Questions we didn’t get time to address during Arinex’ COVID-19 uncovered webinar have been answered by our team of panelists.

Question: How can we forecast participation in an online conference based on membership numbers or physical conference delegate numbers? The level of engagement may shape our virtual offering and registration costs?

It is always hard to forecast attendee numbers for an ‘inaugural’ event. Having a membership database is a great start. You can assess their demographics to see if they fit a group who would be open to this transition, or if you have a group of members who are more resistant to change. With an engaged membership then you can survey them to gain their support of a virtual event and ensure that you are providing them with enough ‘value’ for their registration. They will question the cost versus value just like sponsors and exhibitors.

Question: Do you envisage conference size and numbers reducing dramatically with many companies reducing/laying off staff, as well as the uncertainty of when and how the aviation industry will rebound for people to travel and attend – both domestically and internationally?

This is very hard for anyone to accurately forecast, however, there are a few factors that need to be considered. For Associations and Colleges that have an element of Continual Professional Development, then the likelihood of a significant decrease in attendance is low. Due to the postponement of many events, the event market for the next 12-18 months will be saturated, and delegates, sponsors and exhibitors will all have more choice. Your event will really need to stand out in order to capture their interest and participation.

Just as we saw a transition to online webinars when COVID-19 surfaced, there is likely to be a longer transition period back to in-person events, as airlines restart routes, and countries start reopening their borders. As the world progresses, we will need to provide opportunities for different countries to attend, so the option of hybrid events is likely to become standard.

Question: How does one work through time zones when scheduling presentations?

When dealing with multiple time zones there is never a perfect solution. What you need to do is first review your geographic spread of attendees and which regions have the highest attendee rates. You then ascertain which sessions you would live stream and which you would pre-record. Based on this schedule, your live streaming sessions would happen at a time when the majority of your international delegates would be able to join. You should also ensure that any live streamed sessions are available as quickly as possible for on demand viewing for those that could not quite commit to the 5 a.m. wake up time!

Question: If an event has moved online would a delegate still like to experience and view destination content of where the meeting was meant to be held?

One of the key elements an online event cannot provide is the destination experience and the environment and ambiance of attending an event in a different region or country. I have no doubt that although delegates won’t be able to attend, they would still appreciate being exposed to what that location has to offer and the ‘live like a local’ experience will still have value, even if communicated online through cultural exchanges and via the immersion with local people.