Sunday, December 18, 2011

Have dinner, and then have breakfast, with your members.

In a previous post, I asked, "Why not spend a day - or two or three - in the life of your members? Imagine what you could learn by just observing!" This time I will ask, "Why not have dinner, followed by breakfast, with your members?"  Your response will probably be, "But that happens already." If so, consider the following twist used by the executives of the Hampton Hotel chain:
Six or seven times a year, Phil Cordell, Hilton's global head of focused service and Hampton brand management, selects guests in a key market to meet with him and his leadership team for dinner. The next morning, after their stay at Hampton, he meets with them to get a critique. Among other things, some wondered why hotel soap is square and pointy, unlike what they use at home. Hampton changed its soap, as well as addressing dozens of other suggestions to improve a brand that -- with free in-room Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, a money-back guarantee and super-friendly service -- already had many satisfied customers.
You will note they meet with the guests before and after. This approach, as opposed to simply having dinner or doing a focus group, yields unexpected insights.

Let's apply it the association setting by asking: What if, on the eve of your annual meeting, staff were assigned to have dinner with members who were attending (as well as exhibitors). On the last day, they get together for breakfast for a critique of the convention. Think you might learn something? Just asking!

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