When Jason Paganessi, VP of Business Innovation at the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) talks association technology, he speaks with the unguarded enthusiasm of a child talking toys. Yet his technology strategy is serious business.
Today, he and PCMA announced ACTIVE Network as their exclusive event management technology partner to power most of PCMA’s global events—from annual conferences such as Convening Leaders to worldwide chapter events.
“We sat back and said, ‘we really need to know more about our members’…And that’s the situation a lot of associations are in right now.” – Jason Paganessi
Without good technology, many associations have bad data. Data is often scattered across several systems or, even worse, buried in excel spreadsheets. So, associations rarely have a persistent view of a member’s behavior – or even that person’s most basic information.
That’s bad. It means that as associations around the world are struggling to keep up with the increased demands of their members and the increased pressures of outside sourcing of networking and education, they are woefully unprepared to up their game.
What PCMA is doing may be a way for associations to react quickly. See, the announcement today wasn’t about simply consolidating vendors or technology. Rather, it represents a step toward events that produce real member intelligence.
Instead of thinking of events as isolated moments in time, associations can use a strong technology platform to begin to collect intelligent data and insights to accelerate revenue growth, deepen attendee engagement and drive efficiency. And it may just save a lot of associations.
“We’re using the data to develop our products and services and figure out how to reach new markets,” Paganessi said. “It’s all about product development and meeting the needs of our members. The more we know the better experience we can give them.”
Here are three ways PCMA is creating event intelligence – and any association can do the same:
1. Attendee Journey Tracking: By allowing members to scan badges before each meeting and each session, PCMA is automating the way it tracks accreditations as well as improving on-the-fly room management. In addition, it tracks attendees’ behaviors to gain insight into the topics and speakers that are most valuable – which in turn helps PCMA build better content for its members.
2. Community as a Core: PCMA is utilizing both web-based and mobile applications to create a nexus point for community activity. By adding interactive elements to its website and mobile app, PCMA is encouraging attendees to discuss topics on Twitter, interact on Facebook and find and meet other attendees and sponsors digitally before they arrive at events. The result is a unique, digital layer to every live experience, something that PCMA feels will be essential for both better understanding its members and adding value to its events in the future.
3. A Seamless Experience: The biggest point of value, however, is creating a seamless experience for attendees and organizers around the organization’s two core systems — a membership database and an event management and registration solution. Meaning, when members log into any PCMA event, they can do so with their PCMA.org username and password. That means members don’t have to remember additional passwords or re-enter information from their profile. And PCMA gets total visibility into what members are doing across every event, big and small.