At Bostrom, we redefine the essence of association management by merging the seasoned insights garnered from our longstanding history with the dynamic energy of a startup. Our diverse and specialized staff, constantly evolving through collaboration and continuous learning, are at the heart of our operations, serving a wide array of clients with unique needs and bespoke services. This melting pot of experience, innovation, and dedicated service creates a vibrant culture that resonates deeply within our team and extends to the associations we serve. As we step into 2024, we’re excited to share the trends we’ve identified, each a reflection of our commitment to excellence and our passion for fostering a culture that enhances and elevates the association industry.
Marketing and Communications
Content Diversification: In 2023, associations began to increasingly embrace a diverse content strategy, incorporating podcasts and interactive webinars to provide engaging and informative experiences. Influencer marketing and platforms like TikTok and Instagram are becoming essential tools to reach a broader and younger audience. This approach ensures a dynamic mix of traditional and innovative formats, keeping content fresh and appealing. By diversifying their content, associations can engage members more effectively and stay ahead in the digital landscape.
AI Integration: Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, and with generative AI being the primary focus, it was only a matter of time before association marketing would be inundated with opportunities to utilize AI. At Bostrom, under the guidance of our Artificial Intelligence Council, the marketing department has been exploring the use of AI for content creation assistance, marketing strategy refinement, and automating communication workflows that allow the real marketing specialists to allocate their time to more valuable strategic association brand campaign research and development.
Education and Certification
Microlearning: The microlearning trend reflects the current era’s preference for quick, accessible information. Associations are responding to this by offering short, focused content modules tailored to their members’ continuous learning needs and busy schedules. These bite-sized learning opportunities enable members to stay updated with industry-specific developments and emerging trends without overwhelming time commitments, making education efficient and convenient.
Digital Badges and Certifications: The significant increase in the popularity of digital and online certifications over the past few years has been notable, especially as platforms like LinkedIn Learning and SkillShare offer instant accreditation for completing multi-class courses. Associations recognize this trend as an opportunity to engage existing and potential members with specialized classes that elevate their careers and industry involvement. By providing these credentials, associations affirm their role as vital contributors to professional development and continuous learning.
Technology and Data Management
Cloud-Based Solutions: Cloud-based solutions are revolutionizing how associations operate, offering scalable and efficient data management through the Internet. This shift eliminates the need for extensive physical IT infrastructure, fostering remote collaboration and access to critical information from anywhere. Cloud platforms often include advanced analytics and AI capabilities, enabling associations to gain insights into member behaviors and operational efficiencies. Embracing cloud computing aligns with strategic goals of agility, cost-effectiveness, and improved service delivery in today’s digital environment.
Cybersecurity Focus: With digitalization at its core, associations are intensifying their focus on cybersecurity. It’s crucial to protect sensitive data and maintain member trust. Cybersecurity involves technological solutions like encryption and multi-factor authentication, regular risk assessments, and employee training on security protocols. A robust cybersecurity strategy is vital for safeguarding an association’s data integrity and reinforcing its credibility in an era marked by frequent cyber threats.
Event Planning and Management
Sustainability Practices: Embracing eco-friendly practices in event planning has become a cornerstone of modern event management, aligning with global trends towards environmental responsibility. The increasing use of event-based mobile apps exemplifies this shift, providing attendees, sponsors, and visitors with essential information in a digital format, significantly reducing the reliance on paper. Additionally, choosing event locations in proximity to entertainment and transportation hubs enriches the attendee experience and minimizes the need for individual vehicle travel. This approach to sustainability demonstrates environmental consciousness and responsibly enhances the overall event experience.
Interactive and Immersive Experiences: The focus on creating interactive and immersive conference experiences transforms how attendees engage and participate. Incorporating interactive workshops, real-time simulation technologies, large-scale charitable activities, and gamification of conference tasks adds a dynamic and memorable layer to the event. These innovative strategies make conferences more engaging and play a crucial role in boosting membership participation and ensuring repeat attendance. By prioritizing engaging and unique experiences, event planners can significantly elevate the value and appeal of their conferences, fostering a strong sense of community and involvement among attendees.
Automated Financial Processes: Technology and finance have seemingly become entwined over the past few decades, and automating financial operations for improved efficiency and accuracy is one of the most effective ways associations have been able to significantly reduce labor and errors and allow them to allocate more resources to strategic decision making and growth initiatives. Automated invoicing, billing, expense management, and payroll processing are essential components of a technological, financial system. Even higher-level budgeting and forecasting software that can report in real-time, as well as tax compliance, fraud detection, and bank reconciliations, have become more involved in managing association finances.
Diversified Revenue Streams: Bostrom has seen a spike in our association clients exploring new revenue avenues like partnerships and online resources to strengthen their financial resilience this year. We’ve mainly seen examples of this among our association clients who have developed membership tiers, scheduled more paid-access webinars and conferences, acquired corporate partnerships and sponsors for aspects such as their website or newsletters, and even merchandising their brand by selling apparel, books, and industry-specific tools.
Digital Engagement Platforms: Using digital engagement platforms has significantly transformed volunteer management, making it more efficient and effective. Platforms like VolunteerMatch streamline the matching of volunteers to appropriate opportunities while providing robust tracking capabilities for their contributions. Tools like Monday.com, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace offer versatile solutions for project management and communication. These platforms facilitate organized task management, efficient scheduling, and seamless communication, enhancing organizations’ volunteer experience and operational efficiency.
Skill-Based Volunteering: The practice of aligning volunteer activities with their professional skills has redefined the volunteering experience. This strategy not only taps into the unique talents of volunteers but also amplifies the value and effectiveness of their contributions to the organization. By matching volunteers to roles that harness their specialized skills, associations are empowered to embark on more complex and impactful projects, resulting in a more engaging and rewarding experience for volunteers and a higher level of achievement for the organization. This approach deepens the connection between volunteers and the associations, creating mutual benefits and enhancing community service outcomes.
Bostrom stands at the vanguard of association management, boldly setting the pace in a constantly evolving arena. We’re not just in the game; we’re changing it, equipping our clients with the foresight and agility they need not just to meet but exceed their goals. Our approach is assertive and forward-thinking, ensuring that thriving isn’t an aspiration but a reality for all our partners.