Tuesday Buzz: The Problems With Hidden Fees

An association consultant breaks down the reason people hate hidden fees so much and why your organization should avoid them. Also: When you have to break bad news to your members.

If you’ve bought a house recently, you might have felt a little sticker shock from all the other stuff that came with that big purchase.

And in case you’re wondering, there’s a lesson there for associations to follow. The Wall Street Journal recently noted that an increase in local regulations has resulted in a rise in home prices, by as much as 30 percent over the past five years, due to the additional costs such regulations incur.

The costs are often needed to build out infrastructure, officials argue in the piece.

“Somebody has to pay for new growth—the new roads, the new sewer lines, the new infrastructure required,” Manatee County, Florida, Administrator Ed Hunzeker told the newspaper.

Steve Drake of SCD Group ponders whether there’s a lesson for associations in this.

“Perhaps associations should ‘steal the idea’ from governmental agencies,” Drake suggests, somewhat facetiously, in a blog post. “Just think of it, you could add a ‘processing fee’ to your member dues; or a ‘concession charge’ to the conference registration fee.”

This snarking hides his real point, which is that members see through this kind of nickel-and-diming. As a result, it’s bad form that could bruise your organization’s reputation.

If you need to raise prices, transparency might be the way to go.

The Great Messaging Challenge

Tough message to share? Have to let a group of members down easy, in a way similar to that of this famous scene from Dumb & Dumber? Figure out a way to convey it, carefully, because as the scene also shows, that messaging can quickly go south.

Abby Wright-Parkes, principal at U.K. firm Optimist Consulting, offers some important considerations for soft-pedaling the bad news.

One smart suggestion she has? It’s important to tie big changes to existing member feedback.

“This is incredibly important. Not only does linking the proposed change back to member feedback provide a strong, supportive case for the change you are communicating, it also shows your members that you value their opinions and listen to them, which is can help engagement,” she explains on her website.

Check out her blog post for more details.

Other Links of Note

Looking into making your event more Pinterest-friendly? The Event Manager Blog has a solid guide to get you going.

Why aren’t people participating in your association’s online community? It doesn’t hurt to ask, as well as to contextualize the answers, FeverBee’s Richard Millington says.

You may have heard about the deal by Verizon on Monday to buy out Yahoo’s core businesses. Wondering why Verizon would want it? This Wired piece breaks down the strategy behind the decision, which brings together two former internet giants—Yahoo and AOL—under the same corporate umbrella.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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