By Brad Foster

Like everyone working in the business event sector, managing director of The Association Specialists, Francis Child, has had a torrid time of it over the past two months.

He and his team have, however, been fortunate that alongside their event business they manage the secretariats of a large number of Australian associations.

He says while JobKeeper has been a life-saver for many, he is concerned it has only pushed the problem six months down the road.

“If opportunities for events of more than 100 have not opened up by July or August with some certainty there will be a lot of problems for organisers in the six months between October 2020 and March 2021 when cash-flow will dry up again,” Child says.

Child believes the time is now looming for associations to action critical measures to retain members.

“I think the key is whether they are able to maintain a reasonable level of service to justify membership fees and whether they have enough in reserves to see them through a 12 month period when event income and sponsorship revenue will be considerably down.

“The next two to three months will be critical for many associations as they go through their annual membership renewal period. They will need to sell a strong message to their members that there is value in renewing. Generally, I think members will want to renew and support the organisation but they will still be questioning the value proposition, particularly if they are struggling themselves.”

Child sees this industry specific to some extent.

“Some associations in sectors such as hospitality will clearly be hit hard. Associations will survive if they plan, add value and engage.”

Child and his team have been writing “thought papers” on relevant subjects designed to assist associations through this difficult period.