Group at RGS-IBG building. © Rob Johns
In August last year, we invited all Fellows and Members to share how they engage with the Society, their experiences of membership, and how we could improve.
We would like to extend a warm thank you to the nearly 800 members who took the time to complete the survey. Each answer and suggestion is valuable in helping us better understand the needs of our members, and improve the experiences of existing and future new members.
We were gratified to see that our Fellows and Members are generally very satisfied with their memberships. However, we have also begun initiating some changes based on the many helpful suggestions we received.
Between September 2021 (when the Society first re-opened its doors after the pandemic lockdowns) and August 2022, 43% of respondents attended online Society events. We are continuing to deliver a programme of online and hybrid events alongside in-person events (both at the Society in London and regionally) to meet the changed needs of members and allow as many as possible to attend our events. The need to continue with this approach is further reinforced by the respondents who reported finding travelling to events inconvenient.
Many members expressed that more opportunities to bring a guest would encourage their attendance at in-person events. Since 2020, all Monday night lectures have been open to members plus one guest. We have begun offering more social events, such as member plus guest private viewings of exhibitions to complement Monday night lectures, and we are in the early stages of planning new member welcome tours.
Some responses indicated an unfamiliarity with the existing range of member benefits available. Therefore, we will be giving greater prominence to member benefits in the monthly members’ e-newsletter and welcome emails sent to new members. We hope this ensures maximum awareness and enjoyment of all that membership offers.
A very high percentage of members are happy with the frequency and content of their member communications. Understanding how our members use their benefits and their motivations for joining will help us plan for the future and direct the right information to the right people.
Responses highlighted younger members’ desire for support in making connections within the community. We are following up with more targeted surveys to our Student Members and Associate Fellows to further assess their needs.
Our facilities and technology
To improve the experience of members watching our Monday night lectures online, we have acquired smart pointers to replace the laser pointers, which will enable online viewers to see where a speaker is pointing on the presentation screen.
Interest was expressed in us developing a member forum that would allow members to share achievements, announcements, and ongoing projects with each other directly. With the introduction of a new membership database and website over the course of this year, we will begin scoping this idea and investigating what is possible with the new platforms.
We are in the process of gradually modernising our facilities to address areas where we are not quite meeting the high expectations of visitors to our building. This includes renovating our toilets.
Spreading the word about membership
A large proportion of survey respondents (42%) indicated they first heard about the Society through a recommendation, which highlights the importance of word of mouth in growing membership. In October we ran a Refer a Friend campaign to offer a limited, cost-effective opportunity for friends of existing members to join and reward members for their recommendation.
Some comments echoed our own desire for the Society to connect with more diverse audiences and be as accessible to members from as many locations and backgrounds as possible. We will be applying some learnings from this survey to focus on extending our marketing reach to new audiences from broader groups of geographers and geography enthusiasts.
Feedback is welcomed at any time to email@example.com.