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Lessons Learned from the American Society of Association Executives Annual Meeting

I spent the past two days attending the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting in Atlanta. ASAE is the trade association for people like me who manage trade groups (yes, there is an association for associations) and it’s a tremendous source of ideas and information about everything from effective political advocacy techniques to the latest in convention and meeting management tools. The meeting attracts nearly 5,000 association executives from every kind of group you could imagine, which makes it a great place to compare the Alliance’s performance to similar groups across the country. Here are a few of the most intriguing lessons I learned from this week’s event:

The PPACA is on everyone’s mind…

Trade association executives are doubly impacted by the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). They are both purchasers of health care insurance for their employees and representatives of their members’ best interest as consumers of health care coverage. Not surprisingly, there were several sessions on how the PPACA is going to impact trade groups and their members. I attended a blue ribbon panel of experts in the field and they all agreed on the following points:

  • Purchasers of group medical insurance will see rate increases of 15-50% in the next year, depending on the size and composition (percentage of young employees vs. percentage of older employees) of the group.
  • The majority of states are opting out of forming the health insurance exchanges that were supposed to drive competition and lower prices; this means the federal government will likely operate the only exchange for consumers in many states.
  • As a result of rising premiums many employers will “de-couple” the long-standing relationship between employment and group health coverage. Instead, employers will provide their employees with access to Health Saving Accounts or simply offer a stipend for them to purchase individual health care through either the state or federal exchange.
  • All of this will combine to result in a “single-payer” system with a “buy up” option in the U.S. within the next decade.
  • Want to learn more about how the PPACA will affect you and your society? Make sure to attend the Workshop entitled “Navigating the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: What Employers and Consumers Don’t Know Can Kill Them (Really!)” at the Alliance’s Annual Meeting next month. You’ll get the information you need to make the most informed choices about your employees’ and your family’s health care coverage from experts on this notoriously confusing law.

Healthy trade groups have a balanced mix of revenue sources…

I spoke with dozens of trade association CEOs about their organization’s sources of revenue. All agreed that dues should account for no more than 50% of an association’s total revenue. Typical sources of revenue include meeting registrations, royalties on insurance programs, sponsorships and trade shows, and certification programs. Today, member dues account for over 60% of the Alliance’s total revenue. That’s an improvement over the 80% figure of five years ago, but still a long way away from a healthy 50% ratio that most trade groups strive for. In the latest Alliance membership satisfaction survey, members identified several promising products and services that they would like the Alliance to develop. I’ll provide a look into how we are growing non-dues revenue and what’s on the drawing board for the future during my remarks at the Annual Meeting.

In the meantime, here’s a suggestion from the CEO of a member society for a new revenue stream that he is certain will prove popular with his colleagues: “Discounted therapy sessions for CEOs who have to deal with obstinate board members and local chapter leaders who refuse to consider any proposals that would be in the best interests of the members and the society but would undermine their own power.” Any takers?

The Twitter guy…

I’ll be the first to admit that I have not embraced social media to the extent that some of my peers from other trade groups have, especially when it comes to Twitter. I have a Twitter account (@FraternalsPres), but I rarely “tweet” for the simple reason that I’m not convinced anyone will care about my 140-character views. The guy sitting in front of me during one of the general sessions at the ASAE meeting did not have that problem. Seriously, he must have sent more than a dozen “tweets” during the 75 minute session. Every time the speaker (who I nicknamed “Captain Cliché” for his propensity to steal every overused business phrase and try to pass it off as his own) spouted some supposedly magical business formula, the Twitter guy would send a message to his “followers” – whoever they may be. I found it both annoying and amusing – but certainly more entertaining than the speaker. I understand the power of social media – major news stories are now broken on Twitter by average citizens – but this type of “tweet” seems so…trivial. Your thoughts?

Shark Week…

This has nothing to do with the ASAE meeting or the future of fraternals, I just think it’s one of the funniest ads I’ve ever seen…

One Response

  1. Love it … Captain Cliche. Why do the meeting Planners do that?

    More later,



    Sent from my iPhone Stan Hustad http://www.stanhustad.com 520 664 7002 (USA)

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