Specialized conference applications for associations

Specialized conference applications for associations

The lifeblood of an association is its membership. Without his membership, the associations would cease to exist. One of the most important functions of an association is communication, both up and down the organizational structure. National headquarters should communicate with its state and local chapters and with its members, and members should communicate back with chapters and national headquarters. One of the best forms of communication is through conference calls, including audio, web, and video conferencing. Over the last decade, several special applications have been developed using conference services to achieve the goals of associations, improve the quality of communication with their members, generate new revenues and reduce costs. Here are six dedicated conference apps that associations can implement now.

Administrative meetings. Associations can use plain old audio conferencing to conduct administrative meetings up and down the association hierarchy. The national headquarters can conference call the state and local branches and all organizational levels can conference the membership. These conversations can be recorded and saved for later playback by conference participants who missed the conversation or by participants who simply want to replay the conversation for specific reference. One new feature with saved recordings is that a link to the recording can be sent to the moderator of each call in the post-conference report email. When the link is clicked, the audio automatically plays on a desktop or mobile device. The moderator can share the email with the link to everyone in the conversation so that everyone can listen to an instant replay of the meeting at any time. Conference service operators may also be used in these administrative conference calls to conduct question-and-answer and polling sessions.

Individual billing. Conference service providers typically send a monthly invoice for all conference calls to the moderator or accountant who pays the bills for the association. However, some of these conference calls, such as lobbying calls, may be composed of conference participants who are from other associations, which may pose a problem for the moderator who created the conference call. This moderator will receive one invoice for the call and will then have to either take the cost of the entire call or split the cost of each other participating association and collect it from each of them. This takes time and is a royal pain in the shorts. A new application for associations and other non-profit organizations is called individual billing. With this new application, the service provider can split the invoice based on the total minutes spent on the conference call by each organization. The service provider can then send the specific individual bills and collect them from each organization. This completely eliminates the need for association staff to waste their time in account separation, billing and collections.

Sub-conference. Subconferencing is an operator-assisted feature that allows the operator to divide the main call into subgroups that can be divided into separate conference calls. After the subgroups have finished their specific work, they can call the operator, who can then bring them all back into the main conference call. An example would be a national association that would start a large conference call with all participants from across the United States. When the conversation moderator is ready, the operator will be called and then the conversation will be divided into four subgroups, one subgroup for each part of the country. Once the subgroups have completed their regional activity, then the operator will rejoin the subgroups back into one large call. Subconferencing is a feature or application that must be scheduled in advance with your service provider so that an operator is available and knows how to handle the call.

Continuing education. Many professional associations have a requirement to provide continuing education in the profession they represent. In addition, many of these professionals are required to take so many continuing education courses each year to fulfill their continuing certification in the industries in which they work. Initially, these classes were held face-to-face, which required time and travel. Those ranked then began helping out via conference calls. With the development of conferencing technology, these classes have now moved to the Internet and use web and video conferencing. Typically, associations have to develop the curriculum content, do all the marketing and promotion, do all the registration, run the webinar, send the invoices, collect the money for the courses, and then send the certificates that confirm the completion of the course. One of the new conferencing applications developed by conferencing service providers allows the association to focus entirely on the course content and who will be teaching the class and allows the service provider to handle all registrations, marketing, sending additional materials, conducting the webinar with professional operators observing the class, collecting all monies and sending certificates for the course. At the end of the webinar, the service provider will provide a summary of the association’s billing along with a verification of the difference between the total revenue for the class minus the service provider’s expenses. Every webinar should be a revenue generator for the association.

Market research. Another application developed by service providers over the past decade is focus group interviews conducted via audio or video conference. In the past, focus groups were held in person and involved hiring a facility and travel expenses needed to get to and from the event, both for the moderators and possibly the research subjects. With the advent of conferencing technology, these focus groups can now be achieved using audio or video conferencing services, greatly reducing the cost of renting facilities and eliminating travel costs. These sessions can be recorded and recorded for future playback by the researchers.

Affinity programs. Affinity programs are designed to provide certain associations with an additional source of income. Many associations generate additional income by providing and selling products and services to their members. Some conferencing providers have established affinity programs that allow the service provider to sell conferencing services to association members. Basically, the association gives the service provider permission to sell its services to members and helps promote the services through association publications and communications to members. The service provider then develops the program materials, sells its services to members at a discount, and then remits a monthly fee to the association headquarters based on the revenue generated by the program. An affinity program can provide a significant influx of new revenue for an association, provided the membership is a suitable user of conference services.

Here they are, six apps that were developed for associations to help them achieve their goals, generate new revenue and reduce their costs.

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