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Be flexible, creative and find new ways to facilitate networking says ABPCO survey

Heather Lishman, ABPCO’s association director.

An overwhelming 93% of respondents miss the networking, social interaction, and meeting people.

A delegate confidence survey conducted by Bramcote International and the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) amongst 350 association conference attendees has highlighted their confidence and attitudes towards attending future events.

Key findings included

  • An overwhelming 93% of respondents miss the networking, social interaction, and meeting people. 
  • 47% of respondents are happy to attend ‘in person’ events, this rises to 75% if the individual is fully vaccinated. 
  • 34% of respondents want to see additional measures in place at their conference.
  • 71% of respondents want flexible cancellation terms for registration fees if unable to attend due to Covid. 
  • 70% of respondents will be attending their next event before March 2022 (note – this is likely to be driven by timing of their specialist conference).
  • 32% of respondents will travel to the next conference by car, 43% by train, 20% by plane.

Heather Lishman, ABPCO’s association director comments: “This survey is, on the whole, great news for our industry, highlighting not just what delegates have missed but what we can do to entice them back to our events.  The results clearly show that conference attendees miss the personal elements of a conference – although they recognise that digital platforms offer highly capable opportunities to share knowledge and learn, it is the human interaction they miss the most – with only 15% saying they do not wish to attend an in-person event for the foreseeable future.  This presents a real opportunity for future events to find creative ways to bring people together to learn and increase interaction.”

“Flexibility was also a key response if we are to successfully bring people back to live events.  The requirements for additional measures to be put in place at events were far overshadowed by a need for more flexible cancellation terms, giving them the confidence to book in the first place.  Unfortunately, despite the largely positive elements of the results, sustainability appears to be taking a back seat as delegates express a greater desire to travel in their own cars, avoiding mass transit options.”

The survey was conducted by Catherine Newhall-Caiger of Bramcote International, who said: “As the events industry, we have always known that networking, social interaction and meeting people is a key driver for attending events. This Survey reinforces this well-versed mantra by clearly showing that face-to-face interactions and social connections with colleagues is top of the agenda for 93% of the Survey respondents. Our role as PCOs, Venues and Suppliers is to create meaningful networking opportunities where people are engaged, and conversations happen that can often lead to new business connections, learning opportunities, collaboration and friendships. The key to our success is understanding and listening to our audiences and using this to create the right event, at the right time for the right audience.”

The 350 delegates surveyed were from a balanced demographic of age, gender, location and sector.