Increasing attendance remains a top priority among meetings professionals, but where the attendance is coming from may change in the coming year, according to a study by Omnipress “2020 State of the Conference Industry Report.”

The study, which consisted of both association and corporate professionals, found stagnation in association membership for the past two years, but respondents said conference attendance and membership grew 32 and 46 percent, respectively—making what gets presented there a critical part of an organization’s strategy.

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What Does Conference Content Look Like?

Content, in its many mediums, is one of the largest components of any conference. After all, learning and education is the reason most people attend. Meetings professionals are increasingly turning to digital formats to deliver the information.

Seventy-four percent of respondents indicated they are using mobile event apps, while 86 percent reported using web-based digital material for their content. According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents saying they use two formats, which includes mobile apps, web-based content, printed materials and flash drives; the online/mobile app combo is the most popular way to provide session materials.

This is the first year since 2016 where there are fewer changes in how content is being distributed, as there has not been an increase in the average number of formats associations are providing at conferences. According to the study, this is due to two reasons: most meeting planners see little to no increase in their budget for content and attendee preferences are less dramatic than in previous years. In fact, 75 percent of respondents reported seeing less demand for printed materials.

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What Content Challenges Do Planners Face?

Handling last-minute content remains the most common challenge for meeting professionals as the task of keeping all those pages up-to-date has proved time-consuming. While this problem has been an ongoing one, a new problem facing planners is using content to maintain visibility and enhance further learning.

As millennials and Generation Z enter the workforce and baby boomers make their way out, another hurdle is recruiting younger members. A majority (53 percent) reported that their organizations are currently strategizing how to address the needs of the millennials, while 39 percent of those planners say are currently addressing the needs of Generation Z.