Evaluating Chamber Services

Sponsor: Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce Adam Weiss, Shawna McGaffigan, Paige Lamica
Sponsor Liaison: Dr. Janet Schulte
Student Team: Paige Lamica, Shawna McGaffigan, Adam Weiss
Abstract: Our goal was to analyze the satisfaction of the public, member businesses and key stakeholders with the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce (NICC). Through archival research, surveys of the public, a survey of member businesses and interviews with other chambers and pertinent community members we examined the Chamber’s current practices and evaluated the success and value of its services. We concluded that the NICC could further improve its effectiveness by reconstructing its website to be more user-friendly and visually appealing, by providing new workshops to fit changing business needs and by encouraging greater awareness in the business community about housing and sustainability issues.

Evaluating Chamber Services Final Report

Evaluating Chamber Services Final Presentation









Executive Summary

Chambers of commerce have existed for over 400 years and serve their communities by promoting business activities, facilitating networking and providing educational resources to both members and the general public. Businesses typically pay dues to a chamber in order to maintain membership. This membership then provides the business with advertising, access to networking events, and educational opportunities such as workshops.

The goal of this project was to identify how the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce (NICC) might enhance its programs and services to better meet member needs and stakeholder expectations. To accomplish this goal we identified four objectives. We:

  • Identified and reviewed the current and best practices of other chambers comparable to the NICC;
  • Assessed how well the NICC meets member needs and stakeholder expectations;
  • Evaluated public satisfaction with selected NICC events; and
  • Recommended ways of how the NICC should modify its delivery of programs and services.

We used a combination of background research, surveys, and interviews with experts, Chamber members and Chamber staff to fulfill these objectives. We received 206 responses to our survey of the public and 66 responses on the member survey. Both surveys investigated common misconceptions about the Chamber including questions about its relationship with the Visitor Services Center, the percentage of businesses that are members and whether or not the Chamber is a government entity. The member survey asked about member satisfaction with dues, services and sponsored events. Our interviews followed a similar line of questioning, however, they allowed us to gather more circumstantial information and suggestions from business owners and other experts in the field.

We found that both members and the public are very satisfied with the Chamber. Fifty members (76%) indicated that membership was a good value and 76% of the public rated the NICC as “above average” in terms of its positive impact on the community. Moreover, we found consistently that members knew the most about the NICC’s activities, followed by year-round residents, seasonal residents and, as expected, tourists who knew the least.

We identified three ways in which the NICC could improve member, public and stakeholder satisfaction:

  • Reconstruct its website
  • Refresh and augment the services offered; and,
  • Explore new ways to disseminate information more effectively to businesses

On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) the Chamber’s website was rated a 3.36 for its value to members. Although this value is above average, 5 out of 17 interviewees and 3 out of 3 chamber staff believe that the website is not as user-friendly, visually appealing or functional as it could be. In order to address this, we recommend that the NICC partners with a local website design company to improve the look and functionality of its website. Working with a local, Massachusetts-based website design company will enable the NICC to be more intimately involved in the design and maintenance of the website.

Through the member survey and interviews, we found that the networking and educational services offered by the NICC are generally positively viewed. In the member survey, networking events were rated as the most valuable service with an average overall rating of 3.81 out of 5. Nevertheless, 6 out of 12 interviewees indicated these events should be redesigned to attract more non-members. Increasing non-member attendance will provide members new networking opportunities and provide the NICC with potential new recruits. Thus, we recommend that the NICC explore ways to increase the number of non-members attending networking events. We also recommend that the NICC consider hosting a networking event for new member businesses and their mentors, since new members may be less intimidated at such events. This will help to draw new members into the networking scene and therefore broaden the networking pool. The quality of workshops was generally rated above average, at 3.22 out of 5, although this service received the second lowest ranking among all services offered. In the member survey, 64% of participants stated that the current number of workshops was satisfactory but several new topics were suggested. For example, 63% of participants requested a workshop on social media skills and 48% requested workshops on small business strategies. Therefore, we recommend that the NICC explores new workshop topics. New workshop topics will help business owners stay current with changing business management trends and will likely encourage greater attendance. It is also recommended that the NICC consider broadcasting these workshops in webinar format to better reach business owners who travel off-island in the shoulder season, or who find it difficult to leave their premises during the day.

Finally, we determined that there are some misconceptions about the NICC. When asked if the NICC is a local government entity, 27% of members and 57% of the public were either incorrect or unable to answer. When asked about the proportion of businesses on the island that are members of the Chamber, members chose an incorrect number 46% of the time while the public chose incorrectly 64% of the time. These statistics lead us to recommend that the NICC undertake an educational campaign so that the public is more aware of the Chamber and its true roles in the community. Additionally, this campaign would help to distinguish the NICC from the Visitor Services Center (VSC), an organization which is commonly thought to be part of the NICC. By highlighting the positive and cooperative relationship between the NICC and the VSC, the public will be more knowledgeable about who truly sponsors which events and where NICC funds are going, leading to increased satisfaction with the NICC services. From interviews, it was also suggested that the Chamber educate employers on both housing and sustainability. Housing was identified as an extremely important issue affecting the business climate on Nantucket according to 11 out of 12 interviewees. Sustainability was mentioned as an increasingly important issue according to 3 out of 4 interviewees whom we questioned on this topic. We therefore recommended that the Chamber consider providing educational workshops and materials to business owners on sustainability and housing issues.