By Megan Brodbeck | March 13, 2022
As the events industry hits its stride in its effort to return to the “new normal,” associations are finding themselves evaluating their comeback strategy for live conferences and trade shows. The truth is, the best course of action may be to throw the playbook out the window. There has never been a better time to carefully dissect all areas of your events, then reassemble them with some improvements and efficiencies.
Consider these three steps:
1. Repeat After Me: “My content has value.”
Whether you held a virtual event or canceled your event(s) in their entirety since March of 2019, your membership and audience are seeking your content for professional growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided us with the resources to continue to provide that content to a broader, but arguably less engaged audience.
One YGS client is providing a packaged, digital version of their annual event via their learning management system after the live event concludes in May 2022. The offering will include recordings of all breakout sessions, including sponsored sessions. Associations could consider a similar approach as value added to an in-person event registration fee or as a standalone fee for those unable to travel to the event during the live dates.
2. Remind your attendees what this event does or can do for them.
We participate in events to network and advance our professional knowledge—provide key data points to remind them why your event is something that they cannot afford to miss! Corporate travel restrictions and state/local health and safety guidelines make travel to and from events more challenging. Resources like attendance justification letters and publishing schedule and speaker information are becoming increasingly important.
At a recent event in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to connect with an exhibitor who provided a meaningful testimonial for a client’s event. They detailed a single connection they’d made at a 2019 live event that led to a large order for their company, which was a small, start-up business. This testimonial will aid in the marketing in support of exhibitor and sponsor sales for future live events!
3. Now is the time to review your event offerings for improvement and revision.
Evaluate the financial impact of all areas within your event, as it may be time to sunset some offerings that have been losing popularity or impact the past few years.
Establish (or refresh) your core values for your events like a green initiative or a reduced waste commitment. Some of these may already be in place for your organization but are worth reviewing in the context of your events. Are there areas of your event that could be reimagined with these values in mind? At an event earlier this month, a life-sized (10’x8′) schedule-at-a-glance was available in the registration area for attendees to use. This not only eliminated the printed version of the resource but also created a revenue generation opportunity via sponsorship or additional sponsor exposure.
The new normal may look nothing like the normal of 2020 and earlier, but keeping the value that the event brings to your industry at the forefront of your planning is critical to recovery. Interested in strengthening your association’s event offerings? Drop us a line to see how we can help strategize your approach.