AORE Association News March 2017 - Page 18

AORE's Vendor Partners:

Behind the Scenes

Mitch Hoffman

Each year, AORE spends significant time and resources developing the facets of our vendor partnerships. Many of our members understand the transactional relationship our programs have with vendors (what and how we purchase from them), but there is a lot more going on behind the scenes.

As AORE has grown, both in size and scope, we have integrated ourselves into the greater framework of the Outdoor Industry As-sociation. Through these deepening rela-tionships, we have created a place for AORE within the broader industry umbrella, while also being positioned to have a voice in industry-related issues. This education allows vendor members to see AORE’s value beyond the transactional relationship and create a vision that is focused more on long-term, multifaceted partnerships. This has allowed AORE to grow and sculpt vendor services and opportunities to meet companies’ varying needs. While for some vendors, this is still primarily transactional, many others see the value of supporting our strategic initiatives that dovetail with their company’s greater mission and values.

Vendor partners are more than just exhibitors at our annual conference. AORE has developed a spectrum of opportunities to give vendors multiple means of access to our membership to best meet their needs. This includes supporting initiatives like diversity and inclusion, youth engagement, brand recognition, and access to the 18- to 24-year-old next-generation user.

As we build these relationships, we seek to move our vendor partners through a progression with the association. This starts by getting them on board as vendor members—giving them access to our members and programs while opening the conduit for purchasing. The next phase is to get vendors to exhibit at our annual conference. As a testament, our vendors have told us how loyal our members are to our vendor partners. In return, our vendor partners highly value building relationships with our programs through the face-to-face inter-action they get at the annual conference. The next phase in this progression is meeting vendor-specific needs to bolster their visibility within AORE through sponsorship opportunities. These exist at the annual conference, through sponsoring events and awards, but also through advertising and education through AORE publications. The final tier of this progression is the AORE365 partnership that was launched in 2015. This program, as it’s titled, provides vendors with a year-round AORE experience. These ven-dors have become strategic partners who want to align with our cause and support our mission. The financial support of Mad Rock, Marmot, and Osprey as AORE365 members is truly helping move AORE to the next level.

Our vendor partners are an important part of AORE’s framework. Their support helps us do our jobs but, more important, aligns our association with a greater cause. This work has seen our vendor network grow and expand significantly over the past several years.

As members, vendor partners MUST factor into our purchasing decisions. We should all make sure that when we speak with vendor members, they know our program is part of AORE, and thank them for their support.