3 Things to Think About When Planning Association Events in 2021

by Colleen Bottorff

First, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work that associations and chambers alike pulled off to host their events in 2020. It was inspiring to see you step up and turn challenges into opportunities. Bravo!

Now, with a new year upon us, let’s set our sights FORWARD.

Events will undoubtedly be tricky to navigate for the foreseeable future. While planners have certainly honed their skill of being ready to pivot on a dime last year (and sponsors and attendees have been just as flexible!) we think there are still some ways that you can be proactive when it comes to creating an events strategy that’ll engage members and generate non-dues revenue:

  1. Get used to including a virtual attendee option

Restrictions may still be in place for the majority of 2021, so even if you are hosting a safely distanced in-person event, you may not be able to have as many attendees join as you normally would. To overcome this, host a hybrid event where attendees can join in person or online.

Not only does this ensure you’ll be able to hit your attendee and revenue goals, but you’ll likely reach even more attendees who wouldn’t have otherwise joined in person, whether there were restrictions in place or not. For that reason alone, this is definitely an event strategy you’ll want to take with you beyond 2021.

As you prepare for upcoming events, be sure your virtual event platform provides the flexibility you need.

  1. Consider what new in-person tools you may need

New health and safety requirements are requiring event planners to adhere to more guidelines, so start thinking now about what you may need to incorporate at in-person events that you hadn’t worried about so much before.

For example, if you typically hand out a printed agenda or other materials, having a conference app for attendees might be a better option moving forward where they can access all event details right on their phone.

Similarly, consider your process for admitting attendees. Anything that requires getting too close or passing items back and forth to each other — i.e. stamping hands or tearing tickets — may not even be allowed. But barcode scanning, on the other hand, can be done quickly and without physical touch.

  1. Monetize event content all year long

Why stop at generating event revenue once it’s over? Take your new online content chops up a notch by hosting all of your event’s recordings for attendees and non-attendees alike to access on-demand. In order to generate extra revenue, you could…

  • Build access into the price of event registration
  • Include access in your higher event registration tiers
  • Charge non-attendees a fee to access content

There are so many possibilities! And it doesn’t stop there — with a true content delivery platform, you can host all kinds of resources, continuing education programs, credentialing, and more.

Planning and executing events has certainly been a challe

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