New Year, New Ideas

A new year is the perfect time to try something new or push yourself outside your comfort zone. How can your association use the start of 2018 to shake things up or test things out?

Here at Associations Now there are a few telltale signs that it’s the start of the new year. The one that jumps out at me during the first few weeks of January is the increase in emails I get from ASAE members and other thought leaders who want to contribute articles.

A lot of them acknowledge that while they’re not trained writers, they’ve made it a goal to write for us in the coming year to share with their colleagues the ideas that have been successful for them.

And their timing makes sense: After all, a new year is the prime time to try something new or push yourself outside your comfort zone. So, how can you do it for your meetings and events?

Perhaps you should take a cue from Attendify. Earlier this week, the event technology company announced that it would publish its product roadmap.

“That’s right, anyone can now see what Attendify is planning and developing in the foreseeable future,” the company wrote in a blog post. “It’s more than a little nerve-racking to open up like this— we certainly had reservations.”

The roadmap is segmented into three categories:

Researching. This section contains the ideas the company is exploring. These projects are in their early stages, and Attendify estimates that only around 20 percent will go live.

Designing. These projects made it past the research phase and are compelling enough to start the design process. The company anticipates that about 60 percent of what makes it onto this list will eventually launch.

Developing. This is everything Attendify is committed to and actively developing right now. All of the products and features on this list will be launched in the near future.

Every item, regardless of what category it’s in, includes a feedback link that generates an email directly to the Attendify product team. The company is encouraging its customers, partners—and, yes, even competitors—to send input. And Attendify says it will update the roadmap about once a month and blog about any notable changes as well.

So, why is the company doing it? Among the reasons it names in the blog post: The roadmap will allow Attendify to have better conversations and keep better connected to customers, and it will keep the company committed to groundbreaking new products and meaningful enhancements, not just minor iterations.

“We want to do our part to open up, make bold bets, and share where we think event technology is heading,” said the post. “Without being transparent about our roadmap, it’s impossible to have meaningful conversations with the people who matter most …”

I will definitely have my eyes on this roadmap in the months ahead, and association meetings staff may want to consider doing the same. Not only may it be ripe with ideas that you could consider introducing or mimicking at your own organization or at one of your upcoming events, but Attendify’s product roadmap could be the basis of an “event roadmap” for an association.

Consider whether being more transparent and deliberate in soliciting feedback from members and attendees as you plan upcoming events could be beneficial. While it might be frustrating to see an idea that staff considers promising get negative feedback from members, that input could save you time, money, and effort in the long run.

What is your association going to do in 2018 in terms of meetings and events that pushes boundaries or even puts you and your staff outside your comfort zone? Please share in the comments.

(ThomasVogel/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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