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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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5 Simple Work Perks to Retain Association Staff

Posted by Colleen Bottorff

Happy group of businesspeople stacking their hands in cooperation

We talk a lot about member retention - but what about association staff? Turnover is a burden on any workplace, and even more so on organizations whose resources are already limited. And while you can’t please everyone all the time, there are plenty of little things you can do to show employees that you value their time and effort.

Here are a few simple perks that could go a long way toward association staff loyalty:

Food & drink options

This is a pretty common office perk (one that you may already have), but there are definitely ways to kick it up a notch beyond the typical coffee and tea selection:

  • Stock the kitchen with some snacks and a variety of beverages (sodas, teas, juice, etc.)!
  • Think about your health-conscious coworkers and those with special diet needs: Are there other options they would appreciate having around?
  • Consider providing breakfast or lunch once a week, or for staff meetings.
  • Just ask! Survey your staff and see what kind of goodies they would enjoy having at the office.

Professional growth opportunities

You advocate professional growth for your members, so why not extend that to your staff as well? After all, their professional growth benefits you, too! Take a good look at your budget to see what you could reasonably allocate per person each year to attend a conference, earn a certification, join a webinar, subscribe to an industry publication, etc.

Alternatively, consider something your staff can enjoy as a whole such as bringing in a speaker for a lunch and learn or investing in some on-site software training with your AMS vendor!


Work-life balance is an enigma we’re all striving for, and you can help by offering employees flexibility with their hours and work environment. Doing so evokes a mutual trust among staff:  They can accomplish tasks at their own pace, while realizing that they must still adhere to deadlines in order to continue enjoying that flexibility. Some ideas for flexibility include:

  • Allowing employees to work remotely as needed.
  • Establishing “Half Day Fridays” during a quiet period.
  • Giving all employees some extra floating holidays to use at their own discretion.
  • Go all out! Allow staff to determine their own weekly schedule (within reason).

Celebrate often

Find time to celebrate wins arounds departments! These could be anything from breaking a new member record, to finally completing a year-long project. Talking wins allows individuals and teams to feel good about the work they did, while everyone else gains insight into what is making an impact in the organization. This could be something you add to your existing monthly staff meeting, or a whole different meeting. Either way, we think cake should be involved.


We talked about your employee’s mental wellbeing with growth opportunities and work-life balance flexibility, but physical wellbeing is just as important! Establish some kind of regular fitness activity, whether that’s bringing in an instructor or simply taking weekly lunch walks. Many communities even offer free classes on a regular basis - see what’s available near you and plan an outing! Your staff will thank you for the boost in energy (and a midday break, depending on what you choose to do).

The bottom line is, your employees’ happiness influences your organization’s performance, which in turn influences your members’ happiness and engagement. When you have your employee morale in a good place, membership management becomes that much easier. And that starts from the very first day of employment! Get your newest employees up to speed quickly with our free guide, Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff.

Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff  How to get your new staff members up to speed! Download this guide

Topics: association leadership, Small Staff Chatter

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