Hybrid Format and Lower Prices at Center of New ISACA Conference Strategy
In a bid to increase access to its meetings, ISACA launched a new strategy for its conferences. The events, which are held across the globe, will be hybrid and priced lower to draw more participants.
As associations try to adjust to the new meetings landscape that is emerging in the wake of the pandemic, many are looking to revamp their strategy. ISACA, a global association serving business technology professionals, looked at its conferences and decided it wanted to bring that content to more people around the world. To do so, it’s transitioning to a hybrid model for all of its ISACA Conference series meetings and reducing prices as much as 50 percent in some regions that will host an event.
“We have shifted our conference strategy,” said Christy Bares, director of event operations and services at ISACA. “We used to host conferences that were more specific to topics. We started the ISACA Conferences to have everything in one place.”
The ISACA Conference series will host events in six different regions of the world: Latin America, North America, Africa, Oceana, Europe, and Asia. With this new strategy, ISACA hopes to ramp up participation.
“Our hope is that it just opens up the opportunity to engage with a lot more members,” Bares said. “We would love to have as many in person as possible. There is something about that face-to-face interaction that is valuable, [but] we understand at the same time that’s not possible for everyone.”
Outcomes of the New Strategy
This new strategy does have some implications for ISACA. To start with, it’s not easy to plan and execute hybrid events because the organization must create two meeting experiences—virtual and in person.
“Most meeting planners know by now that planning a hybrid meeting is like planning two different events,” Bares said. “It’s not as simple as just streaming everything. You have to be very intentional about virtual and in person because they have different needs.”
For example, ISACA will be looking to bring the virtual audience more into the fold during this series. “We are taking a lot of steps to bring audiences together, with a mobile app and chat functionality and Q&A, to give an opportunity for both groups to ask questions,” Bares said. “On the virtual side, one of the things that we learned is networking for a virtual audience looks a lot different.”
One change ISACA will make is moving virtual networking to the lunch hour, rather than at the end of the day, when virtual users are ready to log off.
In addition to the extra planning components for a hybrid meeting, there’s the effects of discounted pricing. While ISACA is expecting less revenue with this strategy than with previous in-person conferences, the group does expect it to be better than the two years they had to move their events completely virtual due to the pandemic.
“We went into our budgets pretty conservatively because we’re not sure what it’s going to look like,” Bares said. “We’re hoping that the attendance and engagement will increase. We see that a lot of our sponsors are coming back and are enthusiastic.”
Members are enthusiastic, too, applauding the move at a time when many are still trying to financially recover from the pandemic.
“Sometimes, the ability to budget for professional development is one of the things that keeps people from coming,” Bares said. “We are not at the point where we can tell from our numbers how successful we will be, but so far, we’ve gotten very positive responses.”
When asked if ISACA had a timeline for evaluating the success of this strategy, Bares said the association is continuously evaluating to determine how things are working and what changes they might want to make.
“We are regularly making changes to how we’re doing things to better serve our members,” she said.
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