Building a Chapter Web Site: Part 1
As board members of the Greater Nashville Chapter of the HFTP, we find ourselves often wondering two things: How can we build our membership, and how can we engage our membership on a more regular basis? Fairly typical questions for most businesses, but considering the wealth of resources that HFTP and its members provide, responding to the challenge becomes a great opportunity for all of the individual HFTP chapters through their web sites.
Each individual chapter web site should be a source of information to current and future members, but all too often we find the obligations of our “regular” jobs to be so great that our sites slip into a static, sometimes outdated state. The goal is to have a dynamic, engaging site that creates compelling, ongoing reasons, to return.
In Nashville, we decided that our site had become exactly that — outdated. We went through the process of recreating our site, and our own vision, in an effort to serve both our current and future members. Over this and the next post, I will share the process that we are experiencing in launching our new site, which will debut on Friday, Oct 19. It was a RACE to get the site redesigned as we knew that with each passing day, opportunities were missed and impressions lost. In our RACE to update, we knew that we had to Review, Assemble, Create and Evaluate our new site.
In our case, a review was almost not necessary as the site contained information from 2009, incorrect Board members and events that were in excess of two years old. There was no doubt, it was time to make a change. But what about chapter web sites, that might not be in as great of distress? Some simple thoughts that you may consider:
When was the last time that your site content was updated?
Are your Board members correct? Is their individual information accurate? Are your events as up to date and current as possible?
One of the quickest ways to alter the appearance, and potentially the appeal of your web site is to refresh the header pictures in the banner. Each chapter has the ability to add three pictures to define your individuality as an HFTP site. The way to accomplish this is to simply send three pictures to Gary Borque at the HFTP Global office (firstname.lastname@example.org). Gary will then add the pictures to your banner. It is an easy process and you will also have the pleasure of interacting with Gary. Take a look at everything on your site and make sure that it reflects the goals and ideals of your chapter.
In this stage, our Nashville Chapter needed to assemble the people that were going to be responsible for updating the site and the ideas that we were going to implement. In addition to myself, we were fortunate enough to have one of our newest chapter members, Kay Hopwood, IT director of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce join us. Kay brings immeasurable talent and a perspective on a city-wide scale which is proving to be immensely valuable. Take a look into the rosters of your own chapters and perhaps you will be able to find a few individuals who will be able to take your site to new levels.
Next we needed to determine our ideas that we wanted to incorporate. First, there was the obvious — we needed to update our Board members, add the most current events and review each page for accuracy and completeness. Next we began to determine what we would want to have on the site. In doing this, we decided to not limit our expression or ideas. We let them freely flow with the most outrageous ideas welcomed and in some cases nurtured.
One of our conversations centered on getting our current members to the site. One thought was that we should take advantage of being in Music City and write a song! With the idea presented, we were able to refine it. We decided that we should collectively write a song where each member of our HFTP chapter would write one line. Once that line was posted, the next member could submit theirs. Clearly we found a way to engage our members on a different level! Our additional ideas also included displaying an event registration screen, a collective blog, a newsfeed, a featured members section and more! Now all we needed to do, was to create it!
Jim Wisniewski is the secretary for the HFTP Greater Nashville Chapter. He brings over 20 years of extensive experience in club management, membership and food and beverage operations. Serving most recently as a general manager and chief operating officer (COO), he has a wealth of knowledge in equity, corporate and privately owned and operated clubs across the country. In addition to his successful club operations, Jim’s passion for the industry is fueled by his past experiences in the positions of executive chef, regional membership director, and regional food & beverage specialist.