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Some scary survey results

According to research conducted for ground transportation services company BostonCoach that was released today at the National Business Travel Association International Convention and Exposition in Chicago, 70 percent of attendees are not happy with their meetings/convention/tradeshow experiences. Most cited travel-related hassles and time away from the home and office as their biggest gripes. From the press release:

    The online survey of 129 meeting and event attendees was conducted by Salem, Mass.-based market-insights firm G2M and revealed considerable passion about business travel - not all of it good.

    "We wanted to discover the emotional drivers - the hot buttons - of folks who attend events to see if there's room for improvement in the attendee experience," explains Bill Mount, a partner at G2M. "There clearly is, based on more than 2,000 spontaneous verbatim comments of respondents."

While there's not much you can do about airplane delays and being away from home, what you can do is make the hassle worth their while (and, as the press release suggests, build in time for them to touch base with their offices). A lot of conference organizers try to do this by cramming every second with more content, more speakers, more events. Having been the victim of all too many "more is better" conferences, I don't think this is the answer. Attendees get buried in the information overload, and the gems they really could use get buried, too. Give people some space and some places to hang out, let loose of some of the sessions to let the participants take them over and reshape them into what they really want, and find ways to encourage them to learn from each other. That's really why they come, and what will make it worth dealing with the travel hassles.

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