Archive for the 'Publisher’s Updates' Category

The Year Ahead

Tim SchneiderIn the past few years, the phrase “doing more with less” has become an axiom by which nearly all association executives and meeting planners have had to live their professional lives. According to a new forecast by the meetings division of American Express, this trend will continue to affect the meetings and events industry in 2012—particularly in terms of meeting attendance and duration—but the number of meetings held is expected to increase.

The American Express study surveyed more than 200 meeting professionals and hospitality industry suppliers on what the immediate future holds. Though the data in the survey include corporate meetings, the trends predicted by the survey will no doubt affect association meetings as well. The study forecasts that attendees will continue to demand meetings that are held in convenient locations, feature full agendas and are as “green” as possible.

While none of these demands is especially surprising, the American Express study suggests some groups have been finding creative ways to satisfy them without breaking their budgets. The main beneficiaries of this trend, according to the study, are second- and third-tier destinations, where planners report that they’re better able to bring their meetings in under budget. The study also indicates that planners believe that smaller destinations more easily allow them to provide an intimate setting for gatherings where the focus can be kept on the business at hand.

Meeting planners at state and regional associations have long understood the importance of booking smaller, shorter and more impactful meetings at destinations that can be reached within a day’s drive. According to this American Express study, it would now appear that their counterparts at national associations and in the corporate world are increasingly embracing the same approach. While all of this is good news for second- and third-tier destinations, it also puts first-tier cities on notice that they need to re-examine their value propositions from the perspective of both the meeting planner and the meeting attendee.

Other key trends identified by the American Express study include the fact that lead times for meeting planners have gradually lengthened during the past two years. While this is widely considered a sign of the strengthening health of the meetings industry, organizing meetings in what the study calls a “just-in-time fashion” is a trend that’s likely to continue indefinitely. The study also predicted that demand for mid-tier hotel properties will continue to increase among meeting planners, with the likely outcome being better deals at both high-end and low-end properties. Lastly, the study predicted that airfares for groups are expected to increase anywhere from 2 percent to 7 percent in the coming year.

American Express will be recognized for its long-term support of the travel industry with the 2012 Spirit of Hospitality Award, which is bestowed each year by the Destination and Travel Foundation. This year’s award will be presented during the Destination & Travel Foundation’s Dinner and Dream Auction on February 27 in Washington, D.C. For more information, please see the advertisement on page 25 or click the link for the event at AssociationNews.com.
Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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Life Cycle of a Volunteer

Tim Schneider
Based on my experience working with associations of various types over the years, I believe there are discernable stages in the life cycle of a person who volunteers to serve in association leadership positions. Association executives who become attuned to the phases that typify volunteer service are more likely to be able to direct and maximize the contributions of their volunteer leaders.

Stage 1: The eager recruit. Whether they’re recruited by the association’s paid staff or a fellow member—or they nominate themselves—new board members typically consider their selection a personal compliment and a professional accomplishment. It is not unusual, then, that the new board members’ enthusiasm will be greatest during the first year of board service. That’s unfortunate because this period of greatest energy is typically the stage during which board members are least familiar with their duties and responsibilities. It is, however, an excellent time to involve them with activities that require an extra measure of energy, such as committee leadership or fundraising activities.

Stage 2: The productive board member. By the time volunteers enter the second year of board service, they typically begin to operate in a comfort zone in terms of their understanding of both the association and their role as volunteer leaders. In their second year, board members should be providing a clearer picture of whether or not they’re suited to serve on the association’s executive committee. Even if they do not display the potential for executive committee service, it is usually during this stage that dependable, reliable board members make their greatest contributions to advancing the association.

Stage 3: Dialed in or burned out? Board members who ascend to executive committee service or through some other provision of the bylaws manage to continue serving for more than three years are likely to head in one of two directions: extremely valuable to the organization or extremely disruptive. Board members who have racked up four, five or more years of service to the association become a repository of institutional knowledge—good and bad—and tend to be more likely to meddle in the day-to-day management of the association (an area that should be off-limits in a well-run organization). For this reason, special attention needs to be paid to long-termers so that the weight they’ve accumulated by virtue of their service continues to help propel the association rather than drag it down.

