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CEO to CEO: How Members React to Change

ASSOCIATIONS NOW, November 2012 Leadership

Summary: Association CEOs share their most recent big change and how it went over with their members.

What was the last significant change you made, and how was it received by members?

We are a national organization, but our annual conference had been held in Southern California for six years in a row. When I announced that we'd be moving the meeting, there were objections from the conference committee. In 2011 and 2012 we increased attendance by 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The rotation plan now moves the yearly event around the country. Our survey of members confirms we made the right decision, and we are seeing more robust bids to host the conference.

—Susan Weeks, CEO, Running USA, Colorado Springs, Colorado

This year we incorporated an afternoon of social events in the middle of our annual conference. A majority of attendees appreciated [the events], and they all liked that it was a part of the conference at no additional cost. Some, however, felt this type of activity would be better before or after the conference. There were enough negative comments that we will evaluate the placement of the social events, but at least for the coming year they will remain a part of the meeting.

—Carol L. Watkins, CAE, executive director, National Dental Electronic Data Interchange Council, Phoenix

In May 2012 we introduced a premium membership option as a way to reward our most active and engaged members. For a $20 annual fee in addition to regular dues, premium members receive discounts on products and event registrations, an exclusive "insider" newsletter, advance notice of research results, and concierge-level service from our staff. Members appreciate the program because it saves them time and money, which in turn increases member loyalty and satisfaction.

—Sal Martino, CAE, CEO, American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Albuquerque, New Mexico

We have struggled to get members to visit our tabletop exhibits during receptions at one of our small conventions.

Several years ago we went with the idea of giving each exhibitor a specialty Michigan-made craft beer or wine to sample at their table, along with a complimentary hors d'oeuvre. We changed to a cash bar for mixed drinks and eliminated the centrally located food station. The change was a hit with exhibitors, and members flocked to their tables.

—Donnelly Eurich, CAE, president and CEO, Eurich Management Services, LLC, Lansing, Michigan

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