The Effect of Meeting Location on Membership

By: Joe Rominiecki

The International Liver Transplantation Society shares how it lives with and tries to combat ups and downs in membership driven by a global rotation in conference sites.

The Annual Congress of the International Liver Transplantation Society tops out at about 1,600 attendees, but they originate from more than 50 countries. This makes the location of ILTS' premier event a pivotal decision for both meeting success and the organization's membership numbers.

Price of Admission

At associations that host an annual conference, the difference in median registration fees for members and nonmembers is $145, a member discount of about 24 percent.

$450 Median annual conference registration fee for members

$595 Median annual conference registration fee for nonmembers

Source: 2012 Meetings Marketing Benchmarking Report, Marketing General, Inc.

About 50 percent of ILTS members are in the United States, with the other half broadly dispersed around the world. To reach them all on a regular basis, Shannon Fagan, CMP, meeting and exhibits manager, says ILTS follows a three-year rotation for its Annual Congress: Europe one year, North America the next, and alternating between Asia and South America the third. ILTS members in specific cities work with local convention and visitors bureaus in submitting proposals to host the meeting.

"With that, we're able to engage members more and let them have a voice in determining where the meeting is going to be held," Fagan says.

ILTS aims to host the Annual Congress in a city with a strong membership base, particularly to drive referrals—members bringing along nonmember colleagues. This can be a boon for ILTS' member level in years with high attendance, but years with low attendance can lead to a corresponding drop in membership, as well. ILTS has seen membership as high as 1,700 and as low as 810.

Executive Director Diann Stern, CAE, says ILTS will continue to leverage its meetings to attract members, but it hopes to keep more of them onboard with its new knowledge bank, ILTSEducation.org. The members-only site offers curated abstracts, videos, clinical updates, and discussion forums, as well as archived video and audio from ILTS meetings.

"This is a big benefit of membership in addition to the meeting," says Stern. "A larger membership would enable us to share the latest advances in liver transplantation with a global network of medical professionals, which would ultimately improve patient outcomes."

Joe Rominiecki is a senior editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Where in the World?"]

Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki is senior editor at Associations Now.