As always, the astute association executive will place a high priority on managing the relationship with the volunteer board. Special emphasis needs to be placed on board-member recruitment and board-member training (it should occur shortly after a board member’s selection) so that stages 1 and 2 can occur concurrently. Attention should also be paid to the association’s bylaws as they relate to the length of board terms. One-year terms are, in my opinion, too short. Anything more than three years, however, tends to lead to the problems identified in stage 3.

Our wish for you this holiday season is that you successfully negotiate the challenging terrain that is association management in the year ahead. Thank you for reading Association News!
Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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Lessons from Steve Jobs

Tim Schneider

In the thousands of words I’ve read about Steve Jobs since his passing on October 5, a portrait emerges of a person whose professional life was characterized by a love of his work and whose ambitions required him to push those he worked with to achieve more than they thought possible. In Jobs’ approach to business, captured succinctly in a recent column by New York Times reporter Steve Lohr, there is much that can be applied to the work of an association executive:

Do whatever it takes to delight customers. Lohr recounts the story of how, only six weeks before the iPhone was to be unveiled in 2007, Jobs decided the touch screen should be made of glass rather than plastic. The decision was a gut-level call by Jobs that required extra investment and an impossible work schedule for the team developing the phone. The last-minute change, Lohr writes, illustrates Jobs’ principle of delivering “insanely great” products by not cutting corners. In this era of tight resources, it’s not often that an association’s chief executive or board of directors spends much time thinking about what the association can do to delight its members. The lesson of Apple’s success in the marketplace would suggest that such a discussion may pay big dividends.

Good ideas take time. In Lohr’s article, he traces Jobs’ path from his ouster from Apple in 1985 to the development of NeXT computer to his return to Apple in 1997. While Jobs had originally conceived of making content available on it, the NeXT computer was never commercially successful. The idea of being a content provider, however, stuck with Jobs and, years later, became the basis for the incredibly successful iTunes store. The lesson here for association managers is that ideas can sometimes take much longer to come to fruition than they are given. In this age of immediate gratification, paid staff executives and volunteer leadership in the association community may find that they would be well served by taking a longer view.

Don’t dwell on mistakes. According to Lohr, Jobs would change his mind many times during the process of developing products as he was forced to deal with the inevitable setbacks that occur in an industry that combines creativity, science and commerce. It was also not unusual for Jobs to be at odds with his own design teams but when they could demonstrate that doing things Jobs’ way would be a mistake, he was quick to embrace their better ideas. In an association setting, the give-and-take that occurs between the paid staff and the volunteer leadership can lead to a similar situation where different approaches to solving the same problem emerge. A deft association executive, just like Steve Jobs, may from time to time have to admit that the volunteers have a better idea, and vice versa.

Passion counts for a lot. Lohr writes that, “The relentless intensity and total commitment that Jobs brought to his work … had a simple explanation: he genuinely enjoyed what he did and found it worthwhile.” In my experience, association executives tend to love what they do. Aligning that passion with volunteer leadership attuned to creating an organization that will stand the test of time is a recipe for a truly rewarding career.

To read the full article by Steve Lohr, please click here.

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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ASAE’s New Proposals

Tim SchneiderThe American Society of Association Exec-utives is seeking comment from the association community on a set of new proposals that would restrict government employees from attending “widely attended gatherings” held by trade associations. According to ASAE, the proposed regulations seek to prohibit any government employee from attending a trade association event, accepting gifts (even if the value is less than the currently allowed $20) or attending a social gathering if that association employs a registered lobbyist.

ASAE has prepared an analysis of the proposed regulations, which you can read here. The group is also gathering feedback from the association community in anticipation of preparing its official response. I encourage you to share your views with ASAE by e-mailing rhay@asaenet.org or calling (202) 626-2788.

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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Happiness as Compensation

Tim SchneiderDuring the last few years, a lot of associations have had to streamline and are asking staff members to do more with less. Fortunately, according to Todd Patkin, author of the new book “Finding Happiness,” managers can show staff members how much they appreciate their efforts without breaking the bank.

“People will never admit it, but money is not the thing they desire most from their work. Instead, showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work,” says Patkin, who grew his family-owned business using the principles he espouses. Patkin made it his number-one priority to always put his employees and their happiness first. “As a leader, I quickly found that if my team was content and their work environment was a positive one, they would be more engaged and motivated, and they would truly care about our organization’s future.”

