as low as 10 percent.
There are many questions around virtual meetings. What is the best way to hold a virtual meeting for your association? How long should an association virtual meeting last? How do you encourage participation in virtual meetings? What are the advantages of virtual meetings? What should you charge for registration?
Ask association members what they’d pay
Ask those who would be paying, using a method called the Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter (PSM). PSM uses open-ended questions related to price and quality, to illuminate the prices members consider too low, low but a good value, expensive but they’d still attend, and too expensive. Plotting the responses on a single graph, the intersections provide a realistic idea of what association members would be willing to pay.
Here are some good PSM-type questions to ask:
- What price is so low that you are concerned about the quality of the event? (too cheap)
- What’s an economical price for this meeting? i.e. what price would you consider a great buy for what you’ve spent? (cheap/good value)
- What price is starting to get expensive, but is still a price you might pay? (expensive)
- What would you consider too expensive and wouldn’t attend for that amount? (too expensive)
Your results will be stronger if, when you ask, you provide details about the kind of meeting they’d be attending, like the format - live sessions, chats, Q&A, breakout sessions, etc. - an idea of the speaker or presentation, and the benefits of attending.
Provide what association members want, and they expect to pay
Because there are fewer costs associated with virtual events–no need for travel, food, signage, equipment rentals, etc.–you can price a virtual event lower and still see a profit. However, for members to pay, and attend future events, it’s important to position the event in a way that delivers the value members expect.
Using the following messaging can help:
- We want to keep our community, e.g. our members, thriving, and we will continue to provide guidance and resources for you in this uncertain time.
- You’ll be able to network with your peers and business associates effectively in our virtual environment.
- As a chapter, we need your support to continue to provide these resources.
You may think a virtual meeting is less valuable than an in-person one. However, less valuable is different from a complete depletion in value. That difference means your event does not, and should not, be free. You may think that people don’t have money to spend on chapter events, and you may feel guilty about charging for any of your events out of fear that no one will come because they can’t pay. That’s the wrong attitude, even now.
Messaged correctly, your members will see your chapter as the resource and outlet they need. And you can’t provide the sense of community they need without revenue.