Thank goodness we are all on our way to America's venues to have meetings in person. Hope it lasts for a while. But increasingly we hear clients and prospects tell us that because they are back to in-person events, they won't be capturing anything, nor putting any of the conference content online. Which I get . . . kind of. The past two years have been difficult financially for many conference organizers, so when you get the chance to go back in person, it makes sense to cut out any expenses associated with capture or webcasting, right? Probably not. Here's why:
1. Are we just going to turn our backs on the 10-20% more attendees many of us experienced during the pandemic?
Research has shown that those who have the time and the budget (and now add comfort level) attend your events. And, of course, those who don't, don't. For many event organizers, the percentage of their sphere who don't have the time or budget to attend in person can top 95%. And if anyone didn't believe that, all they had to do was look at the numbers they got for their virtual events during the pandemic. A large percentage of event organizers reported increased attendee numbers when they went virtual - from an extra 10% on up to 30% better than their best in-person numbers. But the time and budget problem remains - if you go back to in-person events with no content capture, you are effectively turning your back on all those people who had newly come to love your events and content when they were online. And now what will be done to keep them engaged and feeling like people care about them?
2. Are we just going to turn our backs on the 10-20% fewer attendees many of us are experiencing now with our in-person events?
Sure EVERYONE wants to get back to meeting in person. But we hear from clients and prospects that many of them are now finding their numbers for their physical events are a bit soft - 10-20% lower than their best in-person numbers. And it is understandable why: like many meeting organizers, attendees may be facing tougher financial and time pressures. And there are still significant numbers of potential attendees who are NOT comfortable attending in-person events. If you go back to in-person events with no content capture, you are effectively turning your back on all those people who loved attending your events in person but for various reasons can't now. And now what will be done to keep them engaged and feeling like people care about them?
3. Hybrid events are not automatically a cost center, they should and DO pay for themselves - and even bring in PROFITS.
Yes, hybrid events can cost extra money - if we don't charge anything to attendees for them. But if you do, there are sure-fire ways to make these events pay for themselves - all we have to do is get a little smarter with our payment methodology. It's as simple as adding a couple of checkboxes to the materials going out for the physical event, like "See what you missed for an extra $99" or "Share this event with a colleague who can't attend in person for another $199" We have continually seen this method work, and most others don't seem to. The point is the people who pay for much of your online efforts are most likely to be the physical attendees, who have the time and money, and enthusiasm for your show to go for the extra access a few extra bucks provide. And yes, you can offer the whole show content collection for a higher price once the event is over, but by then, that revenue should be gravy - your capture costs are likely already paid for.
4. How are we going to keep our competitors at bay?
Some event organizers have real competitors breathing down their necks. Others have wannabe competitors - not a real danger now, but constantly scheming to poach your sphere. And what's the easiest way for some of them to compete with you? Buy a list and have an online event. And that is not only likely to be way less expensive than what you're doing, but they can also trumpet the fact that they are providing a very visible and critical member service - that you're not!
So we ask you to think about that when you are planning your next in-person event. Please don't just turn your back on as much as 40% of a sphere who may not understand why there is no access to event content unless they attend in person. Sure it's great to be there on-site, but for those of us who can't, give us something to let us engage with your event - and make a profit on your effort - and keep the bad guys at bay!