To that end, Patkin offers these five strategies:

Send “love” notes. Patkin advises executives to send a specific, handwritten note conveying their sincere appreciation and admiration when they see a job has been well done. “When you’re a leader, you’re busy and often overwhelmed,” Patkin acknowledges. “Remember, though, that positive reinforcement and sincere gratitude will increase the respect your team has for you and will improve their opinion of your entire organization. Also, it will encourage them to likewise say ‘thank you’ more often to their own subordinates.”
Distribute inspiration. According to Patkin, buoying your team’s spirits should be one of your daily goals. “If you run across a quotation or story that inspires you, don’t keep it to yourself—pass it along to your employee,” suggests Patkin.
Tell success stories. Patkin notes that even if they brush off praise or downplay their achievements, everybody loves to be recognized and complimented. He advises executives that, when someone in their organization has done something great, tell that person—and tell the rest of the team, too. Whether correctly or incorrectly, many employees feel that their leaders take them for granted and only point out their mistakes, so make it your daily mission to prove that perception wrong.
Identify stars. According to Patkin, identifying stars is taking the concept behind telling success stories to the next level by recognizing employees at a regular event. “Instead of singling out just one person, you might even consider recognizing multiple individuals every month,” Patkin suggests.
Make it a family affair. Whenever possible, engage your employees’ families when praising them, advises Patkin. Having a leader validate all the hours each team member spends at work will be remembered far longer than a bonus.

“Showing people love, appreciation, and respect trumps money just about every time when it comes to building long-term motivation and boosting employee morale and loyalty,” concludes Patkin. That’s an important thing for executives at associations and other nonprofit organizations to keep in mind as they manage their organizations during these uncertain economic times. To order, “Finding Happiness,” please visit the bookstore at AssociationNews.com

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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The Way Forward

Tim SchneiderLast month, while the nation prepared to observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Travel Association released a new set of 10 recommendations that it hopes will strengthen traveler security while encouraging more travel to and within the U.S. in the decade ahead. These principles are important to association executives and meeting planners who depend on domestic and international attendees at their meetings, conventions and trade shows. They’re also important to the destinations, hotels and suppliers that are a part of the association meetings industry.

With the stated goal of building the world’s most secure and efficient travel system, the U.S. Travel Association’s recommendations center on three key areas: Reducing traveler wait times, improving customer service and adopting risk-based approaches to traveler security:

  1. Reduce TSA checkpoint delays to 10 minutes or less
  2. Decrease visa wait times to 10 days or less
  3. Decrease wait times for international arrivals to 20 minutes or less
  4. Engage the private sector to train customs and TSA officers in customer service
  5. Make online consular services more user friendly
  6. Embrace videoconferencing technology for visa interviews
  7. Establish a nationwide trusted traveler program
  8. Expand the Visa Waiver Program
  9. Streamline the visa process for repeat visitors
  10. Expand the customs service’s Global Entry Program

While the events of 9/11 and the economic turmoil experienced in the years since have presented challenges for meeting planners and the domestic travel industry, the past 10 years have been particularly difficult on international travel to the United States. According to the U.S. Travel Association, global long-haul travel grew 40 percent from 2000 to 2010, but overseas travel to the United States during this time rose only 2 percent. Even though there are more travelers worldwide, U.S. market share of the global travel market has dropped from 17 percent in 2000 to 12.4 percent in 2010.

According to U.S. Travel’s estimates, if the U.S. had simply kept pace with the growth in long-haul international travel in the past decade, 78 million more travelers would have visited the United States. Those visitors would have added a total of $606 billion to the U.S. economy and created approximately 476,000 additional jobs in the U.S. in each of the past 10 years.

The U.S. Travel Association believes that the implementation of these recommendations will help the U.S. attract more international visitors, encourage increasing levels of domestic travel and create more travel-related jobs. Their implementation also has the potential of strengthening the attendance at association meetings and trade shows. For more details, please visit the U.S. Travel Association website at ustravel.org.

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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How to Add Value

Tim SchneiderIt has become standard practice in the advertising industry for clients to ask for “added value” when requesting a proposal from a publication or other media outlet. The concept of added value, however, is one that can be applied in almost any situation, whether it’s an employee looking for career advancement, a supplier looking to strengthen client relationships or an association looking to recruit and retain members.

In order to truly add value, you first must have a clear idea of what’s required in a particular situation. Whether it’s a job description or a business proposal, documenting in writing the basics establishes the playbook from which those concerned can receive guidance. It is important to realize, however, that written requirements may or may not capture all of the expectations of the person preparing the playbook. That’s because the written requirements tend to detail what’s hoped for as the end result, not how the end results are achieved. The “how” usually involves behavior and work styles that may or may not fall within the range of expectations of the person requesting the action.

