Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2017

Education Is the Top Driver
For Meeting Attendance

Why do people attend meetings? According to a new study conducted by the Experience Institute, the top three drivers that motivate people to attend a conference are education (92 percent), the destination (78 percent) and the opportunity to network (76 percent).

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Based on the responses of nearly 9,000 delegates to conventions and exhibitions, the Decision to Attend Study builds on findings of the Experience Institute’s first report, which was released in 2014. The research on attendance is a collaborative initiative involving the American Society of Association Executives, Destinations International, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association.

The latest report includes analysis of generational differences as they affect decisions to attend, among other factors influencing attendance. Some key findings:
• 91 percent of respondents of all generations say they have a strong propensity to continue their personal or professional education as adult learners, with millennials and Gen Xers at the highest rate of 95 percent.
• 42 percent of all respondents want to socialize via social media when attending, versus 74 percent who want to connect face-to-face. The majority of respondents want interactions that will help them build their professional network.
•Top barriers to attending a conference for all generations are overall cost and budget, consistent with the 2014 findings.

The study also includes a free, downloadable toolkit for maximizing attendance. Here are some tips from the toolkit:
• Always promote the educational value of the conference.
• Find ways to help attendees build their professional networks. This is especially important for younger members. Be sure to promote networking opportunities, which can be both on-site and post-event.
• Facilitate peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
• Identify personality types and learning preferences. Within every group there are introverts and extroverts. The introverts need the most care. Make a home for them within your meeting format by offering smaller workshops and lots of places to escape the crowds.
• Reinvent your on-site social media. The study showed that many attendees prefer to connect in person to build their networks, rather than use social media on site.
• Promote new things to do and see in the host city. This may tip the scale to a “yes” decision to attend. Partner with the local CVB to explore ways to target market to attendee interests.
• Offer ways to defray or delay attendance costs. — Regina McGee

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MeetingMentor, the leading publication for senior meeting planners, is circulated to the clients, prospects and sales associates of ConferenceDirect, which books more than 3.87 million room nights. www.meetingmentormag.com

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