It’s not too soon to begin thinking about the impact that the sharing economy, the gig economy and the fractional ownership economy may have on a new generation of association members.
Your association membership model was developed before social networks brought people together in meaningful communities; before Sal Khan transformed education and learning; before Rent the Runway made high fashion available to the masses; before Airbnb turned our homes into shared travel accommodations; and before Uber turned over 1 million people (in almost 6 years) into self-employed business owners.
Business models are changing right before our very eyes, and the emerging professionals working in this new environment are having their views shaped in ways that are dramatically different than those of your traditional, loyal association members.
Add to the mix that the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that an average worker will have 11 jobs before the age of 48.
So what does it mean to you as an association executive that there are so many more 1099s than W2s emerging? It’s expected that 1099s will account for 40% of the American workforce in the next five years. Here’s what I think it means. It means associations should consider new membership models—models that are inspired by Amazon Prime. In exchange for a long list of great benefits, customers (members) pay an annual fee, a base amount that creates stickiness, and receive exceptional value and a reason to stay connected without the friction of most commercial relationships. From there, anytime we want something from Amazon, it’s our first choice when convenience, service and good value matter—that is, all the time.
For example, what if your association offered subscriptions for your events and conferences. A member company is allowed a specified number of participants to sign up for one or more of your live conferences, and the employee of your member company qualifies by “testing into” the right events using an online survey that matches the right people to the right events. The employee selects the right learning environment. The member company gets a better-trained, better-connected employee. And your organization creates a new model to optimize your events and educational offerings, and a more predictable financial forecast.
This is just one idea starter. Gig workers, sharing economy employees and new economic models are going to change how you deliver value, charge for it and stay relevant. If you haven’t assigned someone on your team to look at new membership models, new pricing structures and new event business models with an eye on the new forces shaping our economy and the mindset of today’s employees, now is a good time to start.