A Concierge Approach to Enhancing the Member Experience

Thinking of ways to step up your membership recruitment and retention plan? One association took an approach based on a staple of luxury hotels to customize the member experience and show value for group memberships.

The American Health Law Association’s membership was stagnating. A 2018 member survey revealed that only two out of five members would pay for their membership if their organization did not. And large organizations with group memberships would sometimes abruptly drop 50 to 100 staff members and AHLA had no idea why.

“There was no rhyme or reason,” said AHLA’s Stefan Bradham, CAE, senior director of marketing and communications. “We were always trying to play catch-up.”

He knew it was time to devise a strategy to boost recruitment and retention, so he created a concierge membership program, which will launch the end of this year, to provide tailored support and service modeled on hotel concierges, who are guests’ go-to for whatever they need to acclimate themselves during their hotel stay. AHLA’s member concierge, a one-year contract position, will be the point of contact helping members maximize their benefits and demonstrate to organizations the return on their investment.

Demonstrating Value

Organizations front the bill for many individual AHLA memberships—and some purchase group memberships for a number of employees—so it’s important to show how the employer benefits, Bradham said. “We don’t have organizational members, but we have to act like we do,” he said, to prevent organizations from reducing the number of individual memberships they’ll fund.

Organizations with 25 AHLA members or more are eligible for the concierge program. The member concierge will compile periodic member usage reports to show members what benefits they’ve used and encourage them to take advantage of others and stay engaged.

The membership team is also zeroing in on who makes the decision at organizations to stop paying AHLA membership dues for employees. Often the marketing or professional development person maintains the organization’s budget for memberships, Bradham said, but because that person doesn’t have any regular interaction with AHLA, they don’t have a good grasp on the value the association provides for employees.

Building Relationships

To address that issue, the member concierge will have periodic check-ins with those decision makers throughout the year and, with the help of the information on the member usage reports, iron out any questions or concerns to make sure the organization’s employees are getting the most out of AHLA benefits.

For example, if an organization has 25 premium members but they aren’t using their access to free webinars that comes with a premium package, the concierge might suggest shifting the member mid-cycle to a lower bracket, which will save the organization money and be a better fit for the member.

Members of AHLA’s membership committee will also reach out to organizations directly to ask how the membership is going. It’s an extra step at the board level to show AHLA’s commitment to a meaningful membership experience.

Now, when an organization is up for membership renewal, the member concierge will already know what’s coming and be prepared for it.

“This program is about building relationships,” Bradham said. “It’s about connecting throughout the year instead of having a renewal conversation once a year.”

(Pornpak Khunatorn/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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