With some people still unable or unwilling to travel as the pandemic persists, hybrid meetings have allowed associations to attract more attendees than ever before. But how do you hold on to these new attendees and keep them coming back for more?
The answer, say experts, is a mix of two key strategies: extending the event experience by creating community around it, and using the data you gather to give attendees what they want and how they want it.
A primary reason people attend meetings—in person or virtually—is to connect with others, and you can help that process along even before day one, says Betsy Bondurant, president of Bondurant Consulting.
“Taking time to personally engage with these folks before the meeting even starts can help,” she said. “I’ve seen some organizations who do virtual happy hours or get-togethers once a week or once a month a few months in advance of the meeting. People can get the opportunity to meet each other more casually, so they have some connections when they actually see a few names they recognize in the online feed for the attendees who are there.” These preconference meet-ups should include both virtual and in-person attendees, she noted.
You can keep building community after the event is over, too. “There’s this idea of lengthening the term of engagement,” Bondurant said. “Really curating some of these post-event get togethers. What did you learn? What was your favorite takeaway from the meeting? Those types of things can be very valuable.”