Chamber Management Software: 7 Great Tools for 2019
January 4th, 2019
Chamber management software is one of the most niche solutions on the web. But you’re here, and you’re reading this, so it’s probably up your alley. Stick with our words of wisdom when it comes to selecting the right tool for your chamber management needs, and you’ll walk away more informed than when you started reading.
Event Management Software, Membership Management Software, and even just plain old CRMs are all orbiting different niche industries trying to be as general as possible to make everyone happy. That’s all fine and dandy, but as pain points become more and more of a talking point, it comes down to these tools to either provide a solution, or a workaround, most of which vie for the latter.
What makes Chamber Management Software Different?
Chambers and Associations are more inter-personal than a regular event-attendee or business-customer relationship. Chambers are a community and industry-focused societies that are there for each other, and the only true way to make a Chamber stand out in their regional markets is the amount of trust they can express to their new members.
Here are the 8 greatest Chamber Management Software solutions we could find for your window-shopping pleasure.
At EventBank we’ve been narrowing our aim year over year with the EventBank Chamber and Association management solution. Originally an event management and marketing tool, EventBank collected all the main-stay tools so that marketing and events teams can run events and manage attendees. That means we built up our own ecosystem of CRM, Email Marketing, Website Creation, Ticketing, and much more. Through market-after-market of success, we soon found ourselves with our first real challenge, a Chamber of Commerce looking to become a customer. Of course, the platform was ready for events, but what about relationship-based memberships?
We had two choices, either turn them away and move on or, evolve and meet the needs of this growing demand, becoming a true chamber management software solution. Of course, we would choose the latter. With a few updates here and there, the EB platform was ready to go, and soon we were able to start serving chambers. But what were the big changes we made? Was it the UX? No, UX can be updated for any use case. Was it the speed of the platform? Could be, but that benefits our events customers too.
No, it was the relationship-based contact management system. Chambers require trust to be successful in their goals, and with that in mind, the biggest transformation on the EB platform was the inclusion of high-detailed contact modules that allows Chambers not only go get analytics from their digital management but also to draw demographics and insights from interactions with their members. That means the CRM that you populate with member data translates to all other aspects of the platform, automatically personalizing your event management at every level from merge tags to dues reminders and event suggestions.
Chamber Software is quite literally chamber software. It’s an amalgamation of the best tools for use on any chamber website but works more like a cookie-cutter platform for chambers. While they may help out small chambers who are price-sensitive, it may not be a match for those that require more brand-awareness with their community.
However, for those that are not shy about putting their site upon a platform that’s off their own domain, then Chamber Software is a pretty darn good option. With a wide array of tools, you’ll have the ability to manage a community, set up event pages, ticket, send emails, and automate dues and renewals all from one platform. The only one solution I would wish to see on their list is automation for membership renewals and dues payment reminders. Aside from that, the platform is pretty spot on, if you can swallow the hefty one-time setup fee, the monthly price is affordable for those that are not already paying to develop their own website, use email marketing tools, and so on.
Chamber Master is a chamber management software suite that is intending to leverage it’s data management to improve the experience of managing large lists. There are indeed public-facing features like directories and blogs, and a really good members portal that can be utilized to create great online communities. Events, news, and blogs are automatically updated and any edits are updated in real time, so Chamber Master also plays the role of CMS at some level as well.
The real use case and value Chamber Master puts forth is its ability to simplify your data, and bring it all in one place. You won’t find a CRM that integrates with any tools, so you’ll have to decide whether or not to hop from an older service to ChamberMaster, and with the scarcity of chamber software in the industry, it’s an easy choice to move to Chamber Mater. You’ll still need to host events, ticket, send emails and automate your public facing needs with other tools, but you’ll need to work with the integrations team to get that set up for your suite.
Web hosting is available but it’s not very clear how easy the integrations are made if you’re using a third party website. The good news is ChamberMaster’s web services provide clean and professional web pages that will work more natively with their platform.
Chamber Nation is a hard-core chamber management software tool that runs in the same realm as EventBank Chamber and Association solution. That means there’s a whole love of chamber management features under the hood like the tried and true CRM and databases and web hosting. However, its truest value comes from its e-commerce support, allowing the chamber to host their own online stores on their chamber websites, eking more revenue for chambers who host free and public events more than paid ones, or member-only events.
