Tips & Tools

  • 01 Oct 2012 10:39 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a nationwide program that honors young people in grades 5-12 who are volunteering in their communities. Youth who have engaged in a volunteer activity that occurred during the 12 months prior to the date of application are eligible to apply. Local Honorees are selected in November and from these winners two State Honorees are chosen in each state and the District of Columbia. State Honorees receive an award of $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC for national recognition events. Out of the State Honorees, ten National Honorees are selected to receive an additional award of $5,000 as well as a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit organization of their choice. The application deadline is November 6, 2012. Visit the Prudential website for online application information.
  • 30 Aug 2012 9:21 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    When it comes to hotel cancellation clauses, what you don't negotiate can cost you.  See this article from Exhibitor magazine for some good tips in dealing with hotel cancellation clauses, including a sample clause. Protect your organization!
  • 22 Aug 2012 4:18 PM | Deleted user
    Planning for the unplanned:
    How to limit your liability


    By Qualena Odom-Royes, CSEP, CMP

    By definition, liability is the state of being legally responsible for something or someone because of your failure to act. True, it may not always be our fault, but as super meeting planners we must take precautions to mitigate the potential liability at each of our events.

    Here are some simple tips to limit liability.

    Food & beverage

    We know that a little bit of alcohol can get the ball rolling at an event. We also know that there will always be someone who has had one too many:
    • Serve a signature beverage instead of having a full bar.
    • Serve just beer and wine.
    • Opt for a cocktail hour, which can reduce alcohol consumption.
    • Use licensed bartenders.

    Risk assessment & analysis

    You spend months planning a meeting, so why not add risk management to your planning process? Plan with the possibility that anything and everything will go wrong. If it does, you're prepared:
    • Conduct a risk assessment and analysis of your event and design a formal response plan.
    • Share your response plan with your team members as well as the venue.
    • Designate a team leader who can initiate the response plan, if necessary.
    • Create your own event incident forms and have them available in the event of an emergency.
    Compliance
    Following rules and regulations may be a pain especially when they can impact the design or function of your program. It's better to plan ahead to avoid unnecessary and unexpected expenses:
    • Make sure your vendors are licensed and insured. Collect copies of their proof of insurance.
    • Confirm that your event complies with all local and state regulations.
    • Make sure your event complies with intellectual property rights (music licensing).
    • Make sure that your events are ADA compliant (Americans With Disabilities Act).
    Insurance
    Even if you follow all of these tips and double-check your lists to mitigate your risk and liability, you are still not fully protected. Business owners and independent planners should always go one step further and explore purchasing an insurance policy to protect themselves. Some of the more popular policies:
    • Comprehensive general liability insurance typically covers property damage, bodily injury, medical expenses, damages to venues that you rent and personal and advertising injury. A separate replacement policy - equipment and contents - covers business equipment such as laptops and copiers.
    • Errors and omissions or E&O insurance fills in some of the voids that comprehensive general liability insurance excludes such as negligence, misrepresentation and violation of good faith. E&O for event planners is like malpractice insurance for doctors.
    • A Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP) provides liability coverage above and beyond your standard homeowners and car insurance. This coverage protects against large liability claims or judgments, kicking in where your other liability coverage stops.
    Depending on your situation, there may be other insurance options for you to think about including workers' compensation, event cancellation, business interruption and disability insurances.

    When all else fails, it is in your best interest to always have as backup plan.

    To quote columnist Harvey Mackay, "When you fail to plan - you plan to fail."
  • 06 Aug 2012 2:40 PM | Deleted user

    Make Meetings More Profitable

    ASSOCIATIONS NOW, February 2011 , Intelligence

    Are your meetings and events leaving profits on the table? Probably, according to James Hollan, president and CEO of International Meetings Group LLC.

    In his previous work as a financial turnaround specialist for nonprofits and associations, Hollan typically kickstarted a turnaround by focusing on the organization's meetings. "And they would say, are you nuts? They are the only thing that's been making money for us for these last couple of years," Hollan recalls.

    But that initial disbelief would change when delving into the meeting budgets showed the potential to increase profit fivefold or more. "Because they were making a profit, people assumed that they were making a reasonable profit," Hollan says.

