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November 2, 2017

The Experience Institute, Associations Team on Events Industry Research

Photo by Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images

The Experience Institute (TEI) alongside meetings and conventions associations, PCMA, IAEE, MPI, ASAE, and Destinations International, have aligned to announce Maximizing Attendance, new industry-wide initiative. This collaboration includes in-depth research that studies attendee behavior and the influencing factors when choosing the exhibitions, meetings, and events in which they will attend. The most recent findings continue to support the following as the top three drivers of the decision to attend : 92 percent Education; 78 percent Destination; and 76 percent Networking. The second Decision to Attend Study – DTA2 is now available for download free of charge or within the complete toolkit.

The report includes insight on generational differences, attendance frequency, barriers to attend, return intentions, and more. Building upon the first survey in 2014, the newest findings within the Decision to Attend Study translate into an extensive report that presents information collected online, resulting in a combined 8,992 responses from current and potential attendees. The survey examined the reasons individuals chose to attend or not attend conventions and exhibitions, held by 12 different organizations representing a wide variety of professions and industries.

"This study continues to prove that today's attendees are seasoned, discerning consumers," said Mickey Schaefer, FASAE, CAE, CTA, Founder & CEO of The EXPERIENCE Institute, in a written release. "Yet, the true group profile of what attendees do 'outside the walls' of the event remains elusive. The vision is to maximize attendance by identifying the nuances of each group in order to match attendees to their preferred environment – an environment where they will thrive, talk about it, and decide to return." 

The study reaffirmed that the experience attendees have at the event and throughout the destination matters now more than ever before. The future of Face-to-Face (F2F) meetings will benefit from a solid pipeline of future attendees, with nine out of 10 of all respondents indicating a strong propensity to continue their personal or professional education, Millennials being the highest. CVBs are also deeply involved, as maximizing attendance in today’s environment of savvy, discerning attendees requires collaboration from all sides of the industry. Throughout Phase One (2014-2016) of the study, meetings and exhibition professionals worked with CVBs to generate tools and ideas for future development. 

In addition to the study’s Behavioral Profile Template and the Best Practices Checklist, Destinations International is launching an Attendance Promotion Handbook to help CVB’s provide services and to craft targeted messaging to prospective attendees that strengthens the perception of the destination experience. The study also revealed that one-half of visitors are likely to bring others or extend their stay, adding to the bottom-line ROI of the event through more room nights and multiplying overall spend. Return intentions are high if the convention and destination experience are positive.

Destinations of all sizes are on board, with strong Premium Level sponsorship from Des Moines and Synchronicities (San Antonio, Anaheim, Baltimore) and Gold Level sponsorship from Denver, Raleigh, San Jose, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Phoenix, and San Francisco.

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