Assuming, however, that both what’s required and what’s expected can be delivered, then and only then can you hope to add value. Indeed, truly adding value only occurs when you’re able to go beyond meeting the basic requirements and expectations in a particular situation. In the case of an employer/employee relationship, for example, only when the employee is handling the requirements of the job contained in the written job description and is behaving in ways that meet or exceed the expectations of the employer is the employee in a position to add value. At that point, taking on a project or a responsibility that is not a part of the job description constitutes added value for the employer.

In a supplier/client relationship, simply delivering what was ordered and doing so in a timely manner is usually enough to satisfy both the requirements and the expectations. Adding value means doing something more—perhaps upgrading the product delivered or shortening the time it takes to deliver it. Following up to make sure the customer is satisfied when it’s neither required nor expected can certainly be a form of added value.

In an association setting, adding value means delivering not only the membership benefits promised and routinely satisfying your members’ expectations but also finding ways to exceed their expectations. Since different categories of members have varying needs and expectations, it is imperative that association managers devise ways of adding value specific to membership type. In the field of association management, added value is very rarely a case of “one size fits all.”

The good news when it comes to added value is that while doing it successfully requires careful advance consideration, delivering the added value itself is often exceedingly simple. At an association, for example, it can be as easy as scheduling time each week for the chief executive to phone several key members just to stay in touch. For those members, that one additional, personalized contact from the association may be just enough added value to keep them loyal in the organization for years to come.

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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We Look Forward to Seeing You in New Orleans!

As we travel this week to New Orleans for DMAI’s Annual Convention, I am pleased to announce that Schneider Publishing has renewed its Alliance Partnership with DMAI. We truly value the terrific relationships we’ve built with DMOs and see our support of DMAI as way of strengthening this industry that is so important to the economic and cultural well being of our nation and world.

Celebrating the economic and cultural importance of the travel industry comes naturally to New Orleans, and we’re very excited that the Crescent City and the dynamic leader of the New Orleans Metropolitan CVB, Stephen Perry, will be hosting this year’s annual convention. At Stephen’s suggestion, we’re proud to announce that we’ll be supporting the opening of what is sure to become an institution on the city’s vibrant landscape, the I Club, owned by legendary New Orleans jazz musician Irvin Mayfield. DMAI members will be among the first to set foot in this new club as we’ll be hosting the opening-night party at the I Club beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 (following the conclusion of the DMAI Opening Celebration).

To join us at the I Club (which is located a short walk from the Sheraton), please contact any of our team members listed below or see them during the DMAI activities on Wednesday, July 20, including the DMAI Opening Celebration. You must get an admission ticket from one of our team members in order to attend as this will be an exclusive, unique opportunity to support the New Orleans hospitality industry.

Teri Burke (Association News/Western Region)
teri.burke@schneiderpublishing.com
Frank Cina (Association News/Northeast Region)
frank.cina@schneiderpublishing.com
Ilana Edell (SportsTravel & TEAMS/Western Region)
ilana.edell@schneiderpublishing.com
Lisa Furfine (Associate Publisher)
lisa.furfine@schneiderpublishing.com
Yvonne Garcia (SportsTravel & TEAMS/Eastern Region)
yvonne.garcia@schneiderpublishing.com
Susan Hojer (Association News/Great Lakes Region)
susan.hojer@schneiderpublishing.com
Alan Rock (Association News/Southeast Region)
alan.rock@schneiderpublishing.com

We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans and hope you’ll also stop by and see us in Booth #500 at the DMAI Business Exchange.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Tim SchneiderTimothy Schneider
President & CEO

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R.O.I. Reconsidered

Tim SchneiderA recent study by the Melbourne (Australia) Convention & Visitors Bureau, titled “The Holistic Value of Business Events,” attempts to track and quantify the impact of meetings beyond the direct and indirect spending that meetings create. The results of the study provide ammunition for association executives and meeting planners looking to make the case for the value of their meetings not only to host cities but also to attendees and exhibitors as well.

