The Decision to Attend Study: Phase 1

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 5.30.22 PMThe Decision to Attend Study, created in partnership by The Experience Institute, IAEE, and PCMA, has begun it’s Phase 2. Yesterday, Mickey Schaefer of The Experience Institute shared some of the key findings in Phase 1. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling those findings for you. Take a look at the major takeaways.

  1. Propensity to Attend
    1. The Propensity to Attend is High Across All Generations. 92% are likely to attend, with younger generations trending strong.
    2. Younger Generations Are Replacing Older Generation Attendees. As the older generations attend fewer events, the younger Gen X and Gen Y generations are filling the void.
    3. The Propensity to Learn Impacts Attendance Frequency. Even the Never attendees reflect a desire to continue their education.
  2. Attendance Drivers
    1. Education & Staying Abreast are Key Drivers. Education (program, content, speakers, exhibits) is still a strong attendance driver and should remain a prominent part of the marketing message.
    2. okbzyyzfnw59kamy3umvThey Want Opportunities to Network & Make Connections. Networking and making connections are important to 75% of all respondents, but most important to Gen Y Millennials at 84%, as they’re building their base of contacts.
    3. The Destination / Location is Significant. A remarkable 82% of all respondents report that the destination definitely factors into their decision.
    4. Attendees Socialize, but Less So on Social Media. Beyond networking and making connections, nearly 71% of respondents indicated a strong desire for opportunities for social interaction and discussions while attending. Opportunities to engage with others via social media as a benefit of attending was rated relatively low at 40% Important / Very Important for all respondents combined.
    5. Attendees Will Search Local Websites & Social Media. Seven in ten will search local websites to see what the destination is about and nearly one-half will search social media and review sites to learn what others are saying about the destination experience.
  3. Attendees as Consumers
    1. Attendees Fuel Spending
      1. Attendees Extend Their Stay / Vacation. Attendees turn into leisure travelers, with over one-half indicating they would extend their stay or turn their trip into a vacation — fueling additional room nights.
      2. Attendees Will Bring Others. Nearly one-half will bring someone with them (friend, family, companion) — multiplying the overall visitor spend.
      3. Attendees Get ’Out & About’. Three-quarters report they would get ‘out & about’, with Gen Y Millennials even higher at 85%. They will consume the destination ‘product’, while forming opinions on the destination experience. They grow the visitor spend.
    2. The Destination Experience Impacts Repeat Attendance.If the destination experience is positive, 84% are likely to return to attend the same meeting/convention/expo at that destination, with over three-quarters likely to return to attend a different one.
    3. The Destination Experience Fuels Repeat Visits. If the destination experience is POSITIVE, over three-quarters of attendees will consider returning for leisure travel. But if it’s NEGATIVE, only 4% are likely to return for leisure travel.
    4. Attendees Will Recommend the Convention / Expo and the Destination. This shows the sale isn’t made when the convention is booked. The sale is made when the convention leaves.
    5. Screen-Shot-2013-03-26-at-3.46.26-PMAttendees Will Tell Others About Their Positive or Negative Experience. Nine in ten reported they will tell others (peers, friends, family, etc.) about a POSITIVE destination experience, with over one-half telling others of a NEGATIVE destination experience.
    6. How Attendees Tell Others Varies by Generation. Having a face-to-face conversation was rated above 90% across all generations as the preferred method of communication in recommending or telling others about their positive or negative experience.
    7. Attendees Will Give Feedback on Both the Convention/Expo and Destination Experience, if it’s Quick & Easy. Eight in ten respondents indicated they would be likely to provide feedback through an online or mobile survey, if it were quick and easy to do so.
    8. Attendees Have High Expectations About the Destination Experience. In thinking about the destination experience, three-quarters rated all of the following as Important or Very Important, in descending order: Transportation Options; Safe; Clean; Way-finding; Welcoming / Friendly; Service-Oriented; and Variety of Things to See & Do.
    9. Today’s Attendees Have a High Propensity to Travel. Overall, the Propensity to Travel is very high among the respondents with 87% reporting they’d take 2-4 trips/year, if time and money were no object.
    10. Attendees Consider Themselves ‘Seasoned’ or ‘Expert’ Travelers. In evaluating the level of travel expertise, over 60% of all respondents consider themselves ‘Expert’ or ‘Seasoned’ travelers (4-5 on a scale of 5) who are able to ‘navigate just about anything’, with little variance between generations.
  4. The Decision Process
    1. For One-Quarter Someone ‘Higher Up’ Makes the Decision. For nearly three-quarters of all respondents, the decision to attend is theirs to make.
    2. Prominent Barriers are Cost, Time and the Destination / City Appeal. 
      1. Cost: The overall cost of attending is rated as the highest barrier at 61% for all respondents, but highest for the younger Gen X and Gen Y generations.
      2. Time: With regard to time, 41% indicated it’s generally difficult to get away, rising to 58% for Gen Y Millennials.
      3. Location: Location is the third barrier for all respondents, but is most important to those who are often on the ‘bubble’ — the Occasionals, Frequents, and Pre Boomers — reporting it is significant in their decision.
    3. Less Than 10% Said ‘Nothing’ Would Convince Them. When everyone but the Always attendees was asked what would help convince them to attend, only 8% said ‘Nothing’ — showing that they can be convinced with the right mix of incentives.
    4. Helping Younger Generations Now is Key. Helping the younger Gen X and Gen Y generations attend now is key to the future. But with barriers of time and money, it’s not enough to invite them to attend. It’s bridging the gap between the desire to attend and the ability to attend.
    5. Many Will Attend, Eventually. The percentages of the Nevers (have never attended) steadily decrease over time.
    6. Nearly Two-Thirds Would Attend More Often. If circumstances allowed, nearly two-thirds or 65% of respondents reported they would attend more often.
    7. When Do They Decide? Eight in Ten Decide 2-6 Months Prior. Overall, 84% decide to attend 2-6 months prior.
    8. Most Will Stay in the Official Room Block, but Gen Y Millennials Show Slippage. Eight in ten prefer to stay in the official hotel(s), but 17% are unlikely to do so. Of the ones going ‘around the block’, two thirds indicate they’ve always stayed elsewhere, while the other one-third report they used to book within the block, but are now staying outside the block.