December 3, 2020 by Dave Lutz
In 2020, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors were more forgiving of our virtual conferences than they will be in 2021. They, like you, are all experiencing Zoom fatigue and will have much higher expectations for conferences this coming year — especially those they are investing their precious time and money. Don’t waste a good crisis. Use this opportunity to beta test changes that can be carried over to the next in-person conference.
While in the second half of 2020 many virtual conferences grew attendance, attracting global and non-member participants, much of that growth can be attributed to significantly reduced registration pricing.
So the big question to ponder for 2021 and beyond is: Will those — especially global and non-members — who’ve attended virtual events this year return? And more importantly, will they become members and be additive through lifetime loyalty and spend? Anecdotally, I believe that in 2020, most conferences traded improved reach for a lower tier of participants. For this reason, I think it’s critical to design your 2021 virtual conference to attract attendees who will help improve your association’s long-term sustainability.
Senior-level attendees tend to have busier schedules. They will not participate six to eight hours a day for your three-day virtual conference. For 2021, don’t take the same old face-to-face agenda and try to plug it into a virtual experience. Here are four ideas to get you started:
What big changes are you planning to make in 2021? Is your organization willing to take on more risk?
Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2020.
Filed Under: Experience Design, Hybrid & Virtual
I could not agree more. 2020 has been a year of learning in virtual conferences and events. Thank you for sharing your insights, virtual is definitely here to stay in the event industry.
Agreed. Zoom fatigue is real, and I think it happens when the content isn’t engaging enough to hold attention. I also really like the section about taking risk with experience design. Showing off some creativity to mix it up can help get audiences engaged.
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