When I was sworn in as Chairman of the Board of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce at last year’s Summer Garden Party, I announced that this would be “The Year of the Member”. It wasn’t just a good title for an Austin Powers movie, but a mantra for the idea that the time had come for the organization to rethink what membership means from the perspective of the member.
Over the last five years or so, the Chamber had implemented a number of changes. Through the hard work of its staff, the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and several past Chair Persons, the Chamber had reinvented itself, offering a variety of new benefits and services in a brand new facility. In the year prior to my chairmanship alone, the Chamber provided 122 events and programs, consisting world-class events like Beverly Hills Tomorrow and the Best of Beverly Hills Awards, as well as programs designed for specific industries, educational opportunities, government advocacy and numerous networking events. This year that number rose to 138.
But which programs were most useful to members? And did members even know about all of the programs and events available? My theory was that, for some, membership with the Chamber was like not knowing you have a Lamborghini in the garage. This theory was confirmed after I polled a significant number of members.
To address this issue and make sure that the members were obtaining full value for their memberships, we looked at every aspect of how the Chamber connects with its members. We examined how we do things both internally and externally and, as with anything else looked at with fresh eyes, we found room for improvement.
Internally, we restructured our Chamber staff, the Board of Directors and the Chamber’s Executive Committee to provide for greater accountability as well as more meaningful involvement. Externally, we revamped how the Chamber presents itself to the world. Our accomplishments include:
- A new tiered membership structure which will allow members to be able to see precisely what they obtain for their membership dollars, as well as what is available to them in other categories;
- A new system for emailing and messaging members which will provide members the information they need in a more efficient manner, with a consistent format and more streamlined content (less really is more!);
- A revamped social media presence designed to provide members the content and themes most needed and most desired;
- A new website which is more user friendly and which, like the Chamber’s email and social media, is designed to provide the members the information they need in an efficient manner, as well as offer members a platform for doing business; and
- A new Ambassador Program which includes greater follow-up and on-going support for our members.
Each of these changes will make it easier for members to stay informed and involved, and will further serve to enhance every membership experience. These changes are also designed to be full circle, meaning that each change will provide an avenue for the Chamber to receive more input from members, so that the Chamber can continue to evolve and provide the top-notch networking, educational and advocacy programs for which it has become so well known.
I am proud of what we accomplished and I believe the stage is set for even better things to come. However, none of this would have been possible without the support and tireless effort of the staff, the Board, the Executive Committee and the Ambassadors. Thank you. It has been an honor working with you.