As associations return to a regular rhythm of meetings, they have more attendee data to work with. But some aspects of attendees’ lives have changed substantially since the pandemic, which means marketing professionals have had to adjust how they connect with potential attendees, and what data they use to do so.
For instance, consider this new data point: “Registered, did not attend.”
Rich Vallaster, DES, CEM, director of marketing, trade shows & events at A2Z Events, notes that associations did a necessary thing during the heart of the pandemic by making it easier for attendees to cancel their registration if they caught a late-breaking case of COVID or another issue arose. But associations that have maintained those policies will need to keep working to draw an attendee’s interest in an event even after they’ve registered.
“We used to consider success as registration—you signed up for the event, we’re done,” he said. “But there’s a shift post-pandemic in that I’ll sign up for events and may not go. As marketers, we have to think about messages like, ‘You should come,’ even if we know you’re signed up. You need to stay front and center to make sure they see the event’s value.”
This level of uncertainty is a prompt for marketers to think more about personalization, segmentation, and overall data hygiene. The Plastics Industry Association, for instance, is preparing for its first tradeshow since 2018, which has required a lot of data cleanup.
“We can’t rely on people from 2018 still being in the industry in 2024,” said Damaris Piraino, director of trade show marketing at PIA.
For example, while PIA is preserving some of its demographic breakdowns for marketing, particularly by industry, it’s also taking a closer look at those who have been committed attendees in the past and those who are newer members who might attend for the first time to determine how to better support both groups.