The other great aspect of Chamber Nation is its ability to create a truly mobile-first experience by leveraging in-app messaging to engage members and remind dues and renewals. Web hosting seems to be a basic feature but for true integrations, it seems there’s, of course, going to be some negotiation involved. Chamber Nation’s subsidiary Chamber Organizer is a full-service version of the software for chambers who want to leave the setup and management process to the professionals.
Chamber Dashboard is a full-stack web hosting utility with a specific focus for hosting chambers and associations. Not exactly a chamber management software suite of tools, but more of a whole host of add-ons and plugins for popular WordPress themes, even having themes of their own. Free users can enjoy a suite of hosted databases and a CRM with near-limitless access so long as they start their chamber hosting with Chamber Dashboard. Meanwhile, other key features like Email Campaigns are locked behind one time payments that are typically below $100 each.
For those that are looking to start their chamber’s web presence with a full suite of native features, Chamber Dashboard may be the best option. However, it’s important to know that each addon is provided by Chamber Dashboard.
Another important thing to take note is that some features they provide are not really features. Some add-ons and plugins provided by Chamber Dashboard are really just integrations in disguise. For instance, ticketing and online payments is a free integration on any other web hosting service, meanwhile Chamber Dashboard locks this off on their web hosting platform with a paywall of $39. You’re also probably better off hosting your CRM with another provider as they also lock off both Importing and Exporting bulk data behind $39 for each feature. Both of which are free on all CRMs available on the web, even on some free CRMs.
Chamber Desk is a great chamber management software platform for web-hosting not due to its features, but due to its rich content marketing network that it provides. The core features are all there, web hosting, CRM, event hosting, ticketing, and so on. But the real value comes from its inter-business communication and content marketing with its vast arrays of Journalists. So Chambers looking for early-on promotion may want to check this out first.
A feature I saw on here that I didn’t see anywhere else is SMS marketing. How cool is that? Most of the time SMS marketing would be a premium level feature for even the most famous of Email Marketing tools out there. Very cool. Fees do apply, however. Packages range based on the number of members a Chamber wishes to host, and they scale quite well in my opinion.
However, one important thing to note is the amount of web storage that is limited to early on users are just under 5GB. While this may not be an issue, age will tend to grow a web page’s server file storage, especially when it comes to massive database entries and image-based advertisements, as well as video hosting. It may be entirely possible to his this storage limit even if your memberships stay under the maximum for your package. Buyer beware if you seek to store a massive amount of database data on your website.
CC-Assist is another platform that goes down the EventBank path of solutions. It’s a true all-in-one solution that provides any and all features a chamber might need, including CRM, Event Hosting, Ticketing, Email Campaigns, automation, and billing. The whole premise around CC-Assist is its experience in dealing with Chambers, due to its experience as a provider of services to chambers as far back as the 80s before it went digital. Bringing over decades of experience to the table and translate into your digital space.
The true downside of CC-Assist is it’s dated user interface for not only the back end but as well as the front end. Limited options leave you with a cookie-cutter website that doesn’t blend well with most modern expectations. The mobile app, a separate cost that’s available for purchase, is better, but is just used for back end users only, and not for an in-person ticketing strategy. That is not to say that users cannot purchase tickets however, and users can very much purchase tickets online prior to events.
The other harrowing issue is that the software really is software. It’s not a web app, and so it cannot be accessed at any time. The program must be downloaded securely. The only real way to let remote team members access the software is to load it onto a virtual server for remote access into one account. A painstaking solution to this issue and one that could be made better should it ever move into a web app interface with better UX.
The Sum of it All
Chamber management software solutions are not in a readily handy supply. Other suites of tools out there for fewer niche organizations are providing some of the best services and competitors are fighting either a price or a feature war with each other. But for the more niche Chamber demand, the competition is not very high and those that are in the game can be quite dated, to be frank. However, some tools we went over in our list are pretty top notch and provide value where it’s needed, so it’s best for a chamber to look at its own needs before it goes shopping around, as few all-in-one solutions exist.
We suggest looking at your web presence firstly, as the focus on CRM and Membership Management is quite lacking in the current tools aside from a select few. Web presence is the focus of even some of the original chamber management software tools so it’s best to start there. What do you need? An integration? Or looking to completely rebuild your digital self? Answering these questions early on is key for any Chamber to really make the most out of their software investments.
Want to learn more about Chamber Management Software? Click here and we’ll show you how EventBank approaches chamber and association needs!