Recently, Omnipress released a Conference Industry report. We learned that 60% of the survey respondents selected knowledge and education as the single greatest value their annual conference provides to their members. Networking with fellow attendees won 35% of the vote. Neither of these statistics surprised us and, despite being in the business of online events and online learning, we do understand the value place-based events bring to members of an association. Senior Business Development Manager, Jodi Ray, recently attended the AMC Institute Annual Meeting and told us about her top three takeaways from the event.
There is nothing like a handshake, a hug, eye connection, or a smile that connects people. Attendees will come to a place-based event more often when they feel included, and not as an outsider. Inviting new attendees to dinners, discussing common challenges in the industry over drinks, and sharing personal stories and photos among new friends are just a few ways that place-based events can provide valuable networking.
While many conference sessions are set up with one presenter lecturing to a room full of attendees, more and more we are seeing sessions asking for attendee participation and small group breakouts in order to brainstorm and collaborate. Being in a group of people you don’t normally work with allows for fresh ideas and solutions to be discussed and then taken home with you after the event.
Being at a place-based event makes it easier to weave themes into sessions and events. AMC Institute’s 2019 meeting took place in Austin, so as you can expect, bar-b-que was on the menu during some meals and they even served local vodkas, bourbons, and sparkling waters. Being an Austin also allowed for people to dress the theme – wearing cowboy boots or hats.
Of course, we all understand that not everyone can make it to every place-based event all the time — but that doesn’t mean the education or networking isn’t important! Recording sessions at your annual meeting is just one easy way to expand your reach and extend the life of the valuable content being presented. You can even go a step further and add discussion forums to presentations so that those watching on-demand can make comments and interact with one another even if they weren’t able to attend the event!