Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association :: View topic - What do YOU want from your Association?

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C.Jerman
Executive Committee
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Joined: Mar 11, 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 5:37 pm Reply with quote Back to top
At today's Member's meeting, we spoke to the audience about the current low numbers of bookings for the forthcoming annual conference. We generally do have a few heart stopping moments prior to each event but seem to come good at the last moment with late bookings. This actually places a great strain on the committee, especially those on the conference sub group. This year is no different and at the meeting we polled those there to find out how many had not yet booked but fully intended to. The number was very low and if extrapolated across the full membership would be unlikely to yield sufficient attendance to make the event viable.

We would welcome a discussion with all of the membership as to why this seems to happen. Remember that one year numbers were so low that as a committee we took the unprecedented step of cancelling. Clearly this does cause considerable disruption to speakers and supporters and not least the staff at Tapton Hall.

At present, the numbers attending the bi monthly meetings are just about sufficient for sustainability. But for the annual conference they are not. We run this event for YOU so you need to tell us if you actually want it.

We have to put forward the following two theories about the conference.

A. People canít come
B. People donít want to come.

Now we canít do a great deal about the former, but the format has been such for so many years and resulted largely in success that weíd be reluctant but not unwilling to change it. If people canít come for personal reasons, time, freedom etc we can only sympathise.

If people donít want to come then itís a very different matter. We need to understand why that would be. We do have a core of die-hard attendees, who come to every bi monthly meeting, rain or shine. We also have regular attendees, who come frequently but not each time. And of course we have those who we rarely see. We really want to reach out to the sleeping members and engage with them and pull them into the meetings and subsequently the annual conference.

So hereís the debate.

If you come regularly (meetings and conference), what would make you stop coming?

And if you donít come, what would make you attend?

We consider these to be the main factors that are probably involved in both arguments

Cost
Subject matter
Time
Methods / ease of payment
Format

Please express your views openly.

The Executive Committee
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M.Wait
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Location: South Yorkshire
PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:14 am Reply with quote Back to top
As an active member of the conference subcommittee for a number of years now, I can only share Chrisís comments and concerns. It was with deep regret that we had to postpone, however in light of the number of delegates it seemed the only and best solution for everyone. In view of the calibre of speakers it only seemed fair, you donít want professional speakers talking to a near empty room and that was one of the core reasons for postponing not monetary value. Itís the value that our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors receive what value do they get from an almost empty room. Fortunately because we reacted so promptly we managed to stave off hotel bookings for certain speakers and also before Tapton allocate resources on our behalf.
The conference is our way of boosting our annual revenue in order to retain such a low annual membership fee. Which is why we need feedback on how do we make these changes to benefit the members. We as a committee know what we want, but the association is not running for us itís running for the members and itís important that we know your views and what you want from your association. The role of the committee is to ensure these requirements are where ever possible met. Please let us know what you want. If you donít feel you can comment on the forum send us a PM and we will add it anonymously. Even you guests who have recently viewed ( and on my post we are at 102 views) please send us a PM and we will also take on board your comments.

Many thanks
Mark
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P.Taylor
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:21 pm Reply with quote Back to top
After talking to some of the delegates at last tuesdays meeting I got a comment that although everyone agreed that the cost is very reasonable, simply asking for money was going to be difficult. Is this perhaps a particularly stringent year for budgets?

I also had a comment that this was a busy time of the year. Perhaps moving it to March will make it more convenient for our members.

What do others think??
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T.Hedland
Executive Committee
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Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 35
Location: South Yorkshire
PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:41 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Disappointing that the conference is to be postponed this year, feed back from members is essential if we are going to make it attractive to members. The question asked about what stops people coming is vital, I guess it's due to pressure of work, insecurity at work or imagined financial restraints. I say imagined because our conference is probably one of the cheapest best value for money conferences out there.
Moving it to the March AGM is probably a good idea as the October date does coincide with other conferences taking place across the country.

Please take this opportunity to have your say, the committee puts a lot of voluntary effort into organizing this major event we want it to provide you with meaningful content and be well attended.
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C.Jerman
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:18 am Reply with quote Back to top
Moving the date may well be a good idea. It would mean increased potential attendance for the AGM and one day less that people have to be away from work. Tho be fair, after nearly 100 years, the AGM should be a very short affair. There can't be that much to debate and if we were slick about it, we could still run almost a full conference programme.

