The Impact of Live Events
First, the loss of live events represents a huge impact on many economies. From a micro level to the macro level: travel, hospitality, venues, sponsors, vendors, and attendees are all impacted economically. For membership organizations like professional and trade associations canceling live events is directly tied to the bottom line. Consequently, many associations rely on live events to drive their business models and revenue streams. That is to say, for many associations, the annual conference is not only the highest member value driver, it is also commonly the largest single revenue driver outside of member dues.
Making things worse for some associations are the reliance on live events for driving other revenue streams. For example, some associations provide certifications that require in-person attendance. In short, live events, continuing education, professional certifications, conferences, and annual meetings must pivot for the survival of the association.
Importantly, live events are also commonly the number one member value. So, the impact of an association is compounded. For associations pivoting live events to digital, it is crucial to plan for the social and emotional reasons members attend conferences. For some associations, the annual event is the hub on a much larger network of events that may or may not be sanctioned as official events. Meaning, member value may be in the ecosystem as much as in the event itself.
The Member Value of a Live Event
- Continuing education credits
- Maintenance of certification
- A break from routine operations
- A hotel suite
- Catching up with professional peers
- Surveying trends and insight from other organizations
- Surveying trends and offerings from partner and vendor networks
The Good News for Live Events and Association Conferences
There is a future for live events. Cvent data shared in our Actual Disruption Part 2 Webinar indicates that many organizations rushed to reschedule canceled events. The data shows that there is a bright future for live events. We believe conferences will be back in a big way.
A Vision: The Future of Association Conferences
The future is bright for live events but that said we are not expecting that future to look like 2019. There’s no “return to normal” coming until there’s a very effective treatment or vaccine. Certainly, we can expect some things to change as live events return. N95 face masks and potentially more extreme personal protective equipment are part of the future of live events. We are already seeing a spike in interest for tools and software like Adage’s SmartSeatTM select your own seat product that can assist organizations with the logistics of planning socially distanced events. And we expect that tape will become a new addition mediating our experience of architectural space. We also already see new methods and formats for running successful live events.
There’s no return to “normal” until there’s a very effective treatment or vaccine:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks and more
- Social distancing at live events
- Expect to see a lot of tape
- Expect to see hybrid events (virtual and in-person, live and recorded)
Case Study: How do you take a 20,000 person event and move it online?
James Brixius from CVENT, one of the world’s largest event planning organizations, shared a case study on how Computer-Using Educators (CUE) moved their conference on-line in a matter of days. The CUE national conference is scheduled for every year in March with about five to six thousand attendees. When social distancing measures were announced in Mid-March CUE had to change plans quickly. With registration already complete when the country moved into lock-down CUE created a new registration path for virtual attendees. CUE saw a 750 attendee increase by making the event virtual. They were able to reach an audience that otherwise was not reached before.
CUE was able to use a mix of Zoom and Facebook Live to stream their event. Their content was a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded material. They went out to their speakers, got about 60% of their sessions, recorded, and made available online. A plus side to moving an event virtual or moving into hosting hybrid events in the future is the potential to cast a wider net.
CUE also adapted their event mobile app that was planned for use at the in-person event. CUE tweaked the app so that they could house pre-recorded content, and also link out to live streams. Giving attendees different ways to engage with the event content and consume that content. CUE had 5400 users of the mobile app, which included native app downloads and also a web version of the app resulting in 200,000 points of engagement.
The ideas discussed in this post were originally found in Part 2 of a new series: “Actual Disruption”. Jake Toohey and Joe Post (Adage Technologies) and Ben Muscolino (Breezio and AMS Geek) will be joined by a special guest panelist, James Brixius of Cvent, the leader in end-to-end Event Management Technology. We discussed what is happening in the event world, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what the future of Live Events looks like.