Go big with your event, and you’ll convince your members not to stay home.
That’s the theory many planners are testing as they organize meetings in locations known for their “rizz,” the Gen Z slang for charisma, to lure association professionals back to face-to-face events after years of virtual sessions.
Site appeal is critical, considering 74 percent of meeting planners said that increasing attendance is the primary goal for their 2023 events, according to the latest industry data from Omnipress.
When members learn an event will be held in a location that they don’t find particularly intriguing, they might be inclined to take a pass, said Don Ross, vice president of meeting operations for the Las Vegas region of Caesars Entertainment. “But when it’s in Las Vegas or another really cool destination, they’re going to come,” he said.
Although attendees will be at your sessions, he noted, they’re also drawn by the opportunity to explore the destination at night.
‘Theme Park for Grown-Ups’
“When you come to Vegas, you’ve got a theme park for grown-ups with the restaurants and the shows,” said Ross, who moved to the city himself after falling in love with it during a weekend jaunt more than 30 years ago. “Our customers for years and years have told us that their best attendance is when they come to Las Vegas.”
That may be even more true now, as in-person events are virtually impossible to replicate digitally, meetings organization IACC explained in a recent report.
As American Express noted in its global meetings and events forecast for 2023, members want to spend time together at in-person events for better bonding and more professional development.
Access to authentic local experiences ranked fourth in a list of most important factors in achieving event objectives, according to IACC’s global survey of meeting planners, behind education and content, networking with colleagues from the event, and the venue’s physical characteristics.
There’s another factor at play, too.
Conference organizers say one way they plan to boost attendance is by bringing in more first-time attendees, particularly young professionals, something that Omnipress found was important to 93 percent of survey respondents.