The study sought to determine the long-term benefits that flow from business events by taking an in-depth look at four association meetings that were held in Melbourne in the second half of 2009. While the economic assessments that were conducted at the conclusion of each of the four conferences produced relatively consistent results in terms of attendee expenditures, the study also detected consistency in the “beyond tourism” benefits generated by the events. The attendees at all of the events reported deriving the following benefits from participating in the events:

* 50 percent gained information that will enhance their personal or business performance
* 54 percent developed new business relationships
* 63 percent enhanced their visibility within their industry sector
* 69 percent increased the profile of their expertise within their industry
* 82 percent forged closer ties with the presenters, attendees and exhibitors participating in the events

The majority of the respondents also indicated they achieved the following as a result of attending the conferences:

* Expressions of interest from potential customers, sponsors or investors
* Exposure to innovative or improved business practices
* Increased knowledge of the market in which they operate and the entities against which they compete

Like most organizations, we routinely attempt to evaluate the return on investment we achieve by participating in trade shows and conferences. What the Melbourne CVB study shows is that often, that return on investment may not be so easily measured. After all, putting a present or future dollar value on an enhanced industry profile, expanded contacts, increased market knowledge and improved performance is not something most accounting departments could possibly do. Therefore, associations that organize conventions and trade shows need to be sure they are regularly reminding attendees, exhibitors and sponsors that R.O.I. may include many things the’re not even attempting to measure.

The July issues of Association News and SportsTravel include our annual supplement produced in conjunction with Destination Marketing Association International which will be of interest to association executives, meeting planners and destination marketing professionals. To view the standalone publication of “Meeting the Future,” click here.

Voting is now underway for the 2011 SportsTravel Awards. To cast your ballot, please click the “Vote Now” button at SportsTravelMagazine.com. The awards will be presented at TEAMS ’11, October 3-6 in Las Vegas.

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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Avoiding Elegant Failure

Tim Schneider
Most association executives at one time or another have  been faced with a team—be it a volunteer board or their paid staff—that is suddenly not clicking. According to John Hamm, author of the new book “Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership,” it might be they’ve caught the disease he describes as “failing elegantly.”

According to Hamm, this syndrome sets in when people stop believing they can be successful and instead devote their energies to losing gracefully. Hamm identifies several key leadership mistakes that can put any team at risk for this disease, and suggests remedies for proactively avoiding elegant failure:

Setting impossible goals. Hamm points out that leaders need to understand the difference between an invigorating challenge and a wholly deflating expectation. “Goals that are clearly beyond any reasonable confidence of achievement are worse than easy goals—they actually disengage your team’s energy,” writes Hamm.

Letting people get pseudo-wins by “majoring in the minors.” This occurs when a group ignores or resists tackling difficult problems, preferring instead to focus on simpler tasks, or ones that are simply more fun. According to Hamm, leaders “must relentlessly redirect energy to the hard problems, realizing that it is human nature to drift from the tough stuff in favor of more emotionally fulfilling and easier projects.”

Tolerating “the dog ate my homework” and other common excuses. Hamm suggests that too much tolerance blurs the line between success and failure. “what you want, and what the winner’s mind-set demands, are insightful explanations for the gap between expected and actual performance,” says Hamm.

Allowing sloppiness and imprecision. “Leaders want to be good people, and they want to show others that they have the wisdom to accept human frailty,” says Hamm. “But high-reliability organizations never allow sloppiness.”

Encouraging “editorialized” data. Leaders who signal, even unconsciously, their dislike of bad news often lead team members to “spin” negative information instead of giving an accurate account. Hamm writes that leaders should demand that data “be delivered promptly and be uncolored, objective, plentiful, and robust. This data is used to figure out what is working and what isn’t, so that corrections to course and speed can be made.”

Failing to measure what matters. Hamm points to the Crosby Quality Institute and its edict: You will get what you inspect, not what you expect. “Measuring what matters is perhaps the very highest use of leadership authoriy,” explains Hamm.

Allowing “good enough” instead of an absolute commitment to winning. “Passive acceptance of failure, and the rationalization that always goes with it, is a cancer that can begin anywhere in the organization,” says Hamm. “You can prevent it by setting clear and precise standards of behavior for everyone on the teams, as well as clear consequences for the violation of those standards. And you can control it through continuous and open communication.”

For further information, visit unusuallyexcellent.com. Copies of Hamm’s book are available for purchase by clicking on the Bookstore at AssociationNews.com.

Tim Schneider

Tim Schneider
Schneider Publishing Company

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