If you are not leveraging these three top drivers in your convention and exhibition promotion and communication, you are likely missing out on would-be attendees: education, destination, and networking. According to the Decision to Attend study, although the percentages changed from 2014, the top three remain the same.

Education 92%   |   Destination 78%   |   Networking 76%

As reported by the study’s Executive Summary: “This second survey within the Decision to Attend study reaffirms that prospective attendees have a high level of travel expertise, a high propensity to want to continue their education, a need to network with Others Like Me, and a desire to explore local destination experiences.”  

Here are 7 best practices the study offers for leveraging these drivers and the key stats that support them:
  1. Education should always be a strong component of the promotional message, regardless of generation or attendance frequency. 92% of all generations indicate that education is important, whether the education is gleaned from the formal program or the exhibit floor.
  2. Promoting new things to see and do in the city/ destination may tip the scale to YES. Remember, most are discerning. You need to entice them. 78% of all generations report the destination factors into their decision, with 20-30% saying it’s the deciding factor ─ that it determines it.
  3. Use social media in creative ways. Fuel impromptu meetups on topics or special interests. Mine the thread for intel that may tell you more about the changing profile of your attendees. 42% of all respondents want to socialize via social media when attending, versus 74% who want to connect face-to-face.
  4. Use a Justification Toolkit to help them get approval, including a sample letter to their supervisor and list of benefits to their organization. 67% of all generations say it’s their decision. By generation, not surprisingly, 50% of Gen Y Millennials and 40% of Gen Xers need approval.
  5. Offer ways to defray or delay costs, e.g. coupons, discount offers for food and transportation, and installment payments for registration. 89% would attend more, if farriers were removed.
  6. Trend your registration Half-Life; the half-way point from when promotion starts. Look at it by generation and attendance frequency, as well, to know when to make adjustments for current and future years. 56% of all respondents report they normally register 3-6 months prior, with an additional 26% 2 months prior, trending with 2014.
  7. Consider tying registration to housing, e.g. they can’t register unless they stay in the official block. Of the 18% staying outside the block, cost is the main factor, with many responding, “Can Get a Better Rate on My Own.”

This examination of behavior tied to the decision to attend will help meeting organizers effectively promote conventions and exhibitions and maximize attendance.

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