The Return to In-Person Meetings November 10, 2021
The pandemic upended a primary source of both member engagement and nondues revenue for associations: in-person meetings. But as organizations revive their face-to-face offerings, they’re doing it smarter—by applying the lessons they’ve learned since March 2020.
Going back to in-person events while still following COVID-19 health and safety protocols will surely feel different, including in your exhibit hall. To make the most of the expo experience, start early, create a comfort zone, use technology and data, and try new things.
During a prolonged period of change, something had to give. Life and work have been reshaped and transformed, and that means people want different things. In planning future meetings, it’s time for associations to put the participant first and let the event follow.
As associations seek to strike a balance between two worlds, experimentation has led to some basic truths about what people want when they convene. Fun and connections should be integral parts of every format.
Hybrid meetings have allowed associations to reach new audiences, attracting people who might never have attended without a virtual option. Smart organizations will take steps to bring them back to the next event, maybe even in person.
Planners of today’s hybrid meetings are working to create more seamless experiences, using new technologies and lessons learned over the past 20 months to better connect their in-person and virtual participants.
A little structure, facilitation, and audience participation can take networking out of its sometimes awkward, stilted past into a reimagined, reinvigorated future, whether your meeting is in person or virtual.
The stop-and-start nature of the past 20 months has complicated many things, including the critical decision whether to hold an event in person or virtually. Associations are weighing several variables and making sure their events will meet members’ needs.
With partners sometimes feeling underwhelmed by sponsorship opportunities at events reshaped by the pandemic, now’s the time for associations to rethink their strategy. Success will require talking to industry partners about their needs, getting smarter about virtual, and experimenting with new offerings.