    Your meeting may have untapped profitability potential, too. Hollan suggests you begin with the following:

    • Look for the little things. One association with a 1,000-person meeting served continental breakfast every day, including fresh fruit, which was included at a single board member's insistence. Hollan pointed out that by removing the fruit from those breakfasts, the organization could save $27,000, plus taxes. "And that's a meeting for 1,000. Imagine a meeting for 5,000 or 6,000," says Hollan. "I'm never saying you want a cheap meeting … you want a wow meeting. But you want to look at everything and see, can you still put on a great breakfast without the fruit?"
    • Build your budget from the discounted price. When creating an event budget, base your projected registration income off of your lowest discounted registration feeundefinedthe member price, early-bird price, or what have youundefinedinstead of the full, undiscounted fee, which will not be paid by many registrants. Hollan calls this "a basic mistake that is constantly made."
    • Price your meeting at the level it deserves. "People go in and they say, ‘We want to compete with this group, so we're going to do this meeting, but we're going to do it cheaper.' Do you really want to be known as the cheap meeting?" asks Hollan. "Make your event worth the kind of dollars you need to charge. … You have to believe in yourself, and you have to make your meeting worthwhile."
    • Take a look at the competition. You can learn a lot from a basic competitive analysis. "Associations think they're unique, when in fact they are not,” says Hollan. "There really is a way to sit down and think, what are other people charging, and what are they giving for that?”  In fact, you can get a lot of the information you need with some basic internet skills. Visit your competitors (both nonprofit and for profit) online and see what they charge, what they offer, and what attendance figures they promote, and you'll start to get a picture of where your event fits into the competitive environment.  Hollan says that you may even find that you've been underpricing your event - in which case, don't be afraid to raise that registration fee. "We have looked at associations that are underperforming for their meetings, and they were really undercharging,” says Hollan. "We convinced them to raise their rates substantially for what they should charge. They did get a falloff in attendance; however, their profitability went up.” And in all but one case, those associations found that within two or three years, the attendees they lost due to the higher price point returned to the conference. "They invested money in that meeting to make it worth attending,” he says.
    • Talk to your exhibitors and sponsors. The exhibitors and sponsors who support your meeting have a vested interest in its successundefinedand they know their own businesses better than anyone. Hollan recommends simply speaking with them and asking what they would want to receive in return for your proposed higher exhibit fee or sponsorship category. You'll be surprised by the creative ideas you'll hear.
    • Negotiate with your vendors. "Everything is negotiable,” says Hollan. "My job is to give great representation for my folks, and [the vendor's] job is to give great representation for their folks. I may have 50 things on the table and I'd love to get every one of them, but I won't. At the end of things, I'll get 25 and [the vendor] will get 25, but that those 25 things can be $100,000 back in my pocket.”
    • Understand the hotel's business model. Hotels are in business to make money, and they make that money through certain business practices. You'll be much more successful in your negotiations if you understand and work with their model. For example, if you're willing to shift your meeting's arrival pattern to fit in more efficiently with another meeting the hotel is hosting the same week, the hotel may be more willing to negotiate other elements of your contract.  Don't have a background in hotel management? One possibility is just to ask your hotel partners directly. "All of the big hotels have programs for their better clients where they sit you down and say, ‘Here's how we make our money,' because they believe that when you understand them better, you'll be able to make more deals,” says Hollan.
    • Market to the entire person. Hollan says that "a huge mistake associations make” is to market as if their potential attendees had no interests outside of their work. If your attendees are combining vacation with their conference attendance, or bringing their spouse and family along for the trip, they're making a decision that is both personal and professional, and your marketing plan needs to take that into account.

  • 23 Jul 2012 8:45 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    From Department of Defense

    The Legacy Resource Management Program provides support for activities designed to assist Department of Defense efforts to preserve the nation’s natural and cultural heritage by protecting and enhancing resources while supporting military readiness. Supported projects may involve regional ecosystem management initiatives, habitat preservation efforts, archaeological investigations, invasive species control, Native American consultations, or monitoring and predicting migratory patterns of birds and animals. The application deadline is August 30, 2012.
  • 13 Jun 2012 5:27 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    BeaconLive is an industry leader in providing webinars, webcast, and online event services for Associations. Whether you are looking to conduct regular online meetings with your field staff and volunteers, broadcast your Annual Meeting live over the internet, or would like to offer discounted web conferencing services to your members as a benefit – BeaconLive has a solution!

    BeaconLive currently works with many Associations providing our services to marketing, training, and public relations representatives to include the American Bar Association, Healthcare Compliance Association, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Arthroscopy Association of North America and many others.

    I’m confident that your association, staff, and volunteers will see the difference and will benefit from the experience of our Event Producers and Conference Moderators and the comprehensive web conferencing product line that BeaconLive offers.

