Some Ideas for Developing a Conference Pricing Strategy

Since the onset of the pandemic, many associations have offered their virtual conferences for free. But new formats require new platforms and technology, and for many groups, the free model is no longer sustainable. So, what's the best pricing strategy to take?

Last year, many associations offered their virtual conferences to members for free. But that’s likely not a sustainable strategy. As you continue to assess your conference pricing model, especially with the increase in hybrid events moving forward, here are two examples I’ve come across recently that could provide some food for thought.

Paying for additional perks. While not in the association space, Reuters Next has a pricing strategy that addresses something that many attendees have said they’ve been missing during virtual conferences: networking and informal conversation.

According to an article published by The Drum, most delegates will access the meeting’s content for free, but for around $700, people can purchase what Reuters is calling “professional passes.” These come with additional perks, including a post-event report and access to a networking program that allows passholders to schedule one-to-one meetings with other attendees and potentially even speakers.

“This is something that both parties would opt into and the system would set up a time for you to connect,” said Reuters Chief Marketing Officer Josh London. “It’s similar to real-world [conferences], but with some advantages, so you are not standing on the outside of a circle waiting for a break in the conversation.”

Balancing in-person and virtual attendees. Back in November, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) held its World Education Conference as a hybrid event. The conference drew 600 attendees to a single in-person site—the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas—and more than 1,000 virtual attendees. MPI charged $799 for the in-person event and $299 for the digital experience.

Here’s a closer look at what attendees got for those registration fees: Even though all content was presented live to both audiences, the virtual sessions were not real-time video streams of the in-person sessions. Instead, the virtual sessions were conducted by many of the in-person presenters but at different times or even on different days. In addition, the in-person agenda ran over two days, while the virtual agenda ran over four.

“We wanted our digital audience to be able to engage directly with the instructors and facilitators so they could impact the course of those conversations, connect digitally with one another, and see each other’s video feeds,” Jessie States, CMP, CMM, director of MPI Academy, told MeetingsNet.

No matter what conference pricing model your association decides on, it’s important to communicate any changes to your members and show them how the changes will provide value to them.

What new pricing models is your association considering for its upcoming events? Please share in the comments.

(Fokusiert/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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