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Best Practices to Host an Open House for Your Association

Showcasing your association and all it has to offer is an important concept to plan and organize.  You can develop virtual, hybrid, or in-person open houses.  An open house for your association is a great way to educate prospective and current members about your organization’s strategic goals. One of the best opportunities that an open house can provide for your association is to help recruit and build your membership.

Let’s explore how you can plan your next association open house!

Know Your Market

When planning your event, the first thing you will want to decide is if it should be virtual, hybrid or in-person. As an association professional, you are the best person to decide since you know your market best. There are many great software options that you can review to help your organization take that virtual or hybrid event to the next level. When deciding the best option, do a market analysis. Think about the location of attendees, the timeframe for the event, and check conference schedules and industry events before picking the perfect date. Understanding  the future of your association is the best tool you have to help grow and evolve with new ideas.

Registration Time!

Now that you have the plan in place for how and when you’re going to host your event, the next important step is the registration process. Having the right technology in place is key to making sure the registration process is simple and streamlined.  If your registration and technology is not clear and easy for attendees, some may not continue through the registration process and give up in frustration. There are many options for association management software that can help if your association is looking at a software upgrade. When you are setting up your registration questions, make sure to ask questions that will help with your membership prospecting efforts.  Don’t make the questions too lengthy but include just enough information to help you understand your membership persona.

Member Experience

Speakers and Content

The next step in the planning process for this event is your speakers and content.  Now that you have the registrations, let’s showcase what your association offers so members and potential members can learn how to utilize your organization.  Make sure to welcome your current members to attend as it’s a great way from them to utilize their benefits and promote engagement. At the event, make sure to have a table where current members can go to easily sign up for volunteer options and committees.

Schedule your association’s president and CEO speak at the event or do a Q/A session for the attendees.  This is a great opportunity for them to share what is new with the organization and future goals.  You can also offer a few educational breakout sessions that will provide insight and understanding of your industry and those you serve.

For a prospective member, this event will help them understand all that the association can provide to them if they join. You can create an area where members can join directly onsite.  They may walk in as a prospect and leave a member. Make sure you highlight your programing, career center, and if your association helps provide industry credentials.  Going over your association’s career center is a huge asset for members so they can grow and excel in their career.

Career advancement

Sponsorship Options

Your association sponsors are very important to your organization so this is one of the best ways to provide them an outstanding spotlight.  You can set up booths for the sponsors to exhibit during this event.  This idea can work no matter if you choose in-person or virtual.  It’s a wonderful way for members and potential members to connect with vendors in a relaxed setting that can help them excel in their everyday roles.

Thank you

This sounds so easy, right?  Many forget this ever-important step and best practice.  Thank all those that attended your event.  Send them a survey so you can get an understanding of what went well and what you can improve on in the future.

It’s also so important to thank any registrants that were unable to attend.  Provide them with updates from the education sessions and send out a list of sponsors that attended.  Make those that could not come feel welcomed and remind them that they can join the organization anytime!

Remember that an open house is a membership benefit to help refresh their benefits and an excellent way to recruit new members to help your organization grow in the future.

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