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Event ‘Shatterpoints’ Point to the Need for Change

Associations can strengthen their conferences and protect the revenue they generate by anticipating the “shatterpoints” that could eat into audience loyalty and send the event into a tailspin, consultant Jeff Hurt told participants at the 2014 Engaging Associations Summit.

“One change in one shatterpoint can have a domino effect, with drastic consequences,” said Hurt, Executive Vice President of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting in Dallas, Texas. Acknowledging the Star Wars movie series as the source of the term, Hurt said organizations’ conference revenues could be vulnerable if they don’t achieve at least:
  • 50% paid attendance at two out of three annual events
  • A 65% renewal or “stickiness” rate among exhibitors
  • A 75 to 80% stickiness rate among sponsors.
Looking to the Future

Hurt said a goal can be a lagging indicator, to the extent that strategies are built to address problems an association has already experienced. By contrast, a shatterpoint can be a leading indicator, pointing to future risks that the organization can mitigate or prevent.

After inviting Summit participants to discuss their own measures of a healthy, sustainable conference, Hurt suggested a series of longer-term shatterpoints, including:
  • Secondary revenue stream that represents less than 30% of the total
  • Only 35% of conference participants under age 50
  • Less than 55% of direct expense devoted to the participant experience.
One Piece of a Larger Puzzle

Hurt stressed that conferences are just one part of a larger patchwork of association services and initiatives, and should be seen as part of a continuum of customer and audience touchpoints. The key audiences onsite fall into three categories—economic buyers, decision-makers, and influencers—and more than ever before, organizations can use smart data to define and target the groups they need to reach and bring together.

Although shatterpoints can point to serious risks for associations that don’t pay attention to them, a Summit participant said the impact can be positive if they “blow things up” and draw attention to the potential for change.

Click here for highlights of the 2014 Engaging Associations Summit and a sneak preview of the 2015 event.