    Your members expect and deserve the best online experience – and that’s what BeaconLive delivers!

    For more information please contact me direct or click here:  http://beaconlive.com/industries-served/associations/

    John Craine
    BeaconLive
    www.beaconlive.com
    434 927 4122 Direct
    jcraine@beaconlive.com

  • 17 May 2012 3:30 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    We all know the importance of evaluating programs - whether they are a single non-profit's project, a larger collaboration, or a for-profit entity.  "Program evaluation is carefully collecting information about a program or some aspect of a program in order to make necessary decisions about the program."

    In this industry, and particularly in these challenging times, evaluation of programs is of utmost importance.  This online guide provides a basic guide to program evaluation, and should greatly assist those needing to learn more about the topic.
  • 16 May 2012 2:33 PM | Deleted user
    Here are a few tips based on what I’ve learned along the way by Kivi Leroux Miller

    Sketch out an editorial calendar. Even if you don’t follow it exactly, it helps you keep on track with the kinds of things you want your blog to be known for.

    Get help from guest bloggers. Try to publish a guest post about once a week. It takes some of the pressure off you and freshens up the voice of your blog.

    Come up with some regular features.  Create some regular "staples" in your blog, and stick with the theme. It’s one less post you have to get creative with and it creates things for readers to look forward to.

    Get help with the blog admin. Ask them to manage your guest posting schedule, help format the guests posts, and creates the first drafts of your regular "staple" section. You can also ask them to brainstorm with you to come up with new ideas.

    Make room to go with what strikes you. The easiest posts to write are the ones that you are emotional about in some way, whether it’s excited, or impressed, or annoyed. When the mood strikes, scrap what’s scheduled and write it!

    Make it a habit. 

    Write ahead. When you know you are going to be traveling a lot, try to write several posts in advance of the publishing date on your editorial calendar. You can always bump them to a later date if something really timely comes up.

    When in doubt, do a list post! Like this one.

    Good Luck and Happy Blogging!

    ------------
    This information was pulled from Kivi's Nonprofit Communiations Blog:
  • 11 May 2012 3:11 PM | Deleted user
    I’ve covered the importance of Youtube for your event marketing on a NUMBER of OCCASIONS.
    Above all, I cannot stress enough that Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world. If we are talking acquisitions (i.e. new customers), I strongly suggest using Youtube to fuel videos from your past events, interviews with speakers and featured content.
    You are not too late to join the YouMovement. In fact I think the service has only recently really become an effective marketing machine for your event. Therefore open up the video folder in your computer and let’s get started.

    What You Need Before Starting
    • Some Videos.
    There is no point in starting a channel without any video. It’s actually quite bad. I would suggest focusing your mind on any piece of video content that you think may be relevant to your objective. If you are not sure about what your objective is, read THIS.
    Pick up the phone and contact the video company you called for the last event you run.
    Line up at least five videos and you are ready to go.
    • A Google Account.
    Easy Peasy. Get one HERE. Note that if you use any Google service as a registered user (GMail, GOOGLE+, GOOGLE ANALYTICS) you can use the same login details.

    Tweak the Settings
    • Appearance
    Make sure the color scheme of your channel matches your EVENT WEBSITE’S look and feel. Know your colours and make sure the experience is consistent across different platforms. Uploading a custom background, specifically designed for your channel is ideal.
    • Info & Settings
    The description of your Channel should tell it all. Be very accurate with the words you select and keep in mind the action you want from those who visit. Is it subscriptions? Is it clicks on your Website?
    • Website
    If you want Youtube visitors to check your website, make sure you use a unique link so you can track how many people Youtube is referring. It is also advisable to use trackable links on the description of each video. MEASURING THE SUCCESS OF YOUR EVENT MARKETING should always be in the back of your mind.
    • Tags
    Run a comprehensive search on the relevant tags that you should use. How do you do that? Identify your topic, i.e. the subject of your event, search for popular channels on the subject and check what tags they use. It will help you to identify the most used tags in your subject area. Tags a really important, do not skip this step.
    • Default Tab
    Choose a Featured Tab as your default Tab
    • Featured Tab Setting
    I would suggest to pick “Creator” for the style of your default view. It will help you to select only the videos you choose for those who land on your channel.

