How reliable do you expect the WiFi will be at the venue for your association’s next annual meeting? No matter what the event coordinator tells you, the likelihood of you not getting any complaints from attendees is close to zero.
Attendees will want to read abstracts and papers while they’re onsite, though, and unreliable WiFi at the venue shouldn’t stop them from doing that. Printed programs are a good alternative. But some attendees are starting to insist on digital resources. What’s a conference planner to do?
Physical digital media—CDs, DVDs and USBs—provide electronic access to conference content and don’t rely on internet connectivity. If an attendee wants to read a paper in advance of tomorrow morning’s keynote but doesn’t want to spring for (frightfully expensive) in-room internet access in their hotel room, a USB drive is the perfect digital alternative to providing online access to conference content.
Conference apps are perfect for many attendee needs—easy access to a personalized itinerary, GPS-enabled maps to help them get around and connections with other attendees, exhibitors and association staff. But reading technical papers on a small screen, while doable in a pinch, isn’t exactly an optimal experience. In fact, any of the other options—USBs, CDs, online conference materials or print—would work better than an app for reading abstracts.
When you think through the attendee’s typical conference experience, the need for physical digital media becomes abundantly clear. CDs, DVDs and USBs offer useful features, like advanced search capabilities, that make them enviable giveaways. Add to that the valuable branding opportunity and you’ve got a winning combination of swag and content delivery that resonates with attendees.
To keep your message consistent across platforms, you can add a companion site to your CD, DVD or USB. When attendees return from your annual meeting, they can access your conference content online from their office desktop and review abstracts and papers to their hearts’ content.
Consider all aspects of your attendees’ conference experience when you think about how to deliver your conference content. Give them as many avenues to the content as you can, keeping in mind that internet access may be spotty at best. Remember the joy of getting a freebie that you’d actually use again, like CDs and USBs. Any method of getting your association’s conference content to attendees is a worthy investment.