Here’s a phrase that’s likely being used a lot by managers in corporate America right now—and it does not bode well for association conventions and trade shows:
“Can't you attend the event virtually?”
After Covid forced most associations to transition to the online medium to hold their educational and networking events, the return to in-person events presents a new challenge: marketing not only to your attendees but also to their bosses. Especially with inflation hammering most departmental budgets, executives want to know that there is tangible value in paying for an employee’s travel, lodging, meals, and registration to attend an association meeting.
So, an event's marketing campaign should give potential attendees several reasons they can present after they respond to their manager with, "Yes, but..."
To help with that goal, this article on CFO.com presents the thoughts of several chief financial officers about what persuades them to allow their people to attend industry events in person. For some, it is the education; for others, it is the sales opportunities; and for others, it is the networking.
Regarding that last factor, consider this perspective as you market both the sessions and the high-profile participants of your next conference: “Generally, you need to spend money to get into the same room as the leaders of your industry,” said one CFO. And when it comes to making employees feel like the company cares about their career development, here’s how another CFO is thinking about industry events: “Business travel was dead for 18 months, so people are looking for any excuse they can get to travel...for companies looking to reduce employee churn, which has been at the top of many executives’ minds, [it] is a nice perk to offer.”