    Video Uploading and SEO

    Uploading videos is not a matter of dropping a file on the channel.
    Every setting needs to be taken care of in order to be as searchable as possible. Here are the most important bits to take care of:
    • -Increase the video length limit.
    You can do that HERE.
    • Take care of the in-video calls to action.
    Have you added your logo with your website at the beginning and end of your video?
    • Rename your video file.
    Pick the title you want to see when it goes live. You’ll be able to do this later as well, but I’ve seen a lot of users forget to edit it. The sooner you start, the better. In terms of picking the best title, again research and benchmark against your competition/related subject area.
    • Description, tags, visibility.
    In essence you need to go through the same exercise of setting up your channel. Make sure you add a link of your website in the description of the video towards the beginning as Youtube displays only the first few words as default.
    • Learn to use annotations.
    This is possibly the most ignored tool when it gets to Youtube marketing. There is actually a lot of potential if you use it properly. Here is a GREAT GUIDE.
    • Know how YouTube SEO works.
    This is the most concise and still relevant GUIDE.
    • Review your analytics.
    Youtube recently refurbished its ANALYTICS. Review the performance of each video to make sure you are achieving your targets.

    Advanced

    Once you become proficient with all of the above, I want you to focus on the objective of becoming a Youtube Partner. Why? Because you can then enjoy the beauty of YOUTUBE LIVE as well as more customisation options such as a clickable header on your channel.
    Qualifying to become a partner is not easy to achieve. Here are the REQUIREMENTS.

    I would suggest to start exposing your best videos to larger audiences with YOUTUBE ADVERTISING as it may help in speeding up the process although there is no official line on the latter.

    In Conclusion

    The benefits of YouTube for event marketing range from search engine visibility to live streaming of your gigs. With 800,000,000 monthly visitors you cannot ignore the opportunities available for your event. This guide will help you to start using it wisely. 

    This article was written by one of my favorite bloggers, Julius Solaris. You can link to this article by clicking here to take full advantages of the tips and tools that he has embedded within his blog. You can also send your questions, or write into Julius here.
  • 11 May 2012 2:51 PM | Deleted user
    An experiment conducted by behavioral scientists, discovered that problem solving procedures were inhibiting creative thought. The traditional method begins with a detailed assessment of the current situation and clarification of specific problems. Researchers assessed the enthusiasm and effectiveness of problem solving groups by measuring room sound in decibels and counting the number of negative/positive adjectives used during discussions. They also rated the merit of proposed solutions. This experiment proved that when imagination is applied before rational thinking begins (by creating a vision of the preferred future) better decisions are made and participants become committed.  

    Activity #1 Imagine success:  Before trying to solve a problem, imagine and discuss what it would look like once your problem has been resolved. Talk as though success has already happened. What is different now? How are you feeling about the accomplishment? 

    During the second world war, an eminent social scientist Kert Lewin, was asked to help overcome the reluctance that soldiers had about eating powdered eggs. Lewin created a simple yet effective problem solving process called force field analysis. This useful tool identifies “what is” by recording contributors (forces that help move towards a goal) and resistors (forces working against movement towards a goal). He determined that the status quo exists because contributing and resisting forces are in balance. Add a contributor or remove a resistor and the current situation (status quo) will change.

    Activity #2 Document what is:  Record a summary of your imagined “preferred future.” Under your summary, draw a vertical line down the center of the page. Title this line “status quo”. Title the left half of the page “contributors.” Underline this heading with an arrow pointing towards the status quo. Title the right half “resistors” and underline with an arrow pointing towards the status quo. List forces that will help you move towards your goal in the contributor column and list what could hold you back under resistors. What emerges is a clear picture of your ideal, the current reality, and what needs to be done to close the gap. 
    Those of us who have tried to survive a rigid diet, have experienced the shoot yourself in the foot syndrome. It happens because we try to control behavior with contributors (i.e. rules, punishment, or incentives). The rebellious child residing in all of us, resents being “should on” and will eventually lash out. Lewin’s break through was in discovering that people can move towards a goal without risking an unpredictable backlash. The key success factor is to remove roadblocks or minimize their impactundefinedrather than add contributors. When rules, rewards, or punishments are overdone, the rebellious child will resist and even sabotage their honorable intentions. 

    Activity #3 Eliminate the impact of resistors:  To begin moving towards your goal, rank order resistors in terms of their negative impact.  Eliminate the easy ones first, then develop an action plan for the rest. 

    And yes, Lewin resolved the Army’s powdered egg issue. He determined that the problem wasn’t taste or texture… the primary resistor was the soldiers’ thought of having to eat “processed” eggs. Lewin’s surprisingly effective solution was to have the manufacturer throw a few egg shells into the mix.


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