Associations are in a bind. Last week, I reported on a new survey from content firm Omnipress showing that many organizations are still working through how to host their meetings. Associations have eagerly returned to in-person conferences in the past year because attendees say they want them, and because they’ve traditionally been top revenue drivers. But the pandemic era has also made attendees more skeptical about the value proposition of the in-person meeting. Exhibitors need more persuading to return to the tradeshow floor after a couple of years of spending their marketing dollars elsewhere. And inflation threatens to cut into revenue.
As a result, the survey shows, a lot of associations are now in hybrid mode for meetings for the near future. It’s perhaps not preferable, but it’s realistic. And it reflects the ongoing challenge of the “new normal”—how to have meaningful discussions about how to move forward while being clear-eyed about market realities.