There are plenty of local and industry associations available for hospitality professionals to join. It may be your local chamber of commerce, your national tourism association or a career association. There is generallyÊan exciting networking opportunity and what they offer you in terms of face to face contact with neighbours, colleagues and often competitors will always allow you to connect on a personal level. But is their web presence letting them down?
We connect with our friends with Facebook, our work colleagues on LinkedIn, but how often do you log into your association’s websites?
OK, we know that the associations are staffed by one or two paid professionals, or a collection of passionate volunteers who have limited time. And we appreciate everything that they do, which is organise ways for us to connect with each other.
However, we are paying for this membership and associations these days need to match their face to face networking with a complete online presence, asÊa way for members to connect online, a place to promote our businesses, and publish articles and stories about the successes their members, and even our events, specials and promotions. Every mention of our news online brings us credibility, every opportunity to promote our events brings us more customers.
Associations strive to do this, and in the past, they have just not had the resources to do this effectively, but with the online opportunities available they now can and should be able to help you in cost effective way.
In our digital age, online connections and marketing opportunities for association members is getting easier. The ability to engage members, provide extra benefits for both at a low cost in time and effort, and win more members is at their fingertips and with our increasingly busy lifestyles, we also want more from them than just the face to face contact and want more bang for our membership buck!
OK, I am biased, and I am admitting it as I am a member ofÊthree associations which I get a e-newsletter from once a month. As a business owner andÊmother, I just cant get to the face to face networking meetings or golf days. But I want more from the associations I am a member of, and as a web developer.
An association website should include the following as a basic function:
áÊÊ Up to date relevant news and content
áÊÊ Members forums
áÊÊ Posting of member events (yours and your associations)
áÊÊ Marketing opportunities
áÊÊ Job opportunities
I want to get information from my community, I want to connect. So quite simply, aÊgreat association website should include some basic things which you can use as part of your professional and business networking and promotion. And these are so simple for them to provide given the right platform.
By Kate Thomas
Kate is the CEO of Tracker Group, providing a high level of marketing and branding services to a range of industry sectors including hospitality, food & beverage, small business and financial services. The eXceed global network, an initiative in partnership with eHotelier provides online destination presence and management solutions for tourism destinations, associations and hotel school alumni associations.