Restaurants, movie theatres, casinos, bars and salons have much in common, but as the seriousness of COVID-19 and its deadly potential came to light, I could only think of one.
While COVID-19 has brought many changes, the industries who rely on public interaction have been hit the hardest and, with them, the associations that cater to their professionals. Without the ability to gather, to touch or travel, these associations have struggled with how to approach this situation. How is an association supposed to support its members when the entire industry is paused?
Just be there.
As leaders in their industries, associations are looked to for support when times are tough. We all want answers, and we all want guidance. Yet there are no foolproof steps on what to do when everything stops. Just being there for your members means the difference between navigating these waters or being stranded at sea.
- Stay accessible. Nothing says “we are here for you” more than having the ability to contact leadership
- Be transparent. It’s okay to be honest with members about being just as in the dark as them.
- Check on your members. What are their biggest concerns? And what services do you already have in place to attend to them? Then, what services do you need to create for them?
How do we ease their concerns?
I reached out to Erin Walter, the brand manager for the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), about its membership’s biggest concerns. She described the fear over financial strains expressed by her members, and how they want to safely go back to work. As we know all too well, fear is an emotion felt by many around the world, so I asked what steps PBA was taking to ease these fears.
- Create a webinar series to help understand financial resources.
- Break down federal and state guidelines to help your members understand the next steps.
- If you have the resources, create a fund to support your members while they have unreliable income.
- Release continuing education classes for your members to learn and grow while they are home.
- Have a “going back to work” section on your website with resources and information.
What do we do now?
The simple answer: whatever we can. Put yourself in your members’ shoes and think about how you would want leadership to treat you.
While still awaiting the board’s approval, Rainer Jenss, the president and founder of the Family Travel Association (FTA) said “we are trying to say to our members ‘we don’t want to lose you, pay us when you’re able.’”
Allowing existing members the chance to continue accessing FTA’s resources when many cannot justify these added expenses shows how dedicated Jenss and his team is to their members' comfort.
Take a page out of Walter and Jenss’ books, and do whatever is necessary for your membership to thrive.
May 7, 2020