Weekly Now: People Are Ready to Return to Events … Well, Soon

Recent research from Freeman finds that attendees and exhibitors alike are warming up to doing in-person events near the end of the year. Also: Understanding the relationship between engagement and value.

The comeback of the in-person event is looking a little bit rosier than you might expect.

That’s according to Freeman, which has been analyzing sentiment in the events space in recent months—and found in its most recent analysis that 85 percent of attendees and 86 percent of exhibitors might be ready to return to events by the end of 2021. That’s a significant leap from a February survey that asked the same question and found that 74 percent of attendees and 78 percent of exhibitors were willing to make the same call—reflecting the fact that many companies are expected to lift restrictions on attending in-person events this fall.

Additionally, sentiment for the events sector seems to be on the rise, with positive sentiment improving to 45 percent (up from 30 percent in February) and negative sentiment falling to 36 percent (down from 51 percent).

Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck noted in a news release that the firm has already assisted in a number of successful in-person events in recent months.

“We have already been a part of safe in-person events across the country this year in Atlanta, Dallas, Lake Tahoe, Tampa, and Orlando, to name a few,” Priest-Heck said. “The research shows that the interest to return to in-person is increasing, and on an accelerated timeline.”

The full report is available for purchase on the Freeman website.

Other recent headlines:

Task force aims to respond to COVID-19 surges globally. The Global Task  Force on Pandemic Response, a new public-private partnership created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and backed by Business Roundtable, is working to help address rising outbreaks of COVID-19 around the globe—starting with India. The task force is working to deliver ventilators and oxygen concentrators to healthcare facilities in need this month, while helping to build an action group for human resources officers in the country to assist with business responses. Companies supporting the effort include IBM, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, and Apple, among many others.

National PTA gives family reading program a relaunch. The National PTA’s Family Reading Experience program, first launched in 2013, is getting a refresh with an eye toward encouraging families to read more diverse materials, with the program’s refresh built around its “four I’s of family engagement”—inclusive content, an individualized approach, integration with the broader educational system, and impactful lessons. “Families play an essential role in helping children develop their literacy skills, inspiring a love of reading, and providing children with books that reflect the diversity of our world, which helps children do better in school and beyond and plays a critical role in raising informed, inclusive children,” National PTA President Leslie Boggs said in a news release.

Engagement and Value: One and the Same?

Does engagement automatically equal value, or do they diverge at different points? The answer to that question can have a lot of ramifications for how associations operate. Fittingly, it was a recent hot topic in the Association Chat Facebook group.

In a blog post on the website Pricing for Associations, the firm’s owner, Michael Tatonetti, CAE, makes the case that high-touch events like webinars can have high engagement, but not an equivalent amount of value as something like a survey, which only happens occasionally but generates far more value for an association.

“There are many other metrics beyond engagement that you can place on your product dashboard, and it depends on what type of product it is,” he writes. “Your pricing and value should be looked at as a strategy across your ecosystem of products that range from free components to high-ticket items.”


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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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