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[In-person meetings appear to be being pushed farther and farther out on the horizon. Complete information on ASAE’s Impact Research can be found here.]
For the average association without some qualifying circumstance, the proportion of overall revenue generated by meetings and education in associations will likely never return to its pre-COVID state. While I hope this isn't true, I suspect it is, and here's why.
In the years to come, in-person meetings and education will be hindered by several key limitations. In-person meetings will be more expensive to host due to necessary virus precautions. Attendance is likely to decline due to fear of inherent risk, restrictions on business travel, and, paradoxically, undesirable expectations on attendees (face coverings,etc.). I am not suggesting that in-person meetings won't still be an important business line for associations but rather a less prominent one. And, this problem is not solved by just shifting to virtual meetings.
Association virtual meetings and education as a significant business line are also under threat. The first threat is cost - taking content online in a meaningful way requires investments in staff training, software, and technology that associations with diminishing reserves may not be able to make. In the short term, association members have tolerated a somewhat awkward foray into virtual, but their patience will run thin. This will be hastened by contrast with the most significant disruptive threat...
With MSAE’s new organizational membership model, our membership has more than doubled to over 1,700 members. No longer are we an association just for the Chief Staff Executive…we’re here to serve the entire association staff. During the past year, we’ve created many new programs, webinars, peer-to-peer community of practice groups, and resources to address the needs of all staff levels.