Visit San Antonio raises the visibility of the city as a world-class destination, provides businesses with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and serves as the main advocate for bringing meetings, conventions, and travelers to the city–a billion-dollar industry.
While traditional membership models work well for many convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs), VSA determined they could also create limitations. For example, VSA launched its membership program in 2018 with only two levels–gold and silver.
Based on member feedback, VSA realized its members wanted more options. Especially after the pandemic, which hit the travel industry hard, VSA wanted to evaluate whether there were other membership offerings they could provide and explore different ways to boost membership and increase engagement.
Avenue M led a deep dive–including stakeholder interviews and one-on-one conversations with members and prospective members–to gain insights from multiple viewpoints and input on potential adjustments to VSA’s membership model.
It evaluated the feasibility of a new membership structure by analyzing VSA’s financial and membership data and examining the membership models of five other CVBs to gain perspective on what others were doing in the field.
Based on VSA’s membership goals, market potential, and financial data, Avenue M presented multiple new model options, explaining the risks and rewards of each, and forecasting their potential growth and break-even potential.
“Avenue M helped us reevaluate the structure of the membership and add a couple of extra levels of membership so we could add a lower level tier and a higher one,” said Amanda Garcia, VSA’s vice president of community and government relations.
This year, VSA grew its membership by 26% and increased engagement. “We’ve had good growth for the first year relaunching the membership,” Garcia said. Avenue M helped VSA pull together best practices and get a thorough understanding of what its members really want and what the updated membership model could look like going forward.
Avenue M’s detailed research–including its risk and reward analysis and financial modeling–was particularly helpful for VSA. Many groups fear that members will choose the less expensive tier, which will lead to reduced revenue. However, even when VSA added a less expensive tier, members still chose higher level tiers because they had a renewed appreciation for VSA’s value and benefits.
Many of VSA’s members were struggling financially during the pandemic, so VSA didn’t charge them during that time but still provided them–and nonmembers–with the information and research they needed to navigate constantly changing regulations related to the pandemic.
While many members still opted for higher level tiers, the lower cost tier has been advantageous–and more inclusive. It has helped VSA connect with smaller businesses, like local artists and arts groups, that might not have been able to afford a higher level tier. It also meets members where they are.
“We wanted to make sure that everything was still affordable for our members no matter what their situation was coming out of the pandemic,” Garcia said.