In an industry-first move, SPIN (Senior Planner Industry Network) has announced that it will not charge dues to join the group in 2016, or a registration fee for planners attending its annual conference, SPINCon. The initiative, dubbed the “Year of the Member” (#yearofthemember), was announced at the opening session of SPINCon Sunday at the Hilton Oak Brook Hills Resort outside Chicago, and met first with stunned silence, then thunderous applause by attendees.
“The idea came out of our strategic planning session in September,” says the group’s founder, Shawna Suckow. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the money, it’s about facilitating conversation and building community.
“We are always asking ourselves, ‘How do we build engagement?’ We know that once someone gives us a try, they get what we are all about. But there are two barriers to that happening: time and money. This decision addresses the money issue.”
Suckow anticipates that the move will be funded by an increase in sponsorship as the group grows larger. SPIN, which grew out of a listserv started by Suckow several years ago, has 2,500 members. Planners must have 10 years of experience to join. “No association out there has a grasp on how many senior planners are out there,” says Suckow. “We have members that don’t belong to any other industry associations.”
With this move, 2016 will be a year of unknowns for SPIN, starting with having to plan the next convention with no idea of how many people will attend. The number of members and attendees will most certainly grow as a result of this decision. One thing is certain: All eyes will be on SPIN in the coming year.