Two Sides of ROI

A client shared the recent article "15 Predictions About Future Conferences And Shifting Attendance Part 1" with me, and a few of these predictions really stood out from the rest:

2. Conferences That Love Their Model More Than Their Mission Will Suffer. Some conferences and their organizational hosts won’t make it. The difference will be those that cling to their mission versus those that cling to their models. Consider the first automobile and the horse and buggy. The mission was faster and more comfortable transportation. The model was a horse and buggy. Consider the changes in media and publishing. The mission was entertainment, reading, and news. The model always shifts. Conferences organizers need to stay focused on their mission—leading, guiding and helping customers, gathering together to share experiences, connexity and NetWORTHing®, learning together, connecting vendors and customers—and be exceptionally innovative in their models—passive lectures versus peer learning and content versus engagement. Deal-making versus window shopping.

3. The Face To Face Conference Is Here To Stay. Read some blogger posts and comments and you’d think that we should give up on conferences. This is naïve. Sure some attendees will leave. Yet the face to face conference will continue. However, the successful conferences will shift and look different than they have in the past. People will always gather to do more than they could on their own. If the organization’s conference is not meeting the audience’s need, they’ll create their own meetup or participate on the fringes!

4. Conference Content Is Not King! Conference Peer Engagement Is! Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric that content is king! Content, knowledge and information are now commodities. They are really inexpensive and easy to get. Who’s going to pay $1,500-$2,000 to attend a conference (registration, travel, lodging, expenses) for content when it’s everywhere? Conferences have to change their model so that they curate the right content for the right audience at the right time. And that curation must include audience participation, active peer learning and not consumption and passive listening.

Many of our clients are gearing up for their annual fall conference schedule now, and these predictions are echoing the recommendations we provide on a daily basis.  

Meetings, conferences and events are not going anywhere.  There are many studies available that rank face-to-face events as the top marketing tactic to achieve real results.  Even in the recent years of economic downturn, events didn't go away.  Budgets may have been cut, the number of events may have been scaled back, people may have attended less events, but the events did not go away ... unless they no longer supported the mission.

The events that will continue to succeed are the ones that continue to evolve and develop to best meet the needs and wants of their audiences, and provide opportunities for attendees to develop meaningful connections. Many people talk about the ROI on events, and this discussion typically focuses on the ROI of the event host. What many people miss is that attendees of events also have to evaluate their ROI on attending the event.  Whether someone invested time, money, or both to attend, each attendee will evaluate the return on his/her investment.

You may know your ROI on an event. Do you know the ROI of your attendees?