After almost two years of being in lockdown traveling through the peaks and valleys of the pandemic, people are predictably more than ready to venture out into public and get back to some sense of normalcy.
Associations are no different. Organizations are anxious to get back to in-person events doing what associations do best – connecting people. The looming question is how ready are members/attendees to get back to being in conference rooms with other people?
We have heard from several groups that are looking at hosting hybrid events that member excitement to return to in-person events is not as high as they had hoped. There are likely a couple of reasons driving this hesitation. First, COVID is still front and center on everyone’s mind as we work through the mechanisms of getting people vaccinated and educating people still not convinced a vaccine is right for them. These challenges are not going to be resolved overnight, and we will most likely be dealing with them well into 2022.
Another driver is simply human behavior/adaptability. As Dean West, FASAE, President of Association Laboratory put it, “When we studied the implications of Covid-19 for our Looking Forward 2021 environmental scan, we found that upon widespread distribution of vaccines there isn’t going to be a return to what we were used to in early 2020. We will never go back to that time. Industries and professions have undergone dramatic change, and that change is going to go on for some time. So, I call that the Covid hangover and we’re going to be adapting to that for a long time.”
“People have learned through the events they have participated in the past two years that virtual events are an acceptable way to meet, connect and learn. They have essentially been trained to meet this way,” he added. Many have found it to be preferential. The innovations that COVID-19 has driven within the association sector are not going away and that represents tremendous opportunity for associations to engage their members like never before.”
It will continue to be important for associations to canvas members to better understand their meeting preferences as we move into the post vaccination era. More than likely we will see people wanting a blended strategy with options to meet changing needs. We are hearing from our customers that hybrid events are becoming the “next normal”. If you are unsure if a hybrid event is right for your organization, or would just like to chat with someone to learn more about how hybrid events work, let us know and we’ll be happy to set up a time to meet with you.