Putting on an event is one thing, getting people to attend is another.

The IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events) published its Decision to Attend Study – Phase 2 this past month. In it are the findings from 8992 participants from 12 different organizations, representing a broad range of industry and professions, and whether they choose to attend conferences or exhibitions, or not.

Not surprisingly the top three drivers were education at a whopping 92%, destination at 78%, and networking at 76%. We are seeing an increasing trend in professional and personal development, and according to the study, 91% of all generations want to continue learning… millennials even higher!

Half of attendees would extend their stay, or bring others, combining attendance with a vacation if the destination is desirable, which multiplies the overall spend. Eight in ten will repeat attendance or return for leisure if the destination experience was positive.

The main barriers to attendance include cost, time, destination, and approval from a manager. Most of those polled register 2 to 6 months in advance, and only 10% register less than a month prior.

Some tips for planners to increase attendance are:
• Invite early – possibly with a save-the-date invitation, then follow up, send reminders and confirmations, and always save a handful of spots for people you want there, but couldn’t register.
• Pricing and registration – Don’t overcharge, have early-bird pricing, and make it easy to buy tickets or register.
• Social media promotion – no longer a choice, this is a must-have, but encourage speakers to promote the event too! They usually have a strong following, and their own social media channels. Because they are speaking, their followers are likely your target audience.
• Location, location, location – choose a venue or destination that guests find unique and easy to get to. If the conference is being attended by guests that do not live in the host city, provide appealing tourist information for activities, restaurants, sight-seeing, museums, nightlife, and shopping.
• Create an enjoyable agenda – your program should be focused on a single theme, but have enough variety to hold interest, provide high energy, and encourage engagement.

For the full study visit http://www.iaee.com/results/decision-to-attend-study

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