Mark is absolutely correct in saying that we don't want to drag speakers in to talk to half a dozen souls. It's acutely embarrassing if nothing else. Additionally, the exhibitors and sponsors who attend only get a very short exposure and we know that the return on their investment is very low but we rely on their support to make it all worth while. If they don't feel it's worth coming then we really will miss them
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C.Wane
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:04 am Reply with quote Back to top
From my perspective I can offer the following:
Given enough notice time/date wouldn't prevent me from attending as I manage my own diary.
Content doesn't have a bearing on my attendance as if it's relevant to my job it's great to learn more and seek other opinions of how I work. If it's a subject I don't work with I welcome the opportunity to learn about a new field of HS&E.
Finance is a consideration for me. The Company pay for membership for IOSH and IEMA and I fund my own membership for FPA and SOHSA. I would put a limit on my attending at £100 and find the annual fee of £30 as most generous for a local Safety Group given the scale of fees set by others. I hadn't booked for this year as yet and had it on the to-do list.
I'm in my first year of membership and think the committee are doing a good job for the members so thank you for your continuing hard work.  
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L.Slater
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 10:43 am Reply with quote Back to top
I would prefer the meeting date to be moved as unfortunately I can't attend the October date. I actually only work Wed - Friday so attend the meetings on my days off (sometimes I get the time back. I will definitely be able to attend if it's moved to the March date  
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C.Jerman
Executive Committee
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Joined: Mar 11, 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:16 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Thanks for your input so far folks. It's the old maxim I guess that you can't please all of the people all of the time. But we're not going to aim for pleasing all the people all of the time as it's unrealistic. I's the majority that we are aiming to pull in and hope that others who are more on the fringe can dip in and out as they feel like it. There aren't really many variables that we can play with really so it could just be a case of fine tuning. But with so few replies so far it's hard to know which bits to tune.

Congrats to you two by the way. First posts of many I hope.
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C.Wane
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:19 am Reply with quote Back to top
"But with so few replies so far it's hard to know which bits to tune."
I am surprised at how few posts we have received thus far. It is so hard to engage people these days. It is a great skill if you can do it. At my work it is compulsory to respond to Employee Opinion Surveys and the like. Although replies are anonymous each department can monitor number issued versus number returned and we do have very high participation rates. People have a right to remain silent but I don't find it healthy for organisations or members. How can you manage what you can't measure.
Wishing everyone a good weekend.
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M.Nixon
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:55 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Thanks for the request to respond as an exhibitor and Honorary group member.
Obviously disappointed that the Conference was postponed as the last two years have been very enjoyable despite a decline in numbers.
With my other hat on as Chairman/Exhibitions Officer for NWRA we have just held our 57th Annual Conference. Although we started planning it last year due to a number of hiccups it was not advertised until the beginning of August some 6 weeks prior to the event.
In that period we managed to get 11 paying exhibitors (~£3000) and 45 delegates (~£3450). This was considerably down on last year but about break even. Getting the event listed in the HSE diary, RoSPA Safety Express, OSH and other publications some in advance certainly helped and delegates even came from York, Newark, Cambridge and Egham in Surrey all the way to Preston.
We realise that many folks cannot commit coming until close to the event and were considering pulling the plug but persevered.
This year your event is the week after Health & Safety North in Bolton whereas it has always been the day before. I have certainly noticed a lot of competition in recent years particularly commercial like Bolton or the SHE Show in Blackpool. Moving to another month is probably a good idea but watch out for other conferences & exhibitions. Health & Wellbeing at the NEC early March, Health & Safety Event at NEC for 3 days later in March plus Safety Expo/IOSH Conference in mid June might have a negative effect. Not sure if Glasgow in April will be detrimental other than for some exhibitors.

I trust these comments will assist in your committee decisions going forward. Happy to meet up at any time if this helps. Still have hotel booked (cannot cancel) in Sheffield for 13th Oct which might be used for a short holiday should this be a convenient time to meet

Best of luck

Mike (and Cathy) SGUK/MOHSG/NWRA/IOSH)  
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R.Edwards
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:22 pm Reply with quote Back to top
First of all sorry for delay in responding.
Disappointed the conference had to be cancelled. Having attended last year I found it very useful.
I am fortunate that I am supported both financially and with time to attend the SOHSA events so there were no issue as far as I am concerned.
Good idea to combine the conference and the AGM as this may encourage more people to attend. I look forward to the event.  
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M.Wait
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:24 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Following on from Mike's comments. I did a little spade work with the amount of conferences and shows for the last two years. I might not have got them all but it highlights how many there actually are


2013
IOSH Conf 26/02/13 London
SHE South 23/04/13 Milton Keynes
H&S Expo 14 Ė 16/05/13 NEC
SHE North West 25/06/13 Blackpool
H&S Event 9+10/10/13 Bolton
IIRSM Conf 14/11/13 London
SHE North East 26/11/13 Newcastle

2014
H&S Event 11 Ė 13 /3/14 NEC
SHE South 13/05/14 Milton Keynes
H&S Expo 17 Ė 19/6/14 London
IOSH Conf 17 Ė 18/6/14 London
SHE North West 23/09/14 Blackpool
H&S Event October Bolton
SHE North East November Newcastle
IIRSM November London

Regards

Mark
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C.Jerman
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:25 am Reply with quote Back to top
Mike many thanks for responding. Indeed they are useful thoughts.

Yes there are a lot of events and I could add a couple more too. Most associations of course have a conference too. The reason I don't go to an event is simply because I look at the agenda / content and it doesn't interest me. That's the primary decider. If it looks good then I'll make the effort, meet the cost etc. I get invites for freebies that I don't take up just because the programme doesn't float my boat.

We have to find a real point of difference AND get it under peoples' noses. And that's not always easy. There is a great deal of the content in those dates above that is just same old same old, stuck on repeat. The only reason they they get the attendance in my view is that it's a national pond rather than a local one.

If we got 30% of our members attending plus sponsors exhibitors etc it'd be a success.

Maybe we could do a joint conference with another group. Now there is an award submission!
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