Just a few years ago, printed programs resembling metropolitan phone books were as common as shrimp skewers at association conferences. A new Annual Conference Industry Report from content producer Omnipress shows that while the exchange of information is still important, a younger generation of attendees wants to engage in new ways.
Here are four tips we picked up from the answers of nearly 150 planning professionals surveyed by Omnipress, almost half of whom said their top job this year will be to increase attendance.
1. Attendees want engagement, with each other
Trends uncovered in the study include, encouraging peer-to-peer engagement and increasing conference quality, updating technologies to increase engagement and creating more networking opportunities during the event. Make them feel a part of the event. Involve the members by inviting them to contribute articles.
2. To attract a younger audience, re-use past event content and show them what they missed
Since the oldest millennials turn 36 this year, the study focuses on tactics that can be used to meet the needs of a multi-generational audience. This year’s survey saw a significant rise in the number of organizations that are re-using conference content outside of the annual event. Planners can use this up-to-date information to create a fear of missing out (FOMO) effect among potential attendees.
3. Save the trees, turn off the printer
People want convenience, especially at meetings. Attendees are looking for easy ways to get the information they need. Almost half preferred using less printed material, with a third asking for more digital information. Don’t waste paper by printing folders and binders they have to carry around. Put information in their pocket.
4. Keep it local, open presentations to members
Focus on content that not only engages members during the event, but keeps old members coming back and gets new members begging to attend. Open calls for presentations is one way to get members involved. This publicly recognizes the contributions they are making. What is more engaging than praise?