For most associations, a primary objective of the annual conference is delivering education and knowledge to attendees. This means that for conferences, content is king. As technology continues to evolve, attendee demographics shift and user preferences change, are associations seeing a shift in how they need to deliver content to meet the needs of current and future attendees? The short answer is yes.
We conducted an online survey of 151 association professionals, a majority of whom are responsible for conference planning, to understand the current state of conference content, key challenges and how organizations are preparing for their future members.
Insight #1: Associations report their attendees want them to offer a greater blend of print and digital content before, during and after the conference.
Sixty percent of respondents reported seeing a shift in how attendees prefer to receive conference materials. Based on responses, it’s clear that print isn’t dead, but a print-only (or, even digital-only) strategy is. Our respondents reported that increasingly, attendees are favoring a greater blend between print and digital, and associations are responding accordingly. Our respondents report offering an average of 2.6 different content formats at their conferences, allowing attendees choose how they want to receive conference materials based on their learning preferences.
At the same time, nearly one-quarter of respondents were unsure of whether their attendee preferences were changing. As membership demographics continue to shift in the next few years, these associations will need to start monitoring and measuring preferences and behaviors much more closely.