Meetings Pro Tip: Consider Co-Locating Upcoming Meetings

The uncertainty of the pandemic is helping to resurface a trend that resource-strapped organizations have been using to strengthen their meetings for years—joint scheduling.

Pooling resources is a great way to turn less into more, something that association pros have long been aware of.

But with the gradual return to in-person events, the discussion can take on a new tenor that might encourage associations to revisit a collaborative endeavor: Co-locate their annual meetings.

What’s the Strategy?

The idea of co-locating meetings, which was a hot trend in the association space about a decade ago, is picking up interest once again as in-person events start anew.

One example of this trend is taking place in Las Vegas, which is launching its Food & Beverage Industry Week next month. The event will bring together the Bar & Restaurant Expo, the International Pizza Expo, SIAL America, and the World Tea Conference & Expo, all over a four-day period.

Why Is It Effective?

In more traditional times, co-location has been a helpful way to pool resources and offer attendees more options for their attendance dollar (including education offerings). That’s definitely the case with the Las Vegas event—attendees who sign up for any of the four events will be able to check out the other expos taking place over the same period. (Hey, maybe we’ll see some more pizza parlors serving fancy teas in the near future.)

But there’s another, more important element at play now, per MeetingsNet: a way to hedge against uncertainty. After all, if you can’t guarantee a certain attendee count for one event, or if there’s a COVID-related challenge that creates travel complications, co-locating can help spread out and minimize some of the risk. And it could be a model for other shows going forward.

“If the co-location of these shows is a notable success, it might spur consideration for co-locations of other conventions and tradeshows run by different organizers, especially in a post-pandemic business environment that cannot be predicted,” writer Rob Carey noted.

What’s the Potential?

In 2011, Dave Lutz of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting pondered many of the challenges and considerations that can come with a co-location strategy.

Despite the changes in the landscape, much of his commentary rings true today: While it’s important to understand whether it’s a culture fit for all participating organizations—and to anticipate added logistical issues—the potential to strengthen all organizations taking part and add value to each of them is high.

“Co-locating with another organization to produce a bigger industry conference sounds enticing. It appeases exhibitors and sponsors who want to attract new attendee segments,” Lutz wrote. “It lures attendees who want to maximize their time away from the office with two events in one. Organizations’ leaders may view it as a fast-track growth tactic or a way to reverse declines in attendance or revenue.”

